What Christmas movie list would be complete without National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation? It fills a niche that I don’t think any other Christmas movie fills. At least none that I can really think of. It’s completely about Christmas, humorous, and not the treacly sweet stuff that surrounds many Christmas movies. It also is one of the rare sequels to a movie that I think many people enjoy more than the original.
Rent the movie is obviously a film version of the Tony award winning Broadway musical. I adored the stage production, so was of course was excited about the movie especially since it starred most of the original Broadway cast. Again Rent is not strictly a Christmas movie, but it covers a year in the life the characters beginning on Christmas Eve and ending the following Christmas Eve. Though most of it is really set between Christmas Eve and New Year’s. There are also a lot of songs that reference Christmas with one the characters dressed in a Santa dress. So of course Rent reminds me of Christmas. The stage show is better, but I still adore the music in this show no matter what form it’s in so the movie makes this list.
It was surprisingly hard to find clips from the movie on YouTube. Everything I was finding was the stage production. So here’s a link to the movie trailer.
What list would be complete without the Muppets? What else can I say about this movie. It’s a Muppet version of the class Christmas Carol tale and it’s delightful.
Speaking of cheesy made for TV movies, I have one for you…A Mom for Christmas. From 1990, A Mom for Christmas is essentially a Mannequin rip-off starring Olivia Newton-John. A young girl wishes that a mannequin she sees in the department store could be her mom. Thanks to a Christmas miracle (and her department store fairy godmother of course) her dream comes true. Of course they have to find a way to keep her. It’s television movie cheesiness at its best.
A lot of people will admit that they think of Gremlins as a Christmas movie because it takes place at Christmas. I am one of them. I will also admit that I haven’t seen this movie since I was a kid. I loved it then and of course thought Gizmo was super cute and wanted one for my very own never mind the whole nasty Gremlin issue. On one of the podcasts I listen to one of the people was discussing how he had seen it recently and that it hadn’t held up over time, so I’m not sure if I would still like it as much today. I’m almost not willing to watch it again just in case. Also going for this movie in regards to Christmas is that it contains the worst Christmas story ever. Don’t remember what I’m talking about? Let Phoebe Cates tell you.
I spent my undergraduate years at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. There is a Moravian settlement not far from the campus and 48 years ago a Moravian student suggested that the university hold a traditional Moravian love feast near Christmas. The tradition has continued since that time, and was one of the things I loved attending every year during my time on campus. It’s a lovely way to be brought into the Christmas spirit especially during the stressful time of finals.
There are many things I love about the love feast. There is a lot of chorale singing of Christmas hymns. Each person in attendance is also given a yeast bun, a cup of Moravian coffee, and a bees wax candle to use during the feast. The buns are super tasty and watching Wait Chapel slowly transform from complete darkness into a room lit by thousands of candles is a wondrous sight. I always made sure to sit in the balcony because it gave the best view of the candles being lit as people passed their flames on to the person sitting next to them.
I obviously couldn’t attend the love feast in person this year, but thanks to the wonders of technology in our modern age I was able to watch it on YouTube. Sadly no one popped out of the screen and gave me a bun and some coffee to enjoy while I watched. I am sure the only people who would actually care to sit down and watch the hour and half service are fellow Wake alums, so I’m embedding another video Wake posted that is a slideshow of pictures from the love feast with excerpts of audio from the service that is only a few minutes long if you care to get a sense of what it’s all about.
And just in case there is anyone out there who wants to watch the whole thing.
And to keep rounding out my childhood favorites, today’s entry in my 25 Days of Christmas favorite movies countdown we have Mickey’s Christmas Carol. This was the first version of the A Christmas Carol that I was ever familiar with. There’s nothing super special about it. It’s just a great little Disney version of the tale.
More importantly our copy of Mickey’s Christmas Carol had some other little Disney shorts before it, one of which was Goofy in The Art of Skiing. It’s extremely hilarious and something I absolutely loved as a child as did my dad. Last Thanksgiving we were talking about it for some reason and thanks to the wonders of YouTube were able to sit and watch it right then and there. It’s still pretty funny.
This video has been making the rounds all day, so chances are if you didn’t see it on TV last night you’ve probably already seen someone else post it. I just now had a few minutes to write about it though. I don’t really watch any late night shows. They are not my thing, but if I did I suspect I would watch Jimmy Fallon’s show. Based on the video clips coming out of it that I see posted on social media he seems to do a lot of fun stuff with music, and you know how I feel about music. Last night Jimmy Fallon, his house band The Roots, and Mariah Carey performed a version of her hit Christmas song, “All I Want For Christmas Is You” on toy instruments. I apparently egregiously left this song off my list of favorite Christmas songs last year, so this post will hopefully redeem me on that count. Also, this performance helps redeem Mariah after the monstrosity that was last year’s version of this song where she performed it as a duet with Justin Beiber. If you never had the misfortune to see that and are wondering what I’m talking about I’ll let you look that up for yourself. I refuse to link to it. Enjoy this much more delightful version instead.
While we’re on the subject of Christmas movies from my childhood that make me nostalgic let’s talk about The Cabbage Patch Kids First Christmas. I was at the quintessential age for the perfect storm of the Cabbage Patch Kids craze. I think I had something like 6 of them before I either outgrew them or they went out of fashion. I also grew up in Georgia outside of Atlanta, so I made more than one trip to the actual birthplace of Cabbage Patch Kids. You could go and see them actually being born from the cabbage heads. Try not to be too jealous.
The Cabbage Patch Kids First Christmas was another 30 minute TV Christmas special. I don’t know if it aired on TV more than once, but we had a copy we recorded from TV to a VHS tape and I watched that any number of times as a kid. In the movie the Cabbage Patch Kids sneak off the cabbage patch into the big, bad city in search of the Christmas Spirit, which they think is some kind of person. While they’re there they befriend an orphan girl who thinks no one will want to adopt her because she’s different, and of course they’re also on the run from some bad guys.
Again I’m looking at this movie with completely nostalgic eyes, so I have no idea how good or bad it actually is. It just totally brings back my childhood to me so I love it no matter what.
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas is a Rankin-Bass animated TV special from 1974. I loved this movie as a kid, although it seemed much longer to me than it actually is. When ABC Family started re-airing it and I saw it for the first time as an adult I was taken aback that it’s only 30 minutes with commercials. It seemed like a full length movie to me as a kid.
The movie is based on the famous poem and centers around 2 families one human and one mouse. Thanks to one of the mouse children Santa is not planning on visiting their town that year. The human father is a clockmaker who is hired to create a special singing clock that will lure Santa there as he flies by the town, but of course the little mouse manages to screw that up too. Don’t worry everything turns out ok in the end. If it it didn’t it would be a pretty bad Christmas movie.
I loved the music in the movie as a kid, and still do today. Though I’m not sure if those feelings are entirely based on nostalgia for the songs. Here’s the song that entices Santa to visit the town and not bypass them after all.