Why 'Christmas Vacation' and 'Bad Santa' are just as good as 'Miracle On 34th Street' and 'A Christmas Carol'
December 17, 2014
It's the Christmas season, and that means Christmas movies! I happen to love Christmas flicks, and I make it a point to see as many of my favorites as time will allow each year about this time. I try to catch a few new ones, too, but I always come back to my stable of favorites. Ooh...see how I worked in that Nativity reference? At any rate, I spend hour upon hour nestled up on the sofa a few feet away from my giant plasma screen with cookies and hot cider and delicious cocoa. I'm there to watch Bill Murray, for the umpteenth time, channel his own version of Scrooge. Or to find out if Ralphie finally gets that Red Rider he's been dreaming of. I get to see Tim Allen as Santa and Macaulay Culkin as Kevin and Will Ferrell as Buddy in their modern-day classics. And, of course, I always make time for Rudolph and Frosty and Charlie Brown and The Grinch and a few other holiday shorts. My season of watching films wouldn't be complete without seeing Liam and Hugh and Emma and Kiera and all the rest do their thing in 'Love Actually'. And don't let me forget my número uno December movie (and one of my all-time favorite films) 'It's A Wonderful Life'. Yep, the last month of the year is a veritable feast for my eyes and ears!
I have a slightly twisted humor, so I'm all for some of the Christmas movies that are just there to make us laugh as opposed to pulling on our heartstrings. As much as I love classics like 'Miracle On 34th Street' (the original version, thank you) and 'A Christmas Carol', I have just as much love for left-of-center flicks like 'Bad Santa' and 'Christmas Vacation'. In fact, I might love them more! Not because they're better movies, but rather because they fill that other side of the hole, so to speak.
Nearly all Christmas movies are warm and fuzzy, and I'm okay with that. It's a warm and fuzzy time of year, when we all try a little harder to channel our inner child and find little ways to to embrace the good and let go of the bad. At least I hope we do. And the vast majority of Christmas movies speak right to the heart of that 'perfect' place I'm talking about. Happy families, picture-worthy feasts, giant presents beside trees that only Martha Stewart could have decorated. But let's face it: very few of us are blessed with such an idealistic reality. Our families are flawed, sometimes a batch of cookies turns out burned, we don't have the budget for all the gifts we'd like to buy, the wintry weather has us fighting a flu bug, and the list goes on. Real life has its ups and downs. More often than not, the downs are skipped during the filming of Christmas movies. Well, at least those that aren't showing on Hallmark or Lifetime. Those channels just TRY to make us cry! At any rate, when I see Clark Griswold struggle to get through the holidays beside his crazy family (what family, after all, doesn't have its own Cousin Eddie?) and Willie (Bad Santa) describe his disdain for the holidays because of his past, I'm reminded that hiding inside of all the bows and baked goods and smiles and credit card receipts each December are real people with real struggles and real concerns about themselves and their friends and families. And somehow that makes me feel better. Crazy, I know. I think it just helps me to keep it all in check a little better. And it also helps me to know that if we're still willing to put on those smiles and bake those cookies and wrap those gifts and sing those carols regardless of any of that negativity that stills oozes on the edges, then Wow!...what an incredible thing Christmas must be!