Christmas Movies

Frosty the Snowman

Getting Into the Spirit of the Season

My favorite Christmas movies

by: Grayson Leverenz

Every year I am amazed that as soon as Thanksgiving is over, literally the day after, wreathes and trees replace the turkeys and the Christmas season begins. Americans love to celebrate, and while the holidays are filled with (often stressful) family gatherings, work events and increased spending, people can’t seem to get enough of it.

Many Americans watch holiday movies as a family to get into the spirit of the season. Some of these movies have been around almost as long as the television itself. Our parents watched them, and then shared them with us when we were young; now our generation is sharing them with our kids.

Here are my top recommendations to help you experience an American Christmas:

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation: I have never heard my mom laugh as hard as the first time we saw this movie. It always makes me smile when I think about how much she enjoys the misadventures of the Griswold family. Released in 1989, Christmas Vacation pokes fun at lots of things Americans associate with the holidays including: overdone outdoor decorations, obnoxious family members and stingy bosses.

A Charlie Brown Christmas: I kind of have a love/hate relationship with all the Charlie Brown cartoon specials, but I never miss one. Based on the Peanuts comic strip, A Charlie Brown Christmas debuted in 1965. The story centers around the town Christmas pageant as the children experience the contrast between the commercialism of Christmas and the true meaning of the season.  I love the special because the Peanut gang was a part of my childhood; I read the comic strip every Sunday, and looked forward to the specials every holiday season. I hate it because the gang is SO MEAN to Charlie Brown, and I always feel sorry for him. In the end, the love wins out and I watch it every year, and this one actually ends on a nice note.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer: Another classic, Rudolph hit the airwaves in 1964 as stop motion animation. The cartoon is based on the popular children’s song, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and tells the story of a young reindeer that is different from all of his peers. This story also tugs at the heartstrings because the other reindeer “laugh and call him names.” But, Rudolph’s difference makes him uniquely qualified to serve Santa Claus one foggy Christmas Eve, and he becomes the hero of the story!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas: The 1960s saw another hit with this one; How the Grinch Stole Christmas premiered in 1966. Based on the Dr. Seuss children’s book, this Christmas special tells the story of a grumpy old Grinch determined to steal the joy of Christmas from his neighbors down in Whoville. Filled with catchy songs, quirky characters and a beautiful message, this is definitely one of my favorites. It is also the reason Brandon and I call roast beef “roast beast” to this day.

Frosty the Snowman: Wow – 4 out of 6 from the 1960s! Frosty the Snowman first aired in 1969, and was my favorite Christmas special up until A Christmas Story came to the big screen. Frosty the Snowman comes to life one winter’s day when the town’s children place a magic hat on his head. Worried about the rising temperatures, a young girl named Karen sets off to take Frosty to the coldest place she knows, the North Pole. Greeting card style animation and the title song make this Christmas cartoon super special.

A Christmas Story: My mom took us to see this one in the theater when it was released in 1983. A full-length feature film, A Christmas Story appeals more to older kids (5 and up I’d guess), as well as adults that are kids at heart. Nine year old Ralphie is the hero of the story. He fights bullies, fights for attention and fights for his right to own a Red Ryder BB gun. You can’t help but cheer him on. A Christmas Story developed a bit of a cult following in the 1990s when the TNT network starting airing it for 24 hours straight every year.

Ooh, a warning for protective parents. At one point, Ralphie almost uses a curse word; there’s a long drawn out, “FUUUUUUUU…dge.” I was Ralphie’s age at the time, and just learning how to cuss when my parents weren’t listening. Sitting next to my mom in the theater, horrified that Ralphie was going to let something slip, wanting to shout “no, Ralphie, no” is a feeling I will never forget.

These movies will all air on television throughout the holiday season. You can also find them at your local video store, or on Netflix. Some of them are even on YouTube.com.

I hope they bring joy into your holiday season, and help you learn a little more about US Culture!

Author: Grayson Leverenz

Grayson Leverenz founded MBA in the USA® to help international students build networks, find jobs, and have fun in the USA. Hundreds of global professionals have benefited from Grayson’s intercultural workshops, and she has worked with people from Brazil, China, India, South Africa, South Korea, the UK, and the USA to build effective virtual teams and craft brilliant careers.

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