Frugal Family Fun: Christmas Movie Nights at Home

I was torn between listing this blog under FFF or Holiday Traditions because it is so cheap—I mean Frugal!—and yet it has been a tradition in our family for almost 20 years.  Every week we watch a favorite Christmas movie together.

We have gotten these movies as 99 cent rentals from the gas station (now we haveRedbox), borrowed from the library, or been loaned them by friends.  As the years went by, I slowly began to acquire our favorites from garage and book sales; as gifts; or as they were retired from movie rental stores.

The first movie of the holiday season is always Ernest Saves Christmas. We watch it as we decorate the family tree in the family room. (It is also one of the best Ernest movies.) A Christmas Story makes me want to cover my living room coffee table with tidbits filled with cookies and fudge, eat sweets, and stare at the Christmas tree. (My living room tree is decorated with 30s, 40s, and 50s decorations, glass bead garland, and bubble lights.) It inspires me to bake and make candy!

I have a basket devoted to the Christmas film and TV genre filled to overflowing with our collection:

Basket O' Christmas Movies

Some are old favorites: The Bishop’s Wife (with Cary Grant at his most handsome AND David Niven); Holiday Inn and its sequel White Christmas; Little Women (the 1949 and the 1994 versions); Miracle on 34th Street (with Maureen O’Hara and Natalie Wood); It’s a Wonderful Life; A Christmas Carol (with Alistair Sims); and Little Lord Fauntleroy (with Freddie Bartholomew) a story that includes Christmas—OK, I’ll admit that I watch it mostly because I just love Freddie.

Others are children’s classics that I grew up with: Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman I and II, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. These were shows that were shown on television once a year when I was a kid and I never missed them. I watched for commercials advertising their coming and made sure I had dibs on the TV (most households only had one on our block) set for the time they would be on. We all knew we had only one chance a year to watch them, and it was serious holiday business, indeed! My boys came along during the era of VHS. Their favorites are also in the basket and include The Muppet Christmas Carol, and Muppet Family Christmas.

Some of the best my best Christmas memories are attached to Chicagoland children’s shows that only broadcasted certain shorts during the holiday season:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaUBpsn4QjQ&feature=related Here Comes Suzie Snowflake

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDM6Bbt9WDY&NR=1 Hardrock and Coco and Joe

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TU3SKtJbNu8&feature=related Frosty the Snowman

(I don’t have these in my collection yet, but I’m working on it—for now they can be viewed on Youtube!)

Others were TV episodes I have recorded or on VHS: Little House on the Prairie: The Christmas They Never Forgot, Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends: Thomas’ Christmas Party and Other Favorite Stories, The Twilight Zone: Night of the Meek, Red Green Christmas Specials, and Burt Wolf’s Christmas at the Biltmore.

We do have a few newer movies in the collection (and it continues to grow) like The Polar Express and Family Man, which is a favorite of my husband’s (sort of a combined remake of It’s a Wonderful Life and Groundhog Day with less humor and a harder edge.) I’d like to add the most recent A Christmas Carol to our collection soon. (It is the most like the book, thanks to modern animation, if you overlook the crazy, way-too-long Disneyesque hearse chase, which I will click through when I watch it). Take Peace: A Corgi Cottage Christmas with Tasha Tudor is my favorite recently produced Christmas classic. (I am slowly collecting all of Tasha’s Christmas books as well. She illustrated The Night Before Christmas at least four times—they are delightful, and I love her cats and owls.)

No Christmas season would be complete without at least one viewing of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians! I found my copy in a giant cardboard discount bin at a big box computer store some years ago. I love how they spray painted and glued together scuba gear and old football helmets (worn backward) to create the Martians’ headgear.  The DVD also features a collection of really dreadful shorts that I skip over to watch the1950s and 1960s toy commercials interspersed throughout the disc.

If you don’t already have this holiday tradition at your house, make some popcorn, dim the lights, and watch a favorite Christmas movie together tonight and start a new family tradition. Begonia

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