December 2008

Make Life Awesome With Awesome Holiday Movies

Author: craig hysell

In 2003, Bethany Hamilton lost an arm to a shark attack when she was 13. Three weeks later she was back out on her surfboard. Not long after that she was competing as an amateur surfer. And winning.

Josh Sommer found out he had a particularly rare and vicious type of cancer during his freshman year of college. He began the Chordoma Foundation ( in 2007, one year later. The aggressive non-profit brought together scientists from all over the world to address chordoma at the foundation’s first conference. It was the first chordoma meeting of its kind. Ever.

Oscar Pistorius is a double amputee below his knees. He is a world-record holder in 100, 200 and 400 meter running events.

These are just small samples of what positively motivated human spirits can do. It is completely natural and understandable to worry—especially lately—about a host of issues. It’s also completely within reason to cut some of that deadweight loose and enjoy the holidays with your family. (How has worrying made your life better, anyway?)

Turn down the lights, throw a Yule log in ye old hearth (if ye have them), light some evergreen-scented candles, pop some popcorn and deposit one of these great holiday movies into the DVD player. Take a deep breath, look around and enjoy where you are for a moment. The holidays are great for reminding us all that life is what we make it. These movies help. Now push play.

The Classics.

1. It’s a Wonderful Life. James Stewart, Donna Reed and Zuzu’s petals. If this movie doesn’t knock some sense into you, you might consider seeking professional help. Going through life thinking you do not amount to anything and actually not amounting to anything are two drastic and ghastly different things. There’s nothing like the relief and epiphany on George Bailey’s face when he realizes this. “Bert? Ya know me?” Where’s Zuzu’s petals? And the tissues? There they are!

2. A Christmas Carol (1951 version). The holidays just aren’t right without Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit and Ebenezer Scrooge. Alastair Sim as the tortured-into-redemption Scrooge is priceless. Go back in time with the black and white version if it’s possible: Pixar and hi-def don’t make everything better.

3. Miracle on 34th Street. Santa comes out from behind the curtain of commercialism. Maureen O’Hara, a young Natalie Wood and Macy’s are never the same again. Is Santa real? How real was he to you when you were a kid? How real is he to the little ones in your life today? There’s your answer. “Real” is in the eye of the beholder. This movie makes it okay to believe. Even today.

The New Classics

1. A Christmas Story. Ralphie. Red Ryder. Triple dog dares. Scott Farkus. Lifebuoy. The Bumpus Hounds. Fra-gee-lay. And one of the most superbly written, acted and directed holiday movies of all time. It’s even okay to watch this one in its edited version on TBS. The 24-hour A Christmas Story marathon starts every Christmas Eve at 8 p.m. About 40 million people tune in each year. Fa rah rah ra rah, ra rah rah raaa.

2. Scrooged. This hilarious and touching 1988 ode to A Christmas Carol stars Bill Murray on top of his game (when is he not?) in the role of Francis Xavier Cross (“a thing they nail people to”). Carol Kane as the ghost of Christmas Present, Robert Mitchum as Preston Rhinelander and Bobcat Goldthwaite as the hapless Eliot Loudermilk put in fantastic supporting performances. A great twist on an already classic holiday tale.

3. Elf. “You smell like beef and cheese. You don’t smell like Santa.” Will Ferrell as Buddy the Elf is absolutely hilarious—seeing Ferrell walk around New York City in an elf costume (watch out for cabs!) is alone worth the price of the DVD rental. This movie is perfect for the family whose teenagers might just be a little too cool for holiday movie night; and it just may have you answering your phone, “[Insert your name here] the elf, what’s your favorite color?”

A wonderful attitude creates a wonderful life, so grab your mistletoe hat and put a little love in your heart. Happy holidays

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