Traditional Christmas Movies?

It’s officially December. Christmas trees are up and decorated. Holiday tunes stream from every speaker. Tis the season for joy and family and festivities.

Growing up, Christmas time always meant special movie and television traditions. Of course It’s a Wonderful Life is a big part of Christmas. I recall several holidays at my grandmother’s house when all the cousins would gather around the TV to watch A Christmas Carol starring George C. Scott. And I still have a tough time getting in the Christmas spirit without A Charlie Brown Christmas. My favorite book from childhood was Little Women, and I have grown to love most of the movie adaptations of this book as well.

My first date with my husband was to see A Christmas Story, which has become a contemporary classic, along with National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Elf. I have my own traditions, too, like decorating our tree while watching While You Were Sleeping. This year it took longer than usual, so I enjoyed Penny Serenade, too. Neither of these films are specifically Christmas movies, but they feature a holiday setting.

But what about holiday traditions that have nothing to do with Christmas at all?

I have friends that love to watch Jurassic Park at Christmastime. For them it’s about getting their family together and enjoying a quiet (though dino-filled) evening. What’s more Christmas-y than that? Another friend makes a weekend date with her family to stay in and have a Lord of the Rings marathon. This year is especially exciting for her with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey arriving next week in theatres.

Do you have a Christmas movie tradition to share? I’d love to hear what films you love best for the holidays!

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading.

With Whom?

Have you ever watched a movie, formed an opinion about it, watched it again—maybe several years later—and wondered, “What was I thinking?”

Maybe you hated it the second time. Maybe you loved it. Either way, you completely reversed your outlook on the picture. Why? Was it that you matured? Maybe your tastes have just changed.

Another possibility to consider: the person with whom you saw the movie. Did you see it with your sweetheart the first time? Did you watch with your best friend? Were you sitting with your parents (and totally embarrassed and weirded-out) that first time?

I believe that whom you share a movie experience with has a huge impact on your opinion of the film. Think about how you feel when you’re with someone you love. Think about spending a carefree night with a close friend. It seems that friends and loved ones make everything better. (Unless you’re stuck with your mom covering your eyes during a surprise love scene.) Having a friend with you sets the stage for your expectations.

Think about how it is to go through something exciting, thrilling, frightening, or beautiful with another person. It will either draw you closer or tear you apart. Though the story on the screen isn’t real, the feelings you experience can be. The way you feel about the person you share this event with can cast a shade over the whole thing.

AND, I will go on to suggest that how your relationship grows or changes over the years can affect the way you look back on the movie, as well.

The memories that I have from seeing Superman, Jaws 3D, Return of the Jedi, Midnight Madness, Mission Impossible, and The Right Stuff, are vastly different from the memories I have from seeing Christmas Story, Weird Science, or The Ghost and the Darkness. The latter bunch I saw with my husband, and the former I saw with family and friends. They each, in their own way, altered how I saw each film at the time, and how I feel about them now.

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading!