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What's your favorite holiday movie?
Thursday, December 12, 2013 10:00 AM
When it comes to his favorite holiday-themed movies, Ball State film professor Wes Gehring says each is a feel-good, populist film successful in pulling at the heart strings by creating an illusion that Christmas can be perfect.
We want to know what your favorite Christmas movie is. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include a few lines on why you like your selection.
To get you started, here are Ghering's top 10 Christmas-themed movies:
1. "It's a Wonderful Life"
2. "The Bishop's Wife"
3. "Miracle on 34th Street"
4. "A Christmas Story"
6. "The Shop Around the Corner"
7. "Love Actually"
8. "Christmas Vacation"
9. "Holiday Inn"
"These are all sentimental, a trait that works better at Christmas for a mass audience that might be more cynical the rest of the year," says Gehring, who is the author of 33 books focusing on the movie industry and its stars. "But personally, I like them year-round.
"In some cases, such as 'It's a Wonderful Life' and 'A Christmas Story,' around-the-clock television and cable broadcasts have added to their iconic status, but they were already well-crafted pictures to start with.
"The dark tone of 'Wonderful Life' with a key character contemplating suicide surprised viewers when it was released. It did decent business and received attention at Oscar time, but it wasn't considered a classic until the world caught up with its modern slant and public domain status allowed it to be shown so much."
Gehring believes the worst holiday movies include the entire "Silent Night, Deadly Night" series. The original and its sequels center on an ax-murderer dressed as Santa, but final installment features killer toys.
While this movie wasn't a Hollywood production it is a movie that plays out in my mind with each Christmas just like "It's a Wonderful Life."
And I'm sure other families have their own tailored version of similar stories.
My movies is titled: "A Woman for All Seasons"
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!
A Woman for All Seasons
I grew up in Madison's East end on Park Avenue. Our neighborhood was mature with a lopsided mix of retired households to just a few homes with school-age children.
There's nothing wrong with a neighborhood that is skewed toward the Grandmas and Grandpas unless you're a kid and surrounded by no other kids.
My Grandparents lived next door and it was great having them so close but back then kids were more important to me.
The West end kids and especially the Walnut Street kids had it a lot better than us East Enders but we still managed to get enough kids together to play softball under the bridge.
One Christmas season many years ago as I was making my way through Eggleston Elementary School I noticed this remarkable woman in my neighborhood. She seemed to be always busy taking covered dishes to various homes in the neighborhood. She was providing her own version of Meals-on-Wheels long before it was fashionable or even invented.
Sometimes the covered pots and dishes were steaming and in the cold, winter air she reminded me of a steam locomotive with smoke trailing after her every where she went.
Sometimes her husband helped her carry things and sometimes she had a little red Radio Flyer wagon carting the stuff around. In the winter she usually had a scarf around her head and she often stayed and visited with her friends after she dropped off the covered dishes. She was just so busy she was fun to watch.
I asked my Aunt about this remarkable woman and my Aunt explained that the lady had grown-up in the neighborhood and she was visiting the parents of her childhood friends.
When she was a child every household in the neighborhood had kids. Many of her childhood friends had grown-up, gotten married and moved away to places like Cincinnati, Louisville or Indianapolis and now their parents were home alone.
I noticed, too,that when people were sick she might stop in several times a day to make sure they had everything they needed and to be sure they were taking their medications. I knew even then that what she doing was a very kind thing to do but still, it sure kept her awfully busy. I couldn't imagine where she found the time and energy for all the hard work. But then I don't think she saw it as work either.
Of course, these days one would have to pay dearly for that kind of service and still one might end up with a helper that wasn't much help.
My Aunt told me that this remarkable woman absolutely wouldn't dream of taking a nickle in payment for her services. In fact the lady often purchased things from my Aunt's Grocery Store to help out people that might be running short or perhaps just to carry them past a rough spot when their monthly check was late. Many of these people were blue collar retirees with little to live on but savings and Social Security.
My Aunt said the lady was quite resourceful herself and often helped out in my Aunt's grocery store to earn a little extra money.
My Aunt chuckled and said, "A lot of good the extra money does her she just spends the money on Christmas presents for her grandchildren and boy, does she have a lot of them. She's like the old woman that lives in a shoe. The difference is she might have a lot of grand kids but she definitely knows what to do she Christmas shops all year long! She starts Christmas shopping so early that it is all done by summertime."
I watched this busy lady perform her acts of kindness for years until one day I noticed that she had joined the ranks of the gray haired in the neighborhood. Even though I hadn't noticed it, when I looked in the mirror, it turned out that I was getting older, too.
And then, just like the other kids in the neighborhood, I got married and moved away too.
Many years later I was in Madison in early December of 1985 just after this memorable woman had passed on to her final reward. I was visiting with my sister and she told me my brother was cleaning out the lady's house and getting it ready to be put on the market.
Later that day I was driving through the old neighborhood when I saw the porch light on at her house and my brother walking toward his car in the driveway. I turned my car around and pulled up next to the driver's window to say hello.
He rolled down the window to chat. I asked him if I could help and he said no that he was done for the day. He then reached into the backseat and handed me a wrapped Christmas present and said,
"I know it's a little early for Christmas but this one has your name on it. In case I don't see you, have a merry Christmas"!!!
I accepted the present and wished him a Happy New year. As he drove away I looked down at the label on the present. Sure enough there was my name alright and I recognized the handwriting.
As I sat there looking at the present and thinking about past Christmases a tear rolled down my cheek.
Funny, I don't remember what the wrapped present contained but it is still my most unforgettable gift.
That Christmas gift taught me to,
"Always go home for Christmas even it's only in your dreams!"
"Merry Christmas Mom"!!!!
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