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Perennial Christmas favorites foster holiday spirit

Michelle Fordice | Sunday, December 3, 2006

Between the finals, papers and general stress of the end of the semester, the fact that Christmas is around the corner sometimes gets lost.

But fear not. Christmas trees are appearing across campus, Christmas music is playing on the radio, and television stations are starting to play all of the classic favorites.

There is something about Christmas movies that makes it feel like it’s the holiday season again. Whether it’s because they were all we watched for a month when we were kids or because of their sweet nature, it’s not Christmas without a certain few.

10. “It’s a Wonderful Life” – There can’t be a Christmas movie list without this Frank Capra film starring James Stewart. This touching story reminds us of the importance of life, pure and simple.

9. “Rankin/Bass Christmas Specials” – These famous stop-motion and animated shows, including “Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer,” “The Year Without a Santa Clause,” “The Little Drummer Boy,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “Jack Frost,” have played on TV stations ever since they premiered in the 1960s. Something about their simple animation and spirited spins on some of the classic Christmas stories makes them appealing year in and year out.

8. “Miracle on 34th Street” – I remember watching both versions of this movie over and over again right before Christmas. Cynicism disappears as we all start believing in Santa Clause again, even just for a little while.

7. “Little Women” – All right. It isn’t really a Christmas movie. But it gives me that snowy and cozy Christmas feeling, so it’s included anyway. “Little Women” is the perfect story of family love (set among some great snow scenes) that inspires you to spend more time with your own.

6. “Meet Me in St. Louis” – This movie could be included solely because it is the birthplace of the song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” sung by Judy Garland, but its sweet love stories make it all the better.

5. “The Santa Claus” – Starring Tim Allen, this is one of the funniest Christmas movies and definitely one of the best in recent years. The story of what happens when Santa gets replaced by the unlikeliest of men, “The Santa Clause” will warm your heart either from sincerity or laughter.

4. “The Small One” – I have yet to find anyone else who remembers this one, but I can’t resist including the movie I had practically memorized as a little girl that made me cry every time. A short 1978 Disney animated cartoon, “The Small One” tells the story of a boy who must part with his pet donkey, but the only one who will buy him is the tanner. When all hope seems lost, a man offers to buy the donkey, so that he can bring his pregnant wife to Bethlehem.

3. “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” – Your head may not be screwed on just right if you can resist the original animated version. Dr. Seuss’ unforgettable story of the mean and cynical Grinch who sets out to destroy Christmas for the Whos helps us remember that it can come without “packages, boxes, or bags!”

2. “A Christmas Carol” – Whether it stars Alastair Sim, Patrick Stewart or the Muppets, you can’t go through the Christmas season without watching some version of Dickens’ classic tale.

1. “A Charlie Brown Christmas” – In my favorite, Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest of the gang get past the commercialism of Christmas and find out, as Linus says, what “Christmas is all about.” This movie is the epitome of everything Christmas. It’s a childhood memory, it’s sweet and funny and it reminds us that Christmas is a celebration of the birth of our Savior, Christ the Lord.

Have a Merry Christmas!

Contact Michelle Fordice at mfordice@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.