What is supposed to be one of the most joyous times of the year, is also somehow the most stressful time as well (and occasionally the most depressing).
I’m no stranger to spending a Christmas or two by myself – and frankly sometimes those have been the most festive ones. Holiday movies are a way of immersing myself with the spirit of the season.
So, in the spirit of undeniable joy – I’d like to share a few of the movies that shaped me (yes- Christmas movies can have more of an influence on a person than you may know….just read to find out).
A Diva’s Christmas Carol
This movie aired on VH1 on December 13, 2000 – I was a ripe 10 years of age and instantly smitten by everything that is Vanessa Williams. Anytime and everytime that movie was scheduled to play on TV, I needed to be in front of the television. The inner gay-by in me was floored by the elegance and fierceness of Ms. Williams. Overall though, it was definitely the soundtrack that kept me coming back each time. As I type this I can hear “Heartquake” play over and over in my head. You want to talk about a campy Christmas movie? This is it.
It’s a Wonderful Life
Hands down my all time favorite and an absolute classic. I remember the first time I saw this in high school at a friend’s house and how resistant I was because it was in black & white (teenagers, amirite?). By the end however, George Bailey had won me over and I was doing my best “Merry Christmas Bedford Falls” and “Clarence!” impressions until it annoyed my sisters to no end. This movie has a message that is one I think a lot of us need to be reminded of – appreciating the life we are living without regretting the journey.
Top three songs: “Believe,” “Hot Chocolate,” and “When Christmas Comes to Town.” The movie didn’t come out until I was a teen, but it was my best friend’s absolute favorite and he listened to the music all of the time. It was kind of hard to escape and in the end became one of my favorites. For me, the movie has the feeling of what Christmas represents – that yearning to still want to hold on to the magic of the holiday.
The Santa Clause (2 to be specific)
You’re probably thinking, “wait…why the sequel? Why not the original?” There’s a reason The Santa Clause 2 is special to me, because of the impact it had on me accepting my Queer identity. Flashback to December 2011: Drunk off tequila at my ex-boyfriend’s house off-campus and all I wanted to watch was this movie *I had seen the movie before, but I was suddenly obsessed with watching it whenever I’d hang out with him* There was a moment in the movie when Elizabeth Mitchell plops down on her couch (in the cutest possible way) right before Tim Allen is about to explain to her he is Santa Claus.
I suddenly realized something about myself in that moment that I felt like I had been suppressing for over two decades of my life – because I thought I only could have one choice. On the screen, I realized I loved this movie because I have a crush on this actress and maybe it was the tequila – but does this mean I’m gay? It was a lot to process: I was drunk, I was at my ex boyfriend’s house, and I was having this inner monologue. So what do I do? I went outside after it had just snowed, sat on his front step and looked above my head to a porch decorated in Christmas lights, and I just cried. Then, I called my best friend (all while still sitting on this front porch). I remember him answering and me saying, “Joey, I think I’m gay” and his only response was, “WHAT! My two best friends are having life changing moments tonight. How is this happening, what is my life. Wait where are you?” Then I of course told him where I was and I’m sure he said “Omg Traci!” Our conversation lasted a bit longer, and then I remember trying to gather myself before going back upstairs to finish the movie (I’m pretty sure I wandered back to my place after that). This movie was my segway into accepting myself, yes – but I’m not guaranteeing it’ll do the same for you….it’s just a funny story about a cheesy Christmas movie that in a significant way, changed my life.
The best part of this movie is Martha May Whovier and her iconic line “Betty! Hiiiii!” (yes the role is played by Christine Baranski.) However, the reason I really love this movie is because of my fabulous friend Jeremy. I’m not sure why or how the tradition started, but every Christmas Eve he will send me the scene of Martha May and it is a highlight of my holiday season every single year. This movie for me is about friendships and traditions…and it’s not even necessarily about the movie. Also, sidenote: The Grinch is clearly a Gay icon that has a bad wrap.
Recipe for a Perfect Christmas
This is actually a Lifetime movie, but I of course own it on DVD. A heartfelt Christmas movie that has quite a few familiar faces (Christine Baranski…is anyone sensing a trend here?). I got pulled in because of Baranski, but I stayed for the food critic trying to rise to the top by also saving the chef who doesn’t want his restaurant to close all while repairing a mother/daughter relationship throughout. Take it or leave it – highly recommended for the Lifetime movie lovers in your life.
Okay, so I actually watch this movie all year around and here is why: it gives me that comforting feeling that only certain movies can bring. The family dynamics are believable because they feel real – not “Hallmark” like. There are also so many big names in this movie it is hard not to adore. A mixture of humor, drama, and feel-goodness – if you haven’t seen this movie yet, add it to your list for today or tomorrow.
The Family Stone
Another holiday movie that I could watch at any time of the year when I need a sense of comfort. I think there’s something about how real the family dynamic feels, or the comical bits of SJP being the butt of every joke as the uptight girlfriend. Any movie with Diane Keaton tends to win me over, but regardless this is a must watch for me every holiday season. Watch it, but I warn in the end it ends up being a tear inducing one.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
The Preacher’s Wife
Home Alone 1 and 2
A Bad Mom’s Christmas (because, Baranski)
All of the Claymations
What are some movies you’ll be watching? Do you have holiday favorites that weren’t on the list (and please don’t say A Christmas Story…)? Share below in the comments!