Tag Archives: Christmas Vacation

Movie Countdown to Christmas


I’m a sucker for a sappy romantic Christmas movie, and every year I make a list of must-see favorites.  I just don’t feel like Christmas is complete until my list is checked off and I’m settled into the very last one…A Christmas Story…which is always shown as a 24-hour marathon on one of the TV stations on Christmas Eve.

Maybe it’s just habit or another tradition, but I need the reminders of love portrayed in these movies that warm my heart and give me hope that people are basically driven by good and by love.  Love for each other…love for their family…love for their friends.

And so, in case you were wondering, I’ve listed my all-time favorites and why they are just that.

Christmas Vacation – This is my must-see Thanksgiving evening movie that kicks off the whole Christmas movie season.  Yes, it’s corny and kind of goofy, but the way Chevy Chase is driven to give his beloved family the perfect Christmas despite all their dysfunctions is a reminder that no family is perfect, and yet where there is family, there is love.

Bridget Jones’ Diary– This is a love/hate movie which is so typical in most instant-hate meetings that turns into love over time.  Who doesn’t melt when Renee Zellweger chases Colin Firth down the snowy English street, and he wraps his arms and coat around her and kisses her like she’s never been kissed.  She says, “Wait a minute…nice boys don’t kiss like that.”  And he says, “Yes, they f _ _ king do.” Who doesn’t want to be kissed like that?! Besides, he loves her just the way she is.

The Holiday – I want to go to England every time I watch this flick – to the little cottage portrayed in this movie and meet my Judd Law in a little pub in the countryside.  Who doesn’t?!   It’s a movie about people who think they know what’s good for them until they try something totally different.  It makes you just want to fly off for Christmas and find true love. Christmas, that is, in a snowy English countryside in a cozy cottage – is this over the top romantic, or what?!  Plus, Judd’s two little daughters in the movie just charm the socks off me.

Home Alone – A mother’s love will conquer even the mistake of leaving her son behind when the family goes on vacation. She will stop at nothing to make her way back to her son no matter what the cost or difficulty.  I just love this, plus Macaulay Culkin is just so entertaining, and it takes place in a beautiful home that reeks of warm and cozy and family.

Serendipity – This movie confirms for me that all things happen for a reason.  That you are meant to meet that one special person in the right timing…and that if it’s meant to be, it will happen no matter what the wait and what the circumstances. I want John Cusack.  Enough said.

The Family Stone – Another miss-matched couple find true love with other people who happen to be family related. Uptight Sarah Jessica Parker eventually matched with easy-going Ben Wilson instead of his equally uptight, egomaniac brother.  Who can’t resist Ben when he tells Sarah to just relax, let her hair down and let her freak flag fly?!  Of course, this movie also deals with Ben’s mother’s cancer and knowing this will be their last Christmas together with her is sad.  Another tear-jerker, but lots of fun. Plus, I get to look at Craig T. Nelson for two hours…heavy sigh…

When Harry Met Sally – Yes, Harry is annoying and so is Sally with her obsessive/compulsive craziness. This is another love/hate movie, which are my favorites.  You know love is going to win out, and it does despite Harry’s defect of not being able to commit and Sally’s insistence that everything she eats be separate and on the side.  When Billy Crystal takes Meg Ryan into his arms and tells her “when you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want it to begin as soon as possible,” you just have to smile.

While You Were Sleeping – It’s a whirlwind series of misunderstandings that lead Sandra Bullock to the love her life, carpenter Bill Pullman with his tight jeans and work boots. When Sandra saves a man she has a huge crush on from a train wreck, he falls into a coma and somehow she is mistaken for his fiancée.  She lets the story play on only with his family so she could have the experience of a real-life caring family, which she so desperately desires.  It portrays the true loneliness that people feel during the Christmas season and ends with Sandra Bullock finding the love of her life and the family she so desperately needs.

You’ve Got Mail – OK, I can’t resist Tom Hanks, especially when he coyly tries to help Meg Ryan after he inadvertently destroys her cute little book business.  This movie starts out with the couple’s intense dislike, then friendship and eventually love. Plus, he brings her daisies when she’s sick in bed, and who can resist a guy like that?!

The Gathering – This is an old, old, made for TV movie that I have on VHS.  I don’t know how I’m going to play it this year, since the VHS player isn’t working.  I can only hope.  The premise goes like this…A career-driven father, played by Ed Asner, who has put business before family and who has been estranged from his wife and family for some time finds out he is dying and wants to see his family one more time. His ex-wife arranges a Christmas reunion of his children for their sakes, not his. They don’t know he is sick, so it’s about reconnecting with family and finding out that true love never dies.  He sees his newborn grandson, who they have christened on Christmas Day, for the first…and last time. Get out your tissues…

White Christmas – Another corny, sappy musical of all things…but it’s just beautiful, entertaining, sweet and fun.  Christmas can’t happen for me until I see that barn door open to a beautiful Christmas Eve snowfall as Bing Crosby sings.

A Wonderful Life – Yes, this is the ultimate, old-time heart grabber that proves love wins over money every time and family is what is most important in life. And no matter how many times you see it, the message comes through loud and clear and deserves repeating just to remind us.  We get it! Every time you hear a bell ring, an angel gets his wings.

A Christmas Story– This is usually last in line shown on Christmas Eve. Who doesn’t get teary eyed when this little boy has accepted the fact that despite all the hints he’s dropped and even telling Santa,  he’s not going to get his “Red Ryder carbine-action, two hundred shot Range Model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time,” only to watch his father’s excited expression as his son discovers with glee the ultimate gift he’s hidden for him behind the desk. Even though he does, indeed, almost shoot his eye out in the end, you gotta love that Dad who wanted nothing more than to fulfill his son’s Christmas dream. My brother got a BB gun for Christmas one year when he was just about the same age.  Luckily, he never shot his eye out!

Well, these are my favorites. I hope I haven’t forgotten any, although I do like the corniness of ELF as well.  As you can tell, I’ve had crushes on a lot of Christmas movie stars. Colin, Judd,  John, Ben, Billy, Bill, Craig and of course, Tom.  I’ll add each and every one of them to my Christmas wish list again this year. I can dream, can’t I?!?!

Time to get into my jammies, grab a cup of tea and a cozy blanket as I curl up on the couch and get watching – Christmas will be here before I know it!

What are your favorites?



Tradition: A delicate little gravy boat and pretty crystal bowl.

Mom and Dad in their younger years.

I’m missing my Mom this morning as I think about Thanksgiving preparations and what needs to be done. Where’s her gravy boat, I ask myself and then frantically search the kitchen cabinets to find it.  There it is – the delicate hand-painted china boat with saucer attached – so familiar.  Then I find her small crystal bowl in which I serve cole slaw just like she did. Having these two pieces, which belonged to her and graced every Thanksgiving table since I was a kid is important for me.  It’s a tradition. Having these same pieces along with her china makes me feel that in some small way my Mom and Dad are still here with me, even though they passed 16 years ago.

I miss my Aunt Vi, too, my godmother.  She came to every one of our Thanksgiving celebrations.  We would have a rum egg nog together sprinkled with a little nutmeg as we toasted the day.  She always held a napkin around the glass to catch the moisture.  Then she insisted on making the gravy, which came out so thick a spoon could stand up in the concoction.  Someone once wisecracked that Vi’s gravy eats like a meal

I can still picture my Grandpop at the table with that smile that told you he was up to something.  There’s gruff Uncle Henry at the other end taking it all in and telling silly jokes. I see Dad quietly enjoying his meal – shoveling it in and savoring each morsel. Over there my brother and I are kids again, trying not to fight – trying not to open our full mouths to gross each other out when our parents aren’t looking. I see my kids at that same table at each stage of life…first as little babies in high chairs, then picky toddlers, bored teenagers and finally mature, wonderful adults. I don’t know where the time goes. I see their wonderful guys…Matt and Blake. Some years there were my cousin Pat and Ken and their kids Lindsay and Philip, and other years our friends Jane, Jamie and Jill joining us and adding to our precious memories.

My Aunt Vi

I carry on the tradition of the holidays preparing the food the same way my Mom did with her recipes and mine blended together. This year I will teach my daughter Kate how to make the meal, which I’m very excited about. I’ll be wishing Megan and Matt, who live in Florida, could be here with us. I’ll buy some egg nog and drink a toast to Aunt Vi and all the others, although I’ll make my gravy a little thinner. We’ll make turkey apples with an olive head and feathers of marshmellows, raisins and Cheerios. And after it’s done, we’ll cozy up together and watch “Christmas Vacation” to kick off the season.I thank God for the blessings of our family and friends – near and far – present and some now who have passed, and thank Him for the memories and traditions of a holiday that keeps love alive and everyone close in our hearts.

Wishing you and yours a very blessed, Happy Thanksgiving.