10 can’t-miss Christmas programs

By Kate MacDonald

Courtesy RankinBass Productions Videocraft International
The month of December is definitely known to be a month full of holiday specials that people of all ages can enjoy. From youngsters bouncing off the walls in anticipation for Santa’s arrival, to the mature, college-age set, to grandma knitting her winter scarf, everyone can appreciate a good holiday show or movie.

Certainly, there are the great, if extremely cheesy, hidden gems that almost no one has heard of – “Three Days” and “Santa Baby,” for instance. Everyone has their favorite special to put on while they sit by the decorated tree.

Here, in no particular order, are the movies or specials that those with the holiday spirit must watch every Christmas season:

The Year Without a Santa Claus
“The Year Without a Santa Claus” proves that remakes (a live actor version in 2006) and sequels (last year’s mediocre “A Miser Brother’s Christmas”) don’t compare to the 1974 original. Full of different plots including a sick Santa and the feuding Miser brothers (Heat and Snow), it’s a hit for everyone.

Home Alone and Home Alone 2
No Christmas movie list would be complete without at least one of the “Home Alone” movies. While the first was clearly the best, the second was close behind, and the third and fourth fell a little flat. Kevin McAllister finds himself inadvertently abandoned by his family at the holidays and must play hilarious pranks on two evildoers to protect himself and his friends.

A Christmas Story
One of the quintessential holiday classics, viewers can watch it for 24 hours on TBS on Christmas Day. It’s all about Ralphie, a boy who just wants a BB gun for Christmas, but no one trusts him with one. He goes on a quest to survive bullies and brothers until he can arm himself, if Santa comes through.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
While Jim Carrey’s 2000 version was full of witticisms, nothing can beat the original 1966 animated TV special. Meaner in this version, the Grinch sets out to ruin the holiday of the Christmas-obsessed people of Whoville with his dog Max. The songs and the old timey colors add to the charm.

Who can honestly say they don’t crack up when the grown up Buddy the Elf screams “Santa!” at the top of his lungs, then proclaims that the imposter sits, “on a throne of lies?” Will Ferrell delights as the overgrown elf who just wants to find his dad. In the words of Mr. Norwal, “Hope you find your dad, Buddy.”

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Written by legendary filmmaker John Hughes, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” features some of the funniest scenes in any holiday film. All sorts of blunders and hijinx occur when the Griswold family Christmas stretches to include all sorts of quirky family members, including the illustrious cousins Eddie and Catherine.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys
It’s a little offbeat and quirky, but what do you expect when the oddball reindeer and his friend Hermey the Elf travel to an island inhabited by toys that have defects? When they’re being kidnapped by the Evil Toymaker, the two must band together with the toys to save each other. Extremely predictable, but that’s not really a hindrance to sweet holiday movies.

A Charlie Brown Christmas
Everyone knows about the troubles of Charlie Brown: an annoying little sister, Lucy, a friend who’s not very nice to him, and the world’s most monotone teacher. These problems certainly don’t cease from Charlie, who has to deal with them while working on a Nativity play.

Miracle on 34th Street
The 1947 version of this movie is best, and features classic stars like Natalie Wood, Maureen O’Hara and John Payne. When Macy’s gets a new Santa, things start occurring to make the populace believe he might be the real deal. But some don’t believe, and attempt to commit him to a mental hospital. When put on trial, will the real Santa be revealed? Truly a classic for both young and old.

It’s a Wonderful Life
Again, another timeless film that hails from a different era of Hollywood, “It’s a Wonderful Life” features the selfless George Bailey, who must, with the help of an angel, decide during the holiday season if his loved ones would be better off had he never lived.

Honorable mentions go to: “The Santa Clause,” “A Christmas Carol,” “Frosty’s Winter Wonderland” and “The Polar Express.”

However, there is one noticeable absence that viewers of ABC Family’s annual countdown to Christmas may discern. While the above are movies that are unarguably classics, oftentimes, there are a few intruders of holiday specials.

A tip for ABC Family: As great as the Harry Potter movies might be, the three-minute Christmas scenes in each film do not make them applicable for the “25 Days of Christmas” countdown.

Luckily, channels including ABC Family, TBS and TNT participate in showing the majority of these true holiday classics during the month of December, so keep your eyes peeled for your favorites.

Kate MacDonald can be reached at [email protected]

Editor’s note: The editors of the Arts & Living section here at The Collegian would like to add an honorable mention to this list, “A Muppet Christmas Carol.” While we also agree, for the most part, with the preceding list, we felt that we would be directly insulting our childhoods by not mentioning this classic Christmas tale.