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We thought we would change up Favorites for the Christmas season. This time of year we all have favorites—favorite movies, favorite recipes, favorite gifts, favorite memories, favorite songs, and more.
Today, the Facts & Trends staff discusses their favorite Christmas movies. But we also want to hear from you. What’s your favorite holiday movie or TV special? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @FactsAndTrends.
Aaron Earls (@WardrobeDoor), online editor: While I’m not quite sure it’s technically a “Christmas movie,” my favorite does feature Santa Claus and snow and always shows up on television this time of the year. Being the C.S. Lewis fan that I am, Christmas always brings to mind “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.”
I remember the excitement I felt finally seeing Lewis’ classic story brought to life on the screen. There is so much wonder and genuine awe in the scene where little Lucy Pevensie stumbles through the wardrobe into the magical, wintry world of Narnia and sees the iconic lamp post.
Later, she discovers from Mr. Tumnus the faun, that in their world it’s “always winter and never Christmas.” Narnia is waiting for the return of their rightful king, Aslan the lion. Of course, we know how Aslan sets things right through his own sacrificial death.
Reading “The Chronicles of Narnia” as a child, reading them to my children and seeing the movies with them, makes me associate those books, particularly “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” with the innocence and joy of Christmas and childhood. I may just go home and watch it with them again tonight.
Carol Pipes (@CarolPipes), editor: “Get the biggest aluminum tree you can find, Charlie Brown, maybe painted pink.” With those famous words from Lucy Van Pelt still ringing in his ears, Charlie Brown sets out to buy a tree for the Peanuts gang’s Christmas play.
This year marks the 50th year “A Charlie Brown Christmas” has aired on network television. Created by Charles M. Schultz, the 1965 holiday classic has been a favorite for generations. It’s one I look forward to every year.
The show points to our greed and commercialism. You can hear the frustration in Charlie Brown’s voice when he moans, “My own dog, gone commercial. I can’t stand it.” And later when the rehearsal for the Christmas play falls apart, Charlie Brown cries out “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”
In steps Linus who recites Luke 2:8-14. It’s simple, yet profound. In that moment, Linus points the Peanuts gang and millions of viewers to the real reason we celebrate December 25—Jesus Christ has come to dwell among us. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
Apparently, Charles Shultz had to fight with CBS executives to keep that part in. The higher-ups didn’t think viewers would appreciate an overtly religious message. They were wrong.
If you missed the show last week, ABC is airing it again at 8 p.m. ET on Dec. 16.
Matt Erickson (@_Matt_Erickson), managing editor: My favorite Christmas movie is probably “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” but since that’s already been mentioned (as has “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”—a clever choice), I’m going with “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
In one of his sermons, John Piper once said the following about books and reading:
“What I have learned from about 20 years of serious reading is this. It is sentences that change my life, not books. What changes my life is some new glimpse of truth, some powerful challenge, some resolution to a long-standing dilemma, and these usually come concentrated in a sentence or two. I do not remember 99 percent of what I read, but if the 1 percent of each book or article I do remember is a life-changing insight, then I don’t begrudge the 99 percent. And that life-changing insight usually comes in a moment, a moment whose value is all out of proportion to its little size.”
It’s for that reason that I like “It’s a Wonderful Life” so much. Sure, Jimmy Stewart was great in it, and there are plenty of things to like about the film, but there are a few memorable lines that put it over the top for me. In fact, they’re the first thing I think of when I think of the film.
These lines (and one in particular) made me reflect on what’s most important in life—as I know they have done for countless other people. Anyway, here they are in order of importance to me:
- Clarence: [In book inscription] Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends. [Priorities]
- Clarence: Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he? [Connectedness/influence/legacy]
- George Bailey: Dear Father in heaven, I’m not a praying man, but if you’re up there and you can hear me [begins crying] show me the way… show me the way. [Desperation and the need for God’s guidance and help]
Bob Smietana (@BobSmietana), senior writer: As a young kid I remember being terrified the first time the Abominable Snowman appeared on screen in “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Even though he was just a Claymation creation, his teeth and roar sent chills up my spine. There was a sense of relief when Hermey—the elf turned would-be dentist—pulled the monster’s teeth, turning him into a harmless “Bumble.” That relief was short lived, when the Bumble and the brave Yukon Cornelius fall off the ice-cliff.
That scene remains a favorite from “Rudolph,” which first aired in 1964 and has been thrilling kids and adults every Christmas since. For a story based on a novelty song, the special has a surprisingly engaging story.
There’s something for everyone:
- Rudolph, the good-hearted reindeer who just wants to fit in
- His sweetheart Clarice, who sees beyond the shiny nose
- Rudolph’s parents, who aren’t sure how to cope with their son’s luminescent nose
- Hermey, the elf who dreams of dentistry
- The Island of Misfit toys, who dream of one day being loved
- The always engaging Burle Ives, who plays a snowman narrator – and ends the movie with the holiday favorite, “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas.”
- And last but not least, the irrepressible Yukon Cornelius and his sage advice like, “Douse your nose and run like crazy.”
The show packs in laughs, adventure, a few tears and a joyous ending when the outcasts save Christmas. What could be better that that?
Katie Shull (@KShull), graphic designer: My most recent favorite Christmas movie is “Elf” because it is just hilarious. It’s the story of Buddy the Elf, “a human raised by elves,” who has a childlike enthusiasm and joy for all things Christmas.
Buddy fights off all New York’s cynicism in attempts to reunite with his biological father. He spreads joy and love to everyone he meets. It’s just a cute and light-hearted reminder to keep a positive attitude and never give up.
What is your favorite Christmas movie? Which one do you watch every year?