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We are not a church-going family, so our taste in Christmas movies skews a little secular. Actually, Christmas movies skew secular, don’t they, Hollywood? Unless you veer pretty far out of the mainstream. Like, to movies that are just about Jesus and have no holiday romanticism about them whatsoever. I have a brother who is wonderful and a devout Catholic, and one Christmas he sent me a copy of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. THAT movies puts the Christ back in Christmas, my friends. Bing Cosby would have coughed up a golf ball watching that. I was tempted to send my brother The Life of Brian in his Easter basket, but that just seemed immature on my part. I’m trying to be a better person. It may not be working. Also, I have a lot of cold medicine in my head right now so I may wander off track. Thank you for your patience and understanding. Have a candy cane.
Inevitably, though, I give and get DVDs for Christmas. Lucky for me, for the last five years there’s been a new season of 30 Rock to ask for, God bless us all, Tina Fey. But what to give? Oh, there’s something for everyone on Santa’s list.
FOR THE NAUGHTY: Usually the first holiday movie my husband wants to watch in December is Bad Santa. My son, who is ten, is not allowed to see this film because it is rated R. Roger Ebert called it “gleefully offensive” and It is inappropriate in so many ways that I don’t know where to begin. This one doesn’t come out until Christmas Eve after the boy goes to bed. It’s a good gift for child-free people with a dark sense of humor; you could probably develop a lethal drinking game based on Billy Bob Thornton’s frequent moral outrages.
Slightly less dark:
- A Christmas Carol (1951) — There are at least eight different versions of the Charles Dickens story, but this one is definitely the creepiest
- Scrooged (1988), starring Bill Murray as the least scary Ebeneezer Scrooge, a modern-day television executive who needs to be spooked into finding the meaning of Christmas
- The Ref (1994), starring Denis Leary as a thief who breaks into an angry couple’s house on Christmas Eve and ends up acting as their heavily-armed marriage counselor
- The Santa Clause 1, 2, and 3 — depending on your feelings about Tim Allen, this series is borderline Nice. I actually think #2 is the best one, because I am a giant Sap from Sapville
FOR THE NICE: I always want to watch Elf while I’m decorating the tree. I think this is a delightful tradition, but it usually results in me decorating the tree all by myself. My husband thinks Elf is dorky and my son finds it achingly embarrassing. At some point the shame center of his brain took over and he couldn’t bear to see people humiliate themselves with sincerity the way Buddy the Elf does. I don’t know what’s wrong with my family. Bob Newhart as the head elf! Ed Asner as Santa! Peter Dinklage as the brooding children’s author! Zooey Deschanel in the first of her many appearances as the whimsical love interest!
Also for the sentimental, there’s:
- Nobody ever wants to watch Rudolph with me, goddamnit
- Sometimes I can suck someone into the Grinch, but my son (who may not be my son, DNA TESTS ARE PENDING) prefers the Jim Carrey version over the far more genius-filled animated Boris Karloff version
- The Charlie Brown music is like an electromagnet, though, and I guess we have a winner for the least secular Christmas special, thanks to Linus’s sensitive readings from the New Testament
- White Christmas — Oh my God, Bing Crosby, you make me nostalgic for a Christmas that never really existed except in some Burbank back lot
What DVDs would you give to someone in need of a little Christmas cheer?
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GIVEAWAY RULES (read them, as you have more than one chance to enter the giveaway)
The giveaway will run until Friday, December 16, 2011, 11:59 p.m. EDT and is open to all U.S. residents. A winner will be chosen at random using Random.org from all eligible entries. Each reader has two chances to win by leaving a comment on this post (#3 in the series), and the final post (#4 in the series), which will go up Friday. Readers can also leave comments on the #3 and #4 posts by other Babble Voices writers participating in the Dell Family Tech campaign. Note: Not all Dell Family Tech post comments are eligible for this giveaway — only comments on the third and fourth posts in each author’s November/December 2011 Dell series.
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