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It’s the Most Wonderful (Movie) Time of the Year


 Thanksgiving is Over. Fire Up Those Christmas Flicks! 

By Jason Jones 

Messenger Reporter 

EAST TEXAS – A major dilemma is finally about to be resolved, yet again, at my house. Thanksgiving is now in the rearview mirror, and the fact that I had to loosen another notch on my belt due to turkey and dressing overload means it is officially Christmas movie season. 

For many years my wife and my kids were at odds with me because they wanted to start watching holiday-themed movies prior to Thanksgiving. I stood firm on this one. Not because I didn’t like any of the movies in our collection, but because I didn’t like many movies outside of our collection. Let’s be honest, if one wishes to watch a different Christmas movie every night until Christmas they could probably start somewhere around the end of August. Thanks to the many streaming services (who shall remain unnamed) as well as several cable networks (who shall also remain unnamed) there is a wealth of new – or new-ish – Christmas movies available on demand. But seriously, how many times do we need to see a recently divorced/widowed/rejected man or woman return to their hometown, bump into their old flame, solve a major crisis and live happily ever after… just in time for Christmas? And it snows on queue??? I think once is enough. So we stick to the classics along with a few favorites we add in for laughs. 

I wasn’t always this way. There was a time when I couldn’t start them early enough. Eventually I realized that my collection was limited to the point where I was having to watch the same movies four or five times before Christmas so that I could have a little holiday atmosphere in my house. Starting after Thanksgiving helps tremendously. 

Our favorites are pretty much a who’s who among the holiday standard fare. “Christmas Vacation” almost always kicks off the season for us. Cousin Eddie really brings out that festive cheer at our house. “A Christmas Story” is a massive favorite for our family as well. I own a miniature version of the leg lamp. None of us can help but say “Frajeelay” whenever we see the word “Fragile” stamped anywhere. I’ve also been known to include words like “Hostickle fifa!” and “Natafinga!” when in the midst of a profanity-laced tirade. But we used the DVD sparingly every year because we knew that TNT would be running it back-to-back-to-back for 24 hours starting Christmas Eve. I don’t even use regular TV at my house anymore, but we became so accustomed to having the marathon playing every year that I reserve that time to either stream it nonstop or keep hitting the play button on the DVD in order to recreate it. Except without commercials. Everything’s better without commercials. 

Another personal favorite is “Scrooge” or “A Christmas Carol.” The debate will rage forever about which version is best. For me it’s the 1984 version featuring George C. Scott, and second place isn’t even close. But second and third and fourth place all get attention once the season hits. The animated version voiced by Jim Carrey isn’t bad, neither is the version featuring Patrick Stewart. His may actually be the meanest version of them all. The 1970 version is the first I remember seeing as a kid. Albert Finney was great, but it’s a musical, so the constant distraction of everyone breaking into song dampens my enthusiasm after a short while. 

Bill Murray’s “Scrooged” can help bring the enthusiasm back, though. 

The list goes on. Some classics like “It’s A Wonderful Life” and several of the old animated features, such as “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “Rudolph” dot the play list. Newer classics are in there as well. We enjoy “The Polar Express” and “Elf” and at least two of the three “Santa Clause” movies with Tim Allen, who also stars in “Christmas with the Kranks.” We even indulge in a little “Bad Santa” and “Fred Claus” now and again just for a little variety. Billy Bob Thornton and Paul Giamatti are polar opposite versions of Santa in these movies, but equally entertaining. 

We also love the Grinch, but only the original cartoon and Jim Carrey’s version. That new one serves no purpose. It’s like trying to replace a good pizza with a tortilla and some ketchup.  

That was gross. 

And no Christmas season is complete without “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” When I was a kid I would come running at full speed when it came on TV. Today I do the same thing when somebody starts the DVD. It can get messy if I’m carrying food or drink. 

If you enjoy those holiday specials that pop up every year, the ones with marginally famous actresses and actors from the 90s who find their Christmas miracle, save the town and win back their high school sweetheart, don’t think I’m judging you. Please indulge away. But there is something about the classics, or the newer movies that adhere to the classic themes, that create the atmosphere I like to enjoy this time of year. It’s just me. I want to feel like I’m eight again. 

Merry Christmas and happy movie watching. Grab a snack and a drink, put on something loose and stretchy, and DO NOT shoot your eye out. 

Jason Jones may be reached via email at jjones@messenger-news.com 

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