There are dozens of Christmas stories out there. From Elf to Frosty to Rudolph to those tacky Christmas specials on the Hallmark channel, there are loads of options if you feel like popping some popcorn and curling up on your couch to an evening of holiday fare. Growing up, we had a handful of Christmas movies we visited every year. Many of these were all recorded on one VHS tape that my parents put together one year at Christmas when I was very little, and they got watched over and over again. The others are big screen classics. They were:
- Frosty the Snowman
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas
- Timmy’s Gift/Timmy’s Special Delivery
- Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too
- A Garfield Christmas Special
- The Santa Clause
- Jingle All the Way
- It’s a Wonderful Life
- White Christmas
- A Christmas Carol (1951)
- Elf (a new addition….)
Some films and shorts (mostly the childish cartoons, excepting Rudolph, obviously) I no longer watch, and other ones I appreciate more now that I am grown. These stories have always been a part of my holiday tradition, but none more firmly than Dickens’ timeless classic. In its many forms, A Christmas Carol still permeates Christmas culture today. It was the only solid tradition we had growing up. On Christmas Eve, my father would lather us with snacks and sugary drinks, turn off all the lights, and we’d watch his favorite version of the story.
Ebenezer Scrooge is a man of incredible fortune. He has fought his way from poverty as a simple clerk in an accounting office to the owner of it. He has abandoned his friends, his family, and his young fiance all in pursuit of affluence and now, on Christmas Eve, he famously visited by three ghosts. He is anything but happy in his life, and he spreads his misery like a plague. Then, in the course of a single night, he is shown his many failings and is inspired to turn his life around. To quote the book itself:
“He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man as the good old city ever knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough in the good old world.”
Whether you appreciate the moral revelation, or believe (as my father does) that Dickens’ story is the tale of a sinful man’s religious resurrection… the story resonates. It tells us of the hardest of souls, and inspires us to believe that even the cruelest of men can be changed and softened. That there is hope for everyone. That the spirit of Christmas may live in everyone’s heart is a beautiful thought. I’m a sucker for any message of hope.
I try not to be too Scrooge-esque at Christmas time. I try to be generous, kind, and loving. I try to curb my own anger and not crush those around me, no matter how foul I feel. It’s very easy as an adult in this dog-eat-dog world to want to shout “Bah humbug!” from the tallest of mountains. But I try not to. Because with a smile and an open mind, it’s very easy to let the childish joy of the season revive you.
Which Christmas story resonates with y’all?