Being in Love with Holiday Films.
Thanksgiving is next Thursday, and naturally, I’m getting excited. However, it’s not the upcoming feast that’s making me happy (although I would literally kill a family member if it got me a piece of pumpkin pie—with whipped cream, obviously. I’m not a total animal.) No, what thrills me about Thanksgiving is a tradition that my mother started when my sister and I were little. Before going to my aunt’s for the big family dinner, we get all the Christmas decorations out of the attic and bring them to the living room. We re-open boxes and containers, finding forgotten things or ornaments that we know we must put on the tree.
Now, I’m sure you’re all thinking “what does all this have to do with old films?” I’ll tell you: for me, Thanksgiving is the kick-off for Christmas movies, arguably my favorite time of the year. And it all begins with HOLIDAY INN. Ever since I can remember, decorating the Christmas tree on Thanksgiving was never complete without watching HOLIDAY INN. It’s so deeply embedded in our tradition, and personally, the film is extremely important to me. As I’ve mentioned before, it was my first black-and-white film and my first encounters with two guys named Bing and Fred. The fact that this movie isn’t remembered nearly as much as WHITE CHRISTMAS irritates me to no end. (But that’s for another time.)
Besides HOLIDAY INN, I seriously cannot get enough of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. I know it wasn’t intended as a holiday film, but it almost doesn’t feel right if I try to watch it any other time. Oddly enough, that’s part of why I love Christmas films. When I think of something like MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET or THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER, I’m transported back to my living room, the only light coming from the Christmas tree and maybe from the kitchen, too. The fireplace is on and I’m sitting on the couch with my sister, sometimes by myself with my dog. One of my favorite times with my sister was when we were watching WONDERFUL LIFE for the umpteenth time last year. We were crying messes by the end, but neither one of us wanted to let the other know that. We tentatively looked at each other and realized that George Bailey had gotten us both.
Thanksgiving and Christmas give me some of my happiest film experiences, and because of that, I feel a strong connection to holiday films. They evoke so many memories, so much so that when my sister told me her fiancé had never seen IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE or WHITE CHRISTMAS, I almost fainted. To think that someone else didn’t have that experience was crazy to me. But then I remembered that that’s the beauty of holiday movies. You come across a film during this time that just seems to attach itself to you, and soon it becomes part of your tradition and your life.
Next Thursday cannot come soon enough for me, but until then, I’ll be dreaming of pumpkin pie and humming “Be Careful, It’s My Heart”…and that's something to be thankful for.