The movies of Christmas have a certain magic about them. They are light and romantic, full of happy, loving people, Christmas trees and decorations, cozy cafés brimming with hot cocoa and cookies, and they always come wrapped up with a bright, happy ending, usually complemented by a snowfall. No matter how drab a house or town looks at other times, the Christmas season cheers it up and gives it a festive, sparkling spirit.
Ask anyone and they usually have a list of favorites. The popular ones include It’s a Wonderful Life, featuring a home town and neighbors everyone knows and loves. The scene in which Donna Reed and Jimmy Stewart share a phone is one of the truly great romantic scenes of all time. Then there is Miracle on 34th Street with Maureen O’Hara and John Payne. Who doesn’t love looking at the Thanksgiving Parade and the retail landmark, Macy’s, as you take a trip back in time to the 1940s. A Christmas Story features Darren McGavin in one of his funniest roles and I think everyone can relate to Ralphie and his younger brother, Randy. A lesser-known movie but one of my favorites is Christmas in Connecticut in which Barbara Stanwyck plays a food writer who doesn’t know her way around a kitchen or a stove. The charming home in Connecticut, where most of the film takes place, is comfy and cozy and the other actors, such as Sydney Greenstreet and Dennis Morgan, give wonderful performances. If you buy the DVD of Christmas in Connecticut, there is a short film included with it: Star in the Night, a heartwarming depiction of the Nativity story, set in more modern times.
I have my own list of dozens of films that I like for different reasons. The Christmas Card is a family-oriented treat that involves a lonely soldier receiving a card from a young woman. As fate would have it, he finds himself in her home town and accidentally meets her. It’s an old-fashioned romance with solid family values. Fallen Angel stars Gary Sinise, who journeys back to his hometown in Maine after his father’s death and reconnects with someone he knew as a child. And then there is Finding John Christmas about a hero fireman who disappeared 25 years ago and returns to his hometown in a heartwarming tale about love, family, and forgiveness.
There is something so cheerful about homes decorated with cozy, charming Christmas decorations and most holiday movies don’t disappoint in this area. The porches are strewn with snowmen and toy soldiers standing guard; the living rooms are home to starry Christmas trees with mantles holding nutcrackers and angels. The kitchens feature cookie sheets with gingerbread men, scrumptious cupcakes with elaborate icing, and pancakes and hot cocoa for a Christmas morning breakfast.
Christmas movies give us a chance to lose ourselves in holiday happiness no matter what is going on in our lives. They take us away for a short time from worries and daily stressors and transport us to a place where romance blossoms despite the ever-present problem that every good movie plot has to have. And age doesn’t matter. Everyone loves them because they make us smile; we look forward to them because they let us enter into a Christmas fantasy with a happy ending.
Christmas movies offer something for everyone’s tastes. Peter Falk and Katey Sagal, as two bickering angels, bring together two families in When Angels Came to Town; a young widow resists starting a new romance until she lets her heart lead the way in The Christmas Ornament; a savvy lady, who knows her stock market, fights to save the Christmas ornament company she works for in All She Wants for Christmas; and a workaholic executive discovers how much she loves Christmas and all its traditions in Let It Snow.
There is nothing better to while away time on a cold, snowy day than to watch a Christmas movie and be transported to a magical place. Wrap yourself in a gingham throw, heat a cup of tea or cocoa, and be prepared to relax and enter into the enchanting world of Christmas movies. And, while you’re at it, make a list of your own favorites!