Monday, December 10, 2007

Jill's Holiday Special (Reprise)

Well, gang, I'm cutting corners today - just re-posting my 2006 Holiday Specials blog. Not much has changed since I made my list last year - Elf is still my favourite, and the only new one I'd like to add is Fred Claus, which I saw a few weeks ago. Only problem is, I can't think of any to boot off the list, so I guess that means I now have 16 favourites!!

It's that time of the year again, when the TV schedule is full of Christmas shows and movies - and I tried to sit down and come up with a "Top Ten", but I just couldn't. I love too many of them. I have managed to narrow it down to fifteen of my all-time favourites, so if you get an opportunity to catch any of them, you should. Chances are, many of them are already favourites of yours, too.

So grab a cup of hot chocolate, a bowl of buttery popcorn, your coziest blanket, and curl up on the couch to enjoy some holiday magic!!

15. The Polar Express - This computer-animated movie is a recent addition to my holiday line-up of favourites. Tom Hanks is the voice of the conductor of a train taking children to the North Pole, and they run into many crazy adventures and obstacles along the way. I guarantee you, the sound of bells jingling will forever give you chills after watching this movie.

14. A Flintstone Family Christmas - Who doesn't love the Flintstones? It was a noon-hour tradition when I was a kid. In the Christmas special, Bam Bam & Pebbles are all grown up and married with kids of their own, and they return home to celebrate the season with Fred, Wilma, Barney & Betty. I always knew those two crazy stone-age kids were meant for each other!!

13. The Family Stone - I'm not sure this movie was meant to be considered a "Holiday Classic", but because it is set at Christmastime, I'm including it in my list. Starring such big names as Diane Keaton, Dermot Mulroney, Luke Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Claire Danes, and Sarah Jessica Parker, it is the story of a family reunited at Christmas, only to learn that their family is about to change drastically, in more ways than one. Just try not to cry in the last scene. I dare you.

12. American Dreams: JJ's Return - OK, so this is just an episode of a cancelled TV show and it probably shouldn't even be counted, but I've watched it every Christmas for the past three years. It has become one of my holiday staples. The Prior family is dreading the holiday season without their son and brother, JJ, who is missing in the midst of the Vietnam War. When they get the call on Christmas Eve to tell them JJ has been found and will be returning home safely, it just gives you the warm & fuzzies. Plus, JJ's dad gets him the '66 Mustang for Christmas - now that's what every hero deserves!

11. A Garfield Christmas - There's something about the Garfield Christmas special that reminds me of my own family. No, we don't have any crazy pets like Garfield and Odie, but the excitement of Jon and his brother on Christmas morning reflects that of the youthful exuberance with which my siblings and I still greet Christmas morning. Plus, Garfield's gift to Grandma is a touching moment that few cartoons could ever accomplish.

10. Eight Crazy Nights - Adam Sandler's animated movie in the spirit of Hanukkah tells the story of a misguided, troubled young man who is headed down the wrong path until he is taken under the wing of one of the local characters, Whitey, who has dedicated his life to volunteering and helping the children of his hometown. It's got Broadway-style songs, big laughs, and some tear-jerking moments that only Adam Sandler could combine into one festive package.

9. A Charlie Brown Christmas - It's not Christmas without Charlie Brown! It's one of those old cartoons that is on every year, but you just can't miss it. All of the Peanuts gang is preparing for the class Christmas pageant in which they are recreating the Nativity story. And then there's that tree. The Charlie Brown Tree. You know what I mean. Everyone's either got one or at least seen one. It's not Christmas without a Charlie Brown Tree!

8. Santa Claus is Coming to Town - The story of Santa Claus in claymation, and narrated by Fred Astaire - who could ask for more? It tracks the origins of Kris Kringle from the time he was an orphan adopted by a family of elves, and how he grew up to bring cheer into the lives of children under the oppressive reign of the Burger Meister, who had banned toys from the town. I never miss it!

7. Mickey's Christmas Carol - It's Disney's take on Charles Dickens' classic story of the miserly Ebeneezer Scrooge, who is visited by the spirits of Christmas Past, Present, & Future. Mickey stars as Bob Cratchit, with Donald Duck playing the young Ebeneezer, and Goofy as Jacob Marley, and many other Disney characters also appear. It's the only version of A Christmas Carol I've ever been able to sit through. Little Tiny Tim always chokes me up.

6. The Santa Clause - Tim Allen stars as a deadbeat dad who accidentally steps into the Big Guy's shoes and learns how to juggle his new duties with being a good father. It has spawned two sequels, and all three movies are worth a look. You can catch the latest installment, The Escape Clause, in theatres now.

5. Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas - I'm talking about the original cartoon, not the crappy remake with Jim Carrey. That old Grinch, with a heart that is two sizes too small, disguises himself as Santa Claus and descends upon the Whos down in Whoville with plans to make Christmas disappear. And he almost succeeds, too. But even the Grinch can't hide from the holiday cheer as he realizes Christmas is not just about gifts, food, and Santa Claus - it's about being with the people you love. Just watch that Grinch's heart grow!!

4. Miracle on 34th Street - Christmas just isn't Christmas without watching the original black and white version. Susan is a little girl whose mother does not believe in filling her daughter's head with such silly notions as Santa Claus. So when jolly ol' St. Nick himself befriends Susan, she struggles to convince her mother that Santa really does exist. Doesn't matter how old you are - after watching this movie, you will believe.

3. Frosty the Snowman - It's the classic cartoon that my friends still tease me about. At a sleepover when we were kids, I threw a fit because no one would let me watch it. I argued with everyone that it was tradition - that I had to watch it! To this day, one of them will inevitably joke about the night I made them all watch Frosty. And to this day, I still never miss it.

2. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer - There's an elf that wants to be a dentist. There's an Island of Lost Toys. There's the Winter Worlock. And there's an outcast reindeer with a glowing red nose. Everyone loves this Christmas special! Rudolph is one of the greatest heroes ever - he saves Christmas by guiding Santa's sleigh through the fog with his bright red schnozz. Who cares about Dasher and Prancer and Comet and Blitzen? Rudolph's the only one with his own theme song!

1. Elf - That's right, folks. Buddy the Elf won my heart a few years ago and climbed to the top of my list of Holiday Favourites. Will Ferrell stars as the bubbly, sugary-sweet Buddy who leaves the North Pole to find his real father in New York City, and along the way he finds a lot of people who need some serious convincing when it comes to the idea of Santa. It's absolutely hilarious, and it will warm the cockles of your hearts as Buddy connects with his new family and teaches an entire city to believe.

So there you have it - my Holiday Special Blog, all wrapped up for you to enjoy! Feel free to mention your Christmas favourites in the comments section and let me know if I missed any! If I wasn't in the Christmas spirit before I started this Blog, just thinking about all those great shows and movies has done the trick now!

Ho! Ho! Ho!

So far in 2007 the only ones I've been able to catch are the Seuss version of the Grinch, Garfield, Frosty, & Santa Claus is Coming to Town - but during the next few weeks, when I'm looking for some holiday spirit, I can guarantee I'll be watching the rest!! Happy Holidays, everyone!! :)

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