By Del Duduit
WARNING: Cheesy blog ahead:
With Christmas Day next week, I wanted to write a post and stay within the Spirit of the Season. I wrote about some of my favorite Christmas songs last week and wanted to touch on another part of the Christmas season.
I enjoy trying to send a message of encouragement through my blogs or tell an inspirational story. Most of the time, the tables are turned, and I am the one who is lifted up by wonderful comments or retweets or shares.
Today, I’m simply going to share my top five Christmas movies and the message I think they send.
No. 5 – A Christmas Story: I had always seen this advertised but it never appealed to me. A couple of years ago, Angie and I had our first “empty nest” Christmas Day and decided to watch the movie. We loved it! The film was made in 1983 and is hilarious. Ralphie Parker narrates his own story about when he was nine years old and the only item on his Christmas list was a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle. His desire was often squashed by his mother, his teacher and even Santa Claus at the Higbee’s Department Store. They all gave the same warning; “You’ll shoot your eye out.”
Christmas Day arrives and Ralphie dives into his presents. He enjoys some of them but is disappointed he did not find his ultimate prize. He wanted that rifle more than anything. But then his father, “The Old Man,” played by Darren McGavin, tells his boy to look at the present he had not opened.
What was it? Watch the movie and find out. Plus, the final scene at the Chinese Restaurant will leave you laughing harder than Old Saint Nick himself.
Deck the harrs with boughs of horry; fa ra ra, fa ra ra, fa ra ra (You’ll get it after you watch the movie.)
Takeaway: Ralphie wanted the rifle so bad he did everything he could to get it for Christmas. Be passionate about what you want in life and for what God has in store for you. But be careful how you use your talents and make sure you do things for the right reasons. If you don’t, you might just shoot your eye out.
No. 4 – It’s a Wonderful Life: What can I say about this 1946 classic? It’s the ultimate feel-good movie. Jimmy Stewart plays George Bailey who is a successful business person in his small home town of Bedford Falls, New York. He becomes discouraged with circumstances and is granted the opportunity to see how life would be for his loved ones if he had never been born. Clarence, his lovable guardian angel takes George on a journey that changes his attitude and perspective on life forever.
If you have never seen this five-star film by Frank Capra, watch it. If you have seen this comedy-drama, I’m sure you’ll watch it again this year.
Favorite quote: George to Mary:
You look older without your clothes on.
Takeaway: There are dozens of lessons in this entertaining film. But the point of it is to appreciate your life and display gratitude. Life is not measured in money, cars, lavish trips or even on Social Media. It is measured by the special moments when you love and touch someone’s life in a positive way. You’ll never know the true impact you can have on a person, a community, or a loved one. Be thankful for your life. It may not turn out like you dreamed, but then again…. it’s just what God has in store for you. Your life can be wonderful.
No. 3 – A Charlie Brown Christmas: This 1965 television special by Charles M. Schultz is a masterpiece. The Peanuts gang is excited about the start of winter. Charlie is depressed about the upcoming Holiday and Lucy suggests to him to direct the neighborhood Christmas play to snap out of his mindset. He is mocked by his peers and his efforts are ignored. Linus tells Charlie about the true meaning of Christmas and that cheers him up. Snoopy and Woodstock also get in on the festivities.
Favorite quote: Charlie talking about his sad Christmas tree:
I don’t care. We’ll decorate it and it’ll be just right for our play. Besides, I think it needs me.
Takeaway: Many people experience depression this time of year. Although we are around family and friends, there is a unique lonely feeling at times. That’s when you surround yourself with friends and find what you long for in something unique. Instead of hunting for the special gift, go out and sing carols to those who are shut in or sick. Do something different and toss out the commercialization. For Charlie, it was sprucing up a Christmas tree and taking pride in the project. And he was also told what Christmas is all about by Linus. Never forget why we celebrate Christmas.
No. 2 – How the Grinch Stole Christmas: Angie and I took the boys to Hollywood and saw the set where the movie had just wrapped up filming. That peaked our interest and we have watched it ever since. The movie, directed by Ron Howard, is based on the classic Dr. Seuss book from 1957. You know the plot well. All the residents of “Whoville” celebrate Christmas, except for the Grinch, who is a diabolical creature filled with hate for the holiday. No one likes the Grinch, until he is befriended by six-year-old Cindy Lou Who, who has a mission to include him in the festivities after she learned of his tragic past. Chaos arrives, and the laughs begin. The movie is cleverly written and a delight to watch with the family. (NOTE) This was a difficult choice, given the fact that the star of this movie is a liberal and foul-mouthed socialist. But Merry Christmas Jim.
Favorite quote: Grinch to Cindy Lou:
Now you listen to me, young lady! Even if we’re horribly mangled, there’ll be no sad faces on Christmas.
Takeaway: Christmas does not come from a store. The meaning of Christmas is not in ribbons and sales, but there is a true message for the Holiday. Although it doesn’t direct the viewer to the real meaning of Christmas, it does suggest there is more than “packages, boxes and bags.” It will make you smile and ponder at the same time. What is Christmas to you? Have you ever been a Grinch? Let the past go and enjoy Christmas today!
No. 1 – Christmas Vacation: Oh yeah. This 1989 hilarious movie has it all. The more I watch it, I feel as though I’m a cast member. Angie and I have seen this at least 20 times and it’s always funny. To summarize, Clark Griswold, played by Chevy Chase, decides to go all out for Christmas. He decorates his home to the max and wants desperately to provide the “perfect Christmas” for his family and invites his parents and in-laws to his home. Cousin Eddie shows up unexpectedly and adds a touch of charm to the film. Chaos and laughter abound throughout the movie. Plus, it tosses in That Spirit of Christmas by Ray Charles. There are tons more I can write but my advice to you is to sit down and watch this movie.
Worse? How could things get any worse? Take a look around here, Ellen. We’re at the threshold of hell.
Takeaway: Family means everything. For better or worse, try to embrace your family and give them the best you can offer. Put aside any differences and don’t let the little things bother you. The movies also suggest that hard work pays off. Clark did not give up when the lights would not come on, instead he kept with his plan and made sure everyone had a Christmas to remember. Another key point is that a dried-up tree, a curious cat munching on lights and Uncle Lewis lighting his “Stogie” are all highly flammable.
There are a couple of honorable-mention movies such as Miracle of 34th Street and Die Hard (it’s a Christmas movie in my opinion.)
I like movies. And over the long weekend, Angie and I will snuggle up with some hot chocolate and Arlene’s delicious Christmas sugar cookies and enjoy our favorite films. We only watch them this time of the year, but we keep the meaning of the season all year round.
‘For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.’ … that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown. (Linus)
What is your favorite Christmas movie and why? Do you get sidetracked and forget about why we celebrate this sacred day?
Del Duduit is an award-winning writer and author who lives in Lucasville, Ohio with his wife, Angie. They attend Rubyville Community Church. Follow his blog at delduduit.com/blog and his Twitter @delduduit. He is represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency.