Favorite Christmas holiday movies

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It's that time of year again--"the most wonderful time of the year!" Holiday season is upon us whether we like it or not. Once we get all the, "gee, where did the time go?" business out of our heads we can start preparing for the holidays. well, except for you Martha Stewart types who already have your holiday shopping completed, gifts wrapped and pre-made dinners frozen.

As for the rest of us, the fun--and the madness--is just beginning. Rather than deal head-on with the nightmare that is family around the holidays--too many people in the house, too much bad-for-you edibles, the chain-smoking relatives obsessed with talking about World War II, the children high off WAY too much sugar, that kind of thing--I like to sit back and watch the madness that is other people's.

I spend a good deal of time in November and December watching holiday movies. Some are funny, some are sad and some are uplifting. Most I've seen way too many times to count, yet I watch them again and again, year after year. Why is that? Most likely because holidays are the same for everyone who celebrates a particular holiday.

They're supposed to be fun, and often they are, but they're also trying. Holidays bring out the best and worst in people. Holiday movies do the same, but tend to amplify the joy or pain.

Speaking of joy and pain, I guess my favorite Christmas movie is National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Well, at least my adult favorite is. Sure, it's silly and trite and a lot of the jokes are hammy and overplayed--but hey, so are the holidays!

The people in Clark Griswold's family are like the people in my family. The food and the animals and the business with getting the tree are all over-amplified in the film, but I think we can all relate. And it's so much easier to watch Clark and his family go through it than think about putting my own household through that.

Plus, it is kind of funny. There are parts that still make me laugh--all the stuff with the snooty neighbors, one of whom is played by the effervescent Julia Lewis-Dreyfus, is hilarious.

In my heart of hearts, though, the Peanuts Christmas Special tops the list, now and for all time. It's the sweetest thing ever, and I love watching it every year. In fact, it's an annual tradition in my house. It probably will be for as long as I live. The tiny tree that could, the pageant, the real meaning of Christmas--and Snoopy's commercialism of the holiday--all of it still rings true now that I'm an adult.

Heck, it probably rings true even more so. After all, the Peanuts seem to have been designed with adults in mind. Most of the jokes are of an adult caliber, even if the stars are kids.

My new favorite Christmas is Elf. That movie has me belly-laughing every time I see it. I actually went so far as to purchase it so I wouldn't have to wait for it on Netflix. the ending is cheesy, but aren't the endings to all those movies cheesy? And it's a movie I could watch with kids or my parents or whomever.

Many people cite It's a Wonderful Life as their favorite. Still others go for Home for the Holidays. The cult fans among us prefer Black Christmas.

Other favorites of mine? When Harry Met Sally--yes, there are two Christmas scenes and two New Year's scenes; I also love the original Die Hard and Bad Santa, although the latter is not appropriate for kids. Repeat: NOT appropriate.

And who could forget Christmas Story? I actually don't think it's that funny, and could never seem to get away from it as a kid--it was ALWAYS on in heavy rotation--but it still has a place in my heart. The cold dark part. Just kidding. When the kid gets his tongue stuck it's still pretty funny to me.

And would you believe it but I've NEVER seen Miracle on 34th Street? How this happened is a miracle in and of itself. I guess if there is one new film I watch this year it will have to be this Christmas classic.

It saddens me that there aren't the same amount of movies for other holidays--what about Hanukkah? As far as I know (and I admit I don't know much) Adam Sandler is one of the few offerings for Jewish holidays. Surefire funny, but I'd like to see a few more movies celebrating holidays other than Christmas.

What about you? Any interesting and fun holiday movies you love that you'd like to share? I am always surprised at what tops everyone's list!

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