In my experience, the fans of Christmas movies fall into three camps, which fall almost exactly along the generational divide. Fans of "It's a Wonderful Life"/"Miracle on 34th Street" (the older guard), "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" (middle management), and "A Christmas Story" (late GenX through the young guns). But why stop there? There are so many underrated gems of the season to be shared.
(No, the Star Wars Holiday Special is not one of them. Yes, I've seen it, before the age of YouTube. Yes, it is as campy as legend has it.)
Okay, this isn't a movie, but it's one of two specials that I consider mandatory viewing in my house. This one kicks off the holiday season on Thanksgiving at my parents', where we revel in the absurdity of Will Vinton's genius. From the rat pack of camels through the California Raisins, we see that the spirit of the holiday can be both reverent and hysterical. (Three words: "I lost mine.")
- The Bells of Fraggle Rock (Fraggle Rock, Season 3, Episode 1)
This is the second of two specials that are mandatory viewing. While not speaking specifically to any religious tradition, one of the protagonist characters experiences a crisis of faith, a spiritual quest, and redemption. The music, like much of this Jim Henson series, is brilliant and will become part of your holiday listening repertoire.
- The Lemon Drop Kid (1951)
This comedy is a true gem, showcasing Bob Hope at his finest. Its soundtrack delivered a holiday classic in "Silver Bells".
No, I will not repeat John McClane's trademark catchphrase here (use the link, if you must). You have to admit, Christmas Eve is always a great day to save the world, or at the least, your wife.
- Scrooged (1988)