Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is in just a few days! I can hardly believe it. It's such a wonderful time of year. It's a time for giving, for family and friends, and for remembering the best gift of all that was given the first Christmas.

Practically everyone in the blogging world (at least those I follow) is sharing lists of favorite books of the year and other sorts of lists. I wanted to share a list of my family's favorite Christmas stories that we try to watch every year.

11. A Christmas Carol

This one is more recent, being a more recent movie, and isn't even my favorite version of the story, but my sister really likes it. It's actually the closest to the book that we've seen, strange, coming from Disney. It's kind of scary, but a faithful adaptation of the classic tale of Ebeneezer Scrooge and the lesson he must learn about turning from his cruel, miserly ways.

10. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

I've been watching this every Christmas for as long as I can remember. My mom said that when she was younger she always looked forward to seeing it on TV. A few Christmases ago, we realized how incredibly rude Santa is in it. Strangely enough, this only amplifies the message. When people are mean, you still should be nice to them. Return cruelty with kindness. Running away doesn't get rid of your problems. It's not wrong to be different. And sometimes those differences will make you the most famous reindeer of all...if you happen to have a shiny red nose.

 9. Miracle on 34th Street

We always try to watch this on Thanksgiving Day. After all, that's when it starts. It's a sweet story about a man who claims to be Santa Claus trying to bring kindness and good will back into the commercialization of Christmas. And when he is accused of insanity, his friend Fred Gayley sets out to prove he really is Santa Claus. We always watch the original, originals are best, and Natalie Wood is so adorable in this movie.

8. The Santa Clause

We've never believed in Santa Claus, but always treated him like any other fictional character. Still, I'm picky about Santa Claus movies. They're so contradictory and not at all believable. The Santa Clause attempts to make it all really work. It's funny, too. An ordinary guy turning into Santa? Awesome. And we often quote Charlie's stupid, politically correct teacher, because she's fun to make fun of. "We don't say stupid. And we don't say elves. They're little people." I also like The Santa Clause 2, though I don't like the third one as much.

 7. A Christmas Story

This one is kind of stupid, has nothing to do with the true meaning of Christmas, and now that we have to watch the DVD instead of the TV version, I wish we had ClearPlay or something similar to filter out the bad language, but it's a family classic. We always watch it on Christmas Day. It's hilarious and extremely quotable. The story of a little boy who wants a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas, it contains such unforgetable things as the leg lamp, the pink bunny suit, the tongue to the pole triple dog dare, and the Santa foot in the face. Peace. Harmony. Comfort and Joy...Maybe next year.

 6. How the Grinch Stole Christmas

We have a very large Grinch doll that we got from my grandparents many years ago. So you might say he's a part of every Christmas. The Grinch hates Christmas, so he sets out to steal it. He takes everything the Whos down in Whoville have. And the crumb that he left was even too small for a mouse. The three words that best describe him are as follows, and I quote, "Stink. Stank. Stunk." But the Whos were still happy. Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from the store. Maybe Christmas, he thought, means a little bit more. His heart grew 3 sizes that day, and he had the strength of ten Grinches, plus two. And he himself, the Grinch, even carved the roast beast.

 5. Scrooge

This is definitely my favorite version of A Christmas Carol. It does deviate from the book (which makes it less scary), but it is full of amazing songs. I can't think of a single one I don't like. I especially love the ones involving the Cratchits, and "Happiness," when Isabel is singing. Scrooge's past is so sad. I feel sorry for him. And in the future, I have to say, I really enjoy "Thank You Very Much." "Thank you very much. Thank you very much. That's the nicest thing that anyone's ever done for me." It's just an amazing adaptation.

 4. White Christmas

 White Christmas is a classic. It's actually a musical where it sort of makes sense for them to sing so much, since the main characters are all performers who write and sing songs all the time. Bob Wallace and Phil Davis meet the sisters of Benny Haynes "the dog-faced boy" Betty and Judy. Through Phil's conniving, they all end up in snowless Vermont at a hotel unbeknownst to them owned by their old general. Business is bad because of the lack of snow, so Bob and Phil decide to give the General the best Christmas gift they can. What do you do with a general when he stops being a general? What do you do with a general who's retired? Misunderstandings happen, and things don't always go so well, but the movie ends beautifully with the knight back up on the white charger.

 3. A Charlie Brown Christmas

This is my personal favorite Christmas special. Charlie Brown is having a difficult time getting into the Christmas spirit. Lucy suggests he needs involvement and gets him to direct their Christmas play. But Charlie Brown realizes that his real problem is that he doesn't know what Christmas is really about. "Can't anyone tell me what Christmas is all about?" "I know, Charlie Brown," Linus answers. And he does. He quotes straight from the Bible what the true meaning of Christmas is. Because it's not commercial. It's about Jesus.

2. It's a Wonderful Life 

Another classic, one of my parents' favorite actors, and one of the best Christmas movies ever. George Bailey led a selfless life. He saved his brother from drowning. He didn't deliver poisoned pills. When his brother Harry came back with a wife and a job offer, George let him take it and kept running Bailey Building and Loans, despite his lifelong dream of traveling. He's not perfect, though. He can be rude, and he certainly has a temper. He gets married, has four children, still runs the Building and Loans, and then Mr. Potter steals $8,000 from absentminded Uncle Billy. George is convinced everyone would be better off if he'd never been born. Clarence Oddbody, A. S. 2 is sent to help him, and he's given the opportunity to find out what things would be like without him. Mr. Potter, that warped, frustrated old man, always makes me really mad, but no man is a failure who has friends.

1. Luke 2:1-20

But of course, the best Christmas story is the original one. The one that started it all. It is the story of the only begotten Son of God, born to the Virgin Mary and laid in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn. A child born to be our salvation, to take all our sins upon Himself to the cross that we might not perish, but have everlasting life.

For unto us a child is born, and unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and he shall call his name, Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. The increase of his government and peace shall have none end: he shall sit upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to stablish it with judgment, and with justice, from henceforth, even forever: the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
--Isaiah 9: 6-7

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