Corny and obvious, but "A Christmas Story"( love that lamp!), and "It's a Wonderful Life" help make it complete for me. But the real nostalgia trip I enjoy is a DVD of some old stop-motion animated shorts that Frazier Thomas used to run on WGN-TV channel 9 during holiday epsiodes of "Garfield Goose and Friends" in the 60's.
The films are even older than that show, they were made by a company called Centaur films and not too much is known about them (wiki and youtube have samples). One is called "Hardrock, Coco, and Joe" and is about three elves that help Santa fly the sleigh and make deliveries.
A second short is "Suzy Snowflake" (um, be careful how you google image search for that one, leave your filter on extra-careful setting, don't ask). Suzy the winter fairy flys thru town adding frost and snow with her magic wand to make the season pretty.
Anyhow, they are not especially GOOD animations, but for millions of old Chicagoans they hit a super-sentimental nostalgic chord as a mainstay of their childhood TV memories. It's like how hearing the "Little Drummer Boy" song will make you tear up unexpectedly, thinking back to childhood Christmas times past, and people long gone. Guess I'm overly sentimental.
A local furniture store dug up copies of these films a couple years back, and had them professionally cleaned up and burned to DVD as a way to get people to come into the store (to get a free copy).
Brilliant marketing, as the DVD also contains their humerous commercials and some cute and goofy intro hosting bits to the animations. Do you know of another furniture company who's promo DVD becomes a family heirloom, played every year?
It's a Wonderful Life
best Christmas movie EVER! Charlie, I couldn't agree with you more!
Best Christmas Pageant Ever http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0085231/
Loretta Swit tries to wrangle the natural disaster known as The Herdman family into performing in a church Christmas pageant. Very cute movie, please don't overanalyze it...
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Linus recites from the Gospel of Luke in the best VO I've ever heard of the Christmas story, then tritely says, "That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown." Brilliant! The story behind this cartoon, a complete departure from the typical Christmas special, really bears repeating. A Charlie Brown Christmas originally ticked of the networks, because it was so off beat and "too religious" for primetime. I believe CBS finally gave it a trial run, and the response was off the charts. It went on to become one of their most successful Christmas specials.
"Christmas Vacation" is my all-time favorite. There are so many inside jokes in it that you can watch it ten times and notice different things every time. I used to wish I had an audio system like the neighbor's had - now it looks SO dated. ;-)
My brothers and I used to count down the days each year until our local network aired The "Charlie Brown Christmas" special. By the time the NBC peacock logo came on each year to kick the show off, we were giddy. Wait, maybe that's my favorite... I'm downloading it from iTunes tonight so my kids can watch it on our upcoming 14-hour drive to visit their grandparents this Christmas. I hope my kids like it as much as I do... because they are probably going to see it several times. ;-)
I grew up in rural Tennessee, and around the time the Charlie Brown special aired, the Channel 5 station in Nashville also used to air a short seasonal animated station promo that had kids walk up to a toy store window, wipe off the snow, and peer inside to watch the toys. "Music Box Dancer" was the song that played under the visuals. It was probably only 30 or 60 seconds, but that promo ranks right up there with my most nostalgic child memories.
I'd have to go with Miracle on 34th Street, Christmas in Connecticut and Holiday Inn. I dislike the colorized version of 34th St. but that's all I could find.
My wife and I start playing snow movies first...Silverado, Hunt for Red October, any DVD we have that shows snow. Then we graduate to semi-Christmas movies like While You Were Sleeping and Sleepless in Seattle. Then we go hard for the 3 above plus White Christmas, The Preacher's Wife, The Lemondrop Kid and a few others. I usually use December to burn unused vacation so when not cutting and splitting wood for the stove or running errands for my wife, I'm in my chair with a Cheerwine or Diet Dr. Pepper watching a DVD.
And a merry Christmas to all!
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