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Must-see movies for holiday cheer

Published 8:07pm Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas music is dominating the radio. Most people’s stockings are hung by the chimney with care (unless you’re like me and will be putting things up in the next couple of days).

The shops around town are bustling with people looking for the perfect gifts for friends and family.

Bell ringers stand in front of grocery stores gathering cash donations for the Salvation Army.

And we may not see a single snowflake, but it’s been pretty cold in my book.

All of the above evidence to the contrary, it really won’t be Christmas until you settle onto the couch with a cup of hot cocoa and watch one (or two. Or all three!) of the movies below.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

The cartoon version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a family classic. Based on the Dr. Seuss children’s book of the same name, The Grinch plots to steal the presents, food and decorations from the people of Whoville and thus prevent Christmas from happening.

As all of us who have seen it know, however, Christmas comes anyway, and the Grinch thinks of “something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

This is a heartwarming tale that reminds all of us of the true meaning of Christmas and the generosity of spirit we should keep year-round.

Plus, who doesn’t love the movie’s famous Thurl Ravenscroft song “You’re a Mean one, Mr. Grinch”?

Elf (2003)

Elf is one of the best “new” Christmas comedies in recent years. Will Ferrell stars as Buddy the Elf, a human raised as an elf at the North Pole after crawling into Santa’s sack full of gifts as a baby.

As Buddy grows, it becomes obvious he isn’t like the other elves – he’s much larger and not as good at making toys. When he finally discovers he’s a human, he decides to take the exciting trip to New York City to find his father.

Of course, hijinks ensue as soon as he finds his father, played by James Caan. Buddy’s overwhelming enthusiasm is a bit much for the New Yorkers to handle, but in the end (without giving away too much of the plot) everyone overcomes their fears, helps Santa finish his Christmas deliveries and has a renewed Christmas spirit.

You may even find yourself with so much Christmas spirit that you start answering the phone by saying, “Buddy the Elf, what’s your favorite color?”

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

This popular stop-motion animation film is the longest running Christmas TV special in history, as it has been aired on television since its first airing in early December 1964.

This film is great because of its multiple layers.

Rudolph, of course, is born with a red, glowing nose, which his parents try to hide by covering it with dirt.

As Rudolph grows older, he eventually tries to participate in the Reindeer Games, where his nose pops off.

The other reindeer begin to make fun of him, and Rudolph begins feeling like an outsider.

Meanwhile, Hermey, an elf who does not like his designated job (“Hermey doesn’t like to make toys!” the other elves whisper to each other in horror), dreams of being a dentist one day.

Hermey and Rudolph decide to run away and stumble upon a huge cast of lovable characters, including Yukon Cornelius and an island of Misfit Toys.

Again, I won’t give away the ending (though most of you know it), but Rudolph ends up saving the day and becoming a hero.

More important than his hero status is that he is then celebrated for his differences. This is a great lesson to all children – and a great reminder for adults – that we all have our place in this world and that it’s never OK to make fun of someone for being different.

I invite all of you to write letters to the editor or comment on our website and share some of your own favorite Christmas films – those that are an absolute must-watch for you during the Christmas season.

Whatever your traditions may be – as the narrator states in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, “Christmas Day will always be just as long as we have we.”

Spears is general manager for The Outlook.