Who doesn’t love a good Christmas movie this time of year? They bring such fun. Such joy. Such misery.
Sorry to get all Grinchy on you, but the holiday season can be a minefield of emotional triggers for anyone who is not a character in one of those “feel good” holiday flicks.
We’re not talking about the classics that have survived the times and tastes of our ever-changing world.
We all love “A Christmas Story” which was filmed in Cleveland back when Higbee’s still graced Public Square.
And it doesn’t get any better than George Bailey coming to his senses at the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
No matter which one you pick from the dozens of versions of “A Christmas Carol,” we take comfort in knowing Scrooge will transform himself into Mr. Wonderful by the time the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come has left the building.
How about Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold in “Christmas Vacation?” The ongoing mishaps visited upon the Griswold family as they prepare for the holidays never get old. Ditto that for the McCallister Family in “Home Alone.”
Our beef is with the formulaic schlock churned out year after year. It’s hard to click through the channels without coming across them.
Like the one where couples meet–cute while fluffy snowflakes fall and “I’ll be home for Christmas” is playing in the background. Or when that mysterious new neighbor turns out to be an angel sent from heaven to save a town that has forgotten how to believe.
Sound familiar? They should if you spend any time in front of a TV now through Jan. 1.
But there is a way to escape those feelings of harsh reality should your Christmas season lack a decent plot line. Just steer clear of the Hallmark and Lifetime movie channels.
True story. It was Lucifer who conjured the idea of feel-good TV and he designed it to bombard our emotional well-being with a 24/7 lineup of tear jerkers, stories of redemption and miracles that can never measure up to real life no matter how hard we suspend our disbelief.
The unholy attack leaves us, his victims, ready to make a deal in exchange for a life of happy endings and Christmas miracles. Tricky, that Lucifer.
We don’t need to be victims of this hell-born movies disguised as Christmas entertainment. Let’s take a look at a few movies in which the holidays are not the entire focus of the story.
For fantasy, check out “Gremlins,”1984. The story of how cute and cuddly Mowglis go from Christmas pets to a pack of creepy toothy critters who terrorize a small town.
Drama your thing? Try “Carole,” 2015. A lonely shop girl meets a lonely but wealthy Christmas shopper. The attraction between the two women is undeniable and necessarily secretive in this romance set in the 1950s.
More drama. “Home Before Dark,” 1958. Jeanne Simmons plays an emotionally fragile woman whose suspicions threaten her recently recovered sanity. She should have won an Oscar for her Christmas party meltdown scene.
Action? “Die Hard,” the 1988 edition set at Christmastime in Los Angeles at an office party in a glassy skyscraper under attack by terrorists. Bruce Willis to the rescue.
How about a love story? Try “The Godfather,” 1972. Diane Keaton as Kay in the Christmas shopping scene with Al Pacino as Michael, before he becomes the title character. The 1940s fashions are worth wading through the blood.
All of the above should be available on the various streaming services or save your money and borrow them from the library.
Next week: We will discuss tips for holiday decorating and how to disable the HGTV, DIY networks and any how-to Christmas specials featuring Joanna Gaines or Martha Stewart. You’re welcome.
Barbara Christian has covered Chagrin Falls since the Johnson administration. Lyndon not Andrew. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.