One holiday. One month. One woman. Thirty individual movies. Readers ready? Go!
You may say it can't be done. You may say I'm crazy for even attempting-- nay, even wanting to attempt. You may get bored halfway through and give up, but I never will. No, Christmas is without a doubt my favorite time of the year. Especially now that I live in Los Angeles and can still spend the "cold" month of December at the beach. I love everything about it-- from the fake-snow covered mall Santa displays to the overpriced gingerbread houses and boxes of candy adorned with red and green ribbons. I love drinking hot chocolate for breakfast and staring at a giant tree (though mine is fake because of how well I can't keep plants alive in my house), on which I notice a new section of memories each day. And I especially love all of the cheesy Christmas movies that come with the season!
And I always have.
Sometimes when I'm feeling particular bored on a hot August weekend, I'll pop in one such holiday film to remind myself that the season of giving is really just around the corner. So needless to say, when I came up with the "challenge" to watch one Christmas movie a day starting on Thanksgiving and leading up to and including Christmas morning itself, I knew it would be a piece of cake. Warm, fresh from the oven, chocolate chip with lots of extra chocolate icing Christmas cake.
My friends raised eyebrows: "How will you find thirty Christmas movies!?" They were skeptical and hesitant, assuming I was setting myself up for failure. Meanwhile, my question was how I'd cut it down to only thirty! I am putting together the Ultimate List (at least to date-- because with the invention of ABC Family Channel we get about half a dozen new ones every year!) of Christmas movies that meant something to me as a child and ones that do (or still do) now. It will be a healthy mix of classics and those more modern. And I'm sure I will have to end up leaving many off the list, simply because society says Christmas festivities must end at the strike of midnight on December 26th. Or maybe if it's going well, and we're all having fun, I'll extend this "experiment" until New Year's-- to keep the hope and joy of the season alive just a little bit longer-- at least as long as I keep up my tree. I've never been one to just blindly follow traditions because those who came before me said I had to, anyway.
My family was never all about baking popcorn balls or wearing matching reindeer sweaters (thankfully!). My mom and I were much more into gift giving (and receiving). We would start the holiday season off early, hitting Hallmark the second they put out their new ornaments for the year, and we would end on Black Friday, finishing our holiday shopping at Bloomingdale's and then walking our way down Fifth Avenue for any straggler stocking stuffers we may need-- a pair of gloves for my teacher that year or boxes of Godiva for the guys in her mailroom.
Nowadays, I use Black Friday-- or rather the day before, which most will traditionally refer to as Thanksgiving, but which I do as Christmas Kickoff! On that third Thursday of November I put up my tree (though this year I found I had to fight myself to wait even that long!), and I begin my annual marathon of classic holiday films with everyone's favorite: Home Alone.
Can you believe it's almost twenty years since that film was released, by the way? That means I have had this tradition for almost as long...oh boy! Anyway, I digress.
When I was a kid, the magic of Home Alone was in what Kevin McAllister (Macaulay Culkin) was able to accomplish on his own. I was younger than his character when the film was first released, and watching him rig his house full of booby traps to catch the bad guys was almost inspirational. I found myself digging through my Playskool toy bins after returning home from the theater to see if I, too, could pull something like that off if situation called for it. Plus, Culkin was pretty cute to my elementary-school aged self!
Home Alone spoke to the part of me that was rushing to grow up too soon and just wanted to spend Christmas away from the crazies in my family so I could do it "my way." It featured all of the family Christmas traditions (decorating the tree, ice skating, attending mass-- for those who grew up Catholic, anyway) but without the big, loud, and as we learned from the opening scenes, obnoxious meddlers.
But the film has heart and a message, which is what every one of these films needs to be watched and re-watched year after year instead of just pushed aside like a gimmicky, dated pop fad. Though Culkin truly carried the film, Catherine O'Hara's touching and surprisingly dramatic role as his guilt-ridden mother steals scenes left and right-- whether she's stealing pay phones from French airport travelers or bonding over polka and bad parent stories with the late and great John Candy in the back of a truck.
Home Alone really is the quintessential holiday movie! And for an added laugh, watch it when it airs censored for television. The ADR replacement of "growing on my...butt" is pretty awesome in and of itself!
It's only day one of my 30 Days of Christmas, but "do you guys give up, or are you thirsty for more!?" Grab your hot cocoa-- and maybe a sugar cookie or strand of popcorn-- and sit back, because you're in for one bumpy sleighride!