31 Christmas Films

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In case you missed it, there’s a war on Christmas. But I must object to the premise that so many make.  Rather than Christmas being under fire due to a lack of sales clerks giving a proper “Merry Christmas!” or in the lack of nativity scenes in front of government buildings, I’d suggest that Christmas is losing its meaning due to rampant consumerism.

With Black Friday creep and indulgence being the reason for the season, I’d like to propose something real radical: Rather than being the evil machinations of the liberal media, I think Hollywood actually gets it.  Every year new Christmas films get made that appear to portray the real joy of this sacred season. If the movie industry–that bastion of all that is against Christianity–understands the true meaning of Christmas while Christians see nothing wrong with shopping on Thanksgiving Day and demanding their Walmart greeter say “Merry Christmas!” then we have a problem.

As a priest, the time leading up to Christmas Day–it’s really the season of Advent–is horrifically busy. So much so that I rarely watch Christmas movies. By the time the 12 Days of Christmas roll around (the 12 Days end January 5th), the Christmas movies have left  theaters about as quickly as holiday M&Ms have been replaced with Valentine’s Day fare. (Don’t believe me? Head to CVS on Dec 27th and the Valentine’s stuff will be out.)

But this year I’m going to do something different.  I’m going to watch 31 Christmas Films over the 36 days of Advent and Christmas (Advent begins Dec. 1 this year).  That’s 6 films a week (even God took a day off).  There are loads of films I haven’t seen, like “Miracle on 34th Street” (honest!) and “The Nativity Story.” I’ve never seen the 1951 classic “Scrooge” from beginning to end, nor the recent Disney animated version with Jim Carrey.  I will watch some movies I have seen, like “The Bishop’s Wife” and “A Christmas Story,” but the majority will be ones I haven’t viewed.

And I’ll be looking to see if the film depicts the real meaning of Christmas: that Jesus came to bring peace and goodwill to all.  It doesn’t have to explicitly mention the birth of Christ (“It’s a Wonderful Life” doesn’t), but it does have to show how Christmas isn’t about consumerism but about joy.  The more it does this, the more Stars of Bethlehem it’ll get, up to 5!

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Here are the rules I’ll live with:

  1. Only feature length films. No animated TV classics that run 30 or 50 minutes.
  2. No horror flicks.  I’m looking at you “Silent Night, Deadly Night.”
  3. I won’t watch more than 6 films that I have already seen before in their entirety.
  4. My wife, Melissa, gets to pick the January 5th movie since it’s her birthday.
  5. I’ve chosen 20 films, and the rest will come from you! Vote online now!
  6. They have to be about Christmas and not just happen on Christmas Eve or Day. No “Gremlins” for me!

So stay tuned for more on this exciting project and please vote! On Twitter #31xmasfilms.

UPDATE: The 31 Christmas Films I’ll be watching!