The holidays are my favorite time of year, and to me, it’s not officially Christmas until I’ve screened my favorite holiday movies. I love the little lessons hidden in all of them. Not only do they put me in the spirit of the season, they also offer gentle reminders I can take with me throughout the new year, from remembering to call my family, to spreading kindness, and everything in between. Enjoy these seasonal classics perfect for watching with a steaming cup of hot chocolate.
“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”
This iconic movie starring Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold is the story of one man’s pursuit of the perfect family Christmas. In the quest to reach the pinnacle of Christmas decoration glory, hilarity ensues. I identify with Clark and his never-ending passion for the holiday season. I’ve hosted an annual Christmas party ever since I graduated from college, and I learned from the best—my parents. Their holiday parties were epic growing up. With five children, they got us all involved, whether it was playing festive tunes on the piano, passing out appetizers, or collecting coats. “Christmas Vacation” always reminds me of the importance of family traditions and being together for the holidays.
We all remember the line affectionately: “When I grow up and get married, I’m living alone!” Now that we are all grown up, we realize that sometimes living alone isn’t all fun and games. The theme of “Home Alone” is to remember the importance of family, no matter how much they may get on your nerves from time to time. When your siblings bug you while you’re home for your holiday break, think about how it’s harder to see each other as often as you’d like, now that you’re older. I always look past the present squabbles I have with my family and recall our loving past and remember how little I get to see of them during the upcoming year.
“The Santa Clause”
This classic 90s holiday movie tells the tale of Scott (Tim Allen), a divorced dad who, after accidentally killing Santa, learns he needs to take his place before the following Christmas. This one is all about believing in the magic and wonder of Christmas. As someone who believed in Santa until she was almost 11 years old, I’ve always had an abundance of holiday spirit. It’s important to keep that childlike awe and not become too cynical as we age. If a fresh snowfall has your friend begging you to go out and build a snowman, don’t shoo them away—get in touch with your inner child. Chances are, it will make you feel happier during the often dark and cold winter months.
Woven throughout the often comedic, sometimes melancholy storylines of this film is the central subject matter: Love. Hugh Grant as England’s prime minister opens the movie with a monologue about how even in dark moments, he can still find evidence of love everywhere. I try to take this message with me throughout the year with random acts of kindness and reminding people I know how much I appreciate them, so they, too, can see “love actually is all around.” Those acts include simple gestures like sending Valentine’s Day cards to family and friends and giving my neighbors Halloween candy. In honor of World Kindness Day last year, I surprised friends from church and home with $5 Dunkin Donuts gift cards. I try to make the little things count to remind people they are loved.
Buddy the Elf is a full-grown man who was raised as one of Santa’s elves. After realizing that he doesn’t quite fit in, he travels to New York City to find his real father. Sure, Buddy has lots of Christmas spirit, but he also has a tremendous enthusiasm for life in general. I love getting excited at the littlest things, whether it’s finding my favorite flavor of ice cream in the grocery store or getting an unexpected package in the mail. Most importantly, like Buddy, I try to find the positive in any situation. I think that “Elf’s” lesson is to learn how to find your inner spirit and staying positive when life throws some crazy curve balls your way.
Originally published on December 14, 2018