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My 6 Favorite Holiday Movie Moms

a christmas story

Moms in holiday movies often get overlooked. Little kids and men with Santa complexes (or actual Santas) tend to get the lion’s share of attention. But mothers can be the uncelebrated stars of our favorite movies. Here are six fictional moms that help give these holiday movies their classic appeal:

 

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  • Ellen Griswold in Christmas Vacation 1 of 6
    Ellen Griswold in Christmas Vacation
    No doubt about it, Ellen (played by Beverly D'Angelo) is the glue of the Griswold family, keeping her cool while Clark's mad schemes fall apart around him. This movie features some of the funniest slapstick moments of holiday film history, but I always appreciate how Ellen's sly sarcasm and loving support of her well-meaning but somewhat inept spouse give the Vacation films just a touch more optimism and heart.
  • Doris Walker in Miracle on 34th Street 2 of 6
    Doris Walker in Miracle on 34th Street
    Doris doesn't mean to be a holiday buzzkill. Discouraging her young daughter Susan from believing in Santa Claus and other mystical beings is just her way of being protective. What makes her one of my favorite holiday movie moms is her willingness to examine her motives to see if she's really doing the right thing by her daughter.
  • Kate MacAllister in Home Alone 3 of 6
    Kate MacAllister in Home Alone
    We all want to believe it couldn't happen to us. And yet we sympathize with Kate (played by Catherine O'Hara), who realizes soon after taking off on a holiday flight for Paris that they have left their youngest child Kevin behind. Of course, she spends the rest of the movie desperately trying to get back to him, and the reunion scene is a sweet conclusion to a little boy's fantasy about taking care of himself (while missing his mom - which is the part we all love.)
  • Mary Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life 4 of 6
    Mary Bailey in It's A Wonderful Life
    When I was younger, I was most intrigued by early love story between Mary Hatch and George Bailey in this classic Christmas film. But as I've raised my own children and experienced the hard work of marriage, I see that the real love story comes after the marriage and the children. Played by Donna Reed, Mary Bailey is the kind of historic movie mom I look up to: she's smart. She's opinionated. She's loving. And she's got awesome hair.
  • Anna Smith in Meet Me in St. Louis 5 of 6
    Anna Smith in Meet Me in St. Louis
    It's not exactly a holiday movie, but hey - I think the famous scene where Judy Garland sings "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" makes it count. Throughout the movie, mother Anna Smith (played by Mary Astor) is the nurturing, supportive heart of the home, even as her husband frets about work and her four daughters live out the dramas of childhood and young romance.
  • Mrs. Parker from A Christmas Story 6 of 6
    Mrs. Parker from A Christmas Story
    When I was growing up, my mom always had a special softness for Ralphie's mom in the cult classic A Christmas Story. Now that I'm a mother, I can see why: Mrs. Parker is by far my favorite movie mother. Whether going to ridiculous lengths to get her youngest son to eat, slyly getting Ralphie off the hook for beating the lights out of a neighborhood bully, or wickedly doing away with the leg lamp glittering gaudily in the living-room window, Ralphie's mom is equal parts nurturing and no-nonsense. When I was a kid, I thought Ralphie was the star of the movie, but now I know it was really his mother.
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Who are your favorite moms from holiday movies?

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