Yes, yes, they are all over the television channels now - even the cheap channels that I receive - those tales of reindeer, and snowmen, and Santas, and elves, religious epics, and the standard tear-jerkers like Miracle on 34th Street (yeah, Macy's!) and It's a Wonderful Life - and Clark W. Griswold is still out there stringing lights and creating an eyesore that can be seen from space. It's Christmas-time and the holiday movies are as thick and deep as the snow in North Pole, Alaska.
While I am jaded enough to not particularly enjoy these seasonal film regurgitations, there are three which I watch whenever the opportunity presents itself. Each, in its own way, delivers a message of hope and happiness and Christmas cheer.
My third favorite holiday movie is Home Alone, the 1990 classic in which an eight-year-old Macaulay Culkin accidentally gets left at home in Chicago as his parents and other family members rush to catch a plane to France for the holidays. The accidentally-abandoned boy makes his own Christmas, terrorizes a pair of burglars, and helps and old man reunite with his estranged family. My son, Tim, who was around eleven at the time, asked me to take him to see this movie, and we both had a great time laughing and snarfing down popcorn.
My second favorite holiday movie is 2004's quasi-animated Polar Express starring Tom Hanks in what I consider to be one of his best roles. The story of a special train taking children on a nighttime journey to the North Pole is from a beautiful children's book by Chris Van Allsburg. I babysat for my grandson, Sebastian, when he was just a few months old and we watched that movie. Several years later when I was visiting Sebastian and his family in Oregon, the kids had their regular Saturday movie night. The movie they watched was Polar Express - and their mother, my daughter - Molly - told me that was the movie they wanted to see every week.
(When my children were young the movie they got "stuck" on was Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.)
And my all-time favorite holiday movie is . . . (drum roll, please!) . . . The Ref, an enormously funny 1994 tale of a professional house burglar (Denis Leary) who is forced to take a couple of hostages as he flees the police. Unfortunately for the burglar, he kidnaps the couple from hell (Judy Davis and Kevin Spacey). This movie, like Danny Devito's and Bette Midler's Ruthless People, is one more take on O. Henry's classic, The Ransom of Red Chief, the tale of kidnappers who snatch a kid and instead of collecting a ransom from the kid's grandfather, wind up having to pay the old man to take the ornery child back. The Ref is hysterical - and I never tire of it!
So those are my big three. Unbelievably I haven't come across any of them playing this holiday season, but I remain ever hopeful. Until then I guess I am stuck with angels trying to earn their wings, a red-nosed reindeer, and annoying little elves. Ho, ho, ho!