Don’t be a grinch or shoot your eye out about this glimpse of cinematic Christmas cheer

As Thanksgiving nears, my husband begins to cringe. As Thanksgiving yields the way for the holiday season, he is exasperated. And then, when December 1 rolls around, he’s downright frustrated.

No, my husband isn’t a Scrooge. In fact, he’s probably the kindest and most open-hearted person I know.

His problem is, he knows that December 1 launches the “25 Days of Christmas” and the guarantee that a Christmas special will be on at least one of three channels – ABC Family, Hallmark or Lifetime Movie Network – at all times for at least the next 25 days.

Now, for normal people, this might be a problem easily overcome. But for me, a self-acknowledging addict of Christmas specials, this is a problem of Everest proportion.

I LOVE Christmas specials. I love the change of heart that takes place in every single one. It shows that a little bit of Christmas spirit can soften even the hardest of hearts. And then, there’s the magic of Christmas and the unexplained fulfillment of the deepest of wishes, often those wishes that aren’t material, but rather those that involve relationships and love and believing. Many times, the main theme is finally seeing all of one’s blessings.

I’ve seen Ebenezer Scrooge played by so many different people – male and female – in many different settings, but I think my favorites are Alastair Sim in 1951, Kelsey Grammer in 2004, Patrick Stewart in 1999, and – my favorite funny rendition – Bill Murray in the 1988 Scrooged.

Several women have taken on the role as the miserly, miserable, Ms. Scrooge, like Vanessa Williams, Cicely Tyson, Susan Lucci, Catherine Tate, Tori Spelling and Christina Milian. I believe the best, and my favorite, would have to be Cicely Tyson’s portrayal of Ebenita Scrooge in 1997, however, the adaptations with female Scrooges are some of my least favorite Christmas shows. Absent of Bill Murray’s role, I prefer the traditional versions of The Christmas Carol.

My all-time favorite classic movie is undoubtedly It’s a Wonderful Life – the black-and-white version, not the colorized one. Whose heart isn’t bursting when George Bailey runs through the streets of Bedford Falls and yells, “Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan”? I love that part.

It’s a Wonderful Life was adapted with a female version of George Bailey in 1977 – It Happened One Christmas – and starred Marlo Thomas and Wayne Rogers. Unlike my aversion to female Scrooges, I really like this adaptation.

As for modern movies that touch the heart, my favorite is The Family Man with Nicolas Cage and Tea Leoni. I could watch it over and over (and often do). In fact, I now own that one.

The theme of The Family Man is one that is repeated over and over in Christmas movies. It’s similar to George Bailey’s journey, but instead of being shown what the world would be like without him in it, this theme takes someone who is miserable and empty, but with financial success, and gives them a look at the life they could have… “a glimpse,” as the angel, Don Cheadle, says in The Family Man. A female version of this is Comfort and Joy, with former teen star Nancy McKeon, a decent rendition.

Now for the funny, silly and downright make-you-laugh-until-you’re-rolling-on-the-floor: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Elf. I love these shows and will watch them at any and every opportunity… and have, since Elf – “Santa’s coming? I know him!”has been on a lot already this season. I love The Santa Clause series, with Tim Allen, of which there are three, and believe I may be the only person that likes the last two. These shows just make me feel good. They make me smile and laugh.

I like the Santa Baby movies, of which there are two, with Jenny McCarthy and George Wendt (Wendt was only in the first one) and I like the Snow series with Tom Cavanaugh and Ashley Williams.

Of course, there are the old classic animations: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Year Without a Santa Claus and Santa Claus is Coming to Town, etc. If Rankin/Bass put it together, I probably LOVE it. I love the old animation and am very, very disappointed in the computer animations of today.

A combo of classic and not classic… The Grinch Who Stole Christmas… I love both the cartoon and the movie with Jim Carrey. How can you not fall in love with the Grinch, “whose heart grew three sizes that day”? And who doesn’t think of Ralphie every time someone mentions a BB gun? I love, love, love A Christmas Story!

Other shows I like: A Christmas Story; Christmas with the Kranks; Deck the Halls; The Family Stone; Holiday Inn; The Holiday; I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus; Jingle All the Way; Love Actually; Miracle on 34th Street; The Nativity Story; The Nightmare Before Christmas; Prancer; The Polar Express; Surviving Christmas; Trapped in Paradise; While You Were Sleeping; White Christmas; A Charlie Brown Christmas; Frosty the Snowman; Twas the Night Before Christmas; Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus; Borrowed Hearts; Chasing Christmas; The Christmas Card; Christmas Do-Over; Christmas Every Day; The Christmas List; Holiday in Handcuffs; The Homecoming: A Christmas Story (about the Waltons); Moonlight and Mistletoe; Santa Jr.; Snowglobe; Sons of Mistletoe; Special Delivery; Stealing Christmas; and Three Days.

Now, for shows that I really don’t care for:

  • Any and all of the Rudolph sequels – Rudolph’s Shiny New Year, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys.
  • Jack Frost, with Michael Keaton… although I love the actor, the movie is just too sad and doesn’t have a happy ending.
  • Ernest Saves Christmas… do I really have to say anything else? And, I’m not a fan, at all, of Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol and Call Me Claus, with Whoopi Goldberg.
  • And all those that ABC Family wants to pass off as Christmas movies that really aren’t, such as any and all Harry Potter movies, Dr. Seuss shows that aren’t the Grinch, and Pixar movies that have no Christmas theme whatsoever. That’s really a cop-out, ABC Family. There are plenty of Christmas shows to fill all 25 of your days.

Yes, yes, I know it’s an illness, and as soon as someone creates a 12-step program, I’ll… well… look for an excuse not to go… because… I LOVE them… but I can get help anytime I want. I just have to put it on my list to Santa…

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