Do you ever find that at certain times of year, you feel the need to read or watch certain things? There’s the obvious, of course – snowy books in the winter, warm weather books in the summer. But sometimes it’s not as logical – sometimes our minds form some stranger associations. For instance, I have somehow gotten into the habit of re-reading Jane Austen in early summer. It’s reached the point where as soon as the weather starts getting warmer, I become Austen-obsessed. And because every Lord of the Rings movie came out in December, I always feel the need to watch the whole trilogy in December (preferably accompanied by some hot tea or a hobbit-style feast.) Perhaps due to the short days and long darknesses, or perhaps due to extra holiday free time, December is always a busy month for me in terms of things I simply must watch. Some of it is holiday related, some of it decidedly not, but these are a few of the things that have been swimming around in my head since Thanksgiving.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Not the Jim Carrey live action version (though I actually enjoy that movie as well,) but the old-school, Boris Karloff-narrated animated Grinch. With a running time of only 26 minutes, it’s easy to watch this many times over the holiday season (and I have.) No matter how old I get, the simplicity of the story, the slapstick humor of poor Max trying to pull the sleigh, and the delightful thrill of hearing “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” never wears off. When I watch this, I’m a kid again, enjoying the story of how the true spirit of the holidays got a mean old Grinch’s heart to grow three sizes. The beauty of the story, the charm of Dr. Seuss’ wonderful words, and the nostalgia are always a winning combo.
Lord of the Rings – To be honest, I think any time is a good time for some LoTR. But especially in December, all I want is hobbits and warriors and a good dose of the Shire. Despite how many times I’ve seen these movies (my in-theater record is Return of the King with eight – just one shy of my goal of nine!) they never get old. Frodo’s bravery, Sam’s loyalty, and Aragorn’s morality never fail to inspire. Merry and Pippin’s friendship and humor never fail to light up a room. And Gandalf’s long fall in Moria never fails to bring tears. There is very little I prefer on a dark winter evening than immersing myself in Middle Earth, and bringing my own hobbit-y tendencies to the surface.
The Nutcracker – Really, any version of The Nutcracker will do. I’ve seen friends perform in ballet school versions year after year. I’ve seen the Joffrey perform in Chicago. I’ve watched at least five different versions on TV over the years. But my absolute favorite – the one I watch every year – is my DVD of the American Ballet Theater Nutracker from the 70s, featuring Gelsey Kirkland and the incomparable Mikhail Baryshnikov. While I’ve outgrown my preschool days of imitating every step of Kirkland’s “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy”, I still catch my breath every time I see Baryshnikov leap across the stage, and feel my heart swell every time the orchestra crescendos in the final pas de deux. I learned long ago that I don’t have the patience or talent to dance ballet myself, but ever December I still enjoy immersing myself in the art.
Whatever the latest Disney/Pixar/Dreamworks masterpiece is – This is a holdover from the days when someone in the family, down to my youngest brother when I was a teenager, always got one of these fantastic animated movies for birthday or holiday gift. At some point between Thanksgiving and New Years, at least one or two of these movies entered our household. So did many others of course, but with a wide age range for the kids, we always had to stick with something appropriate for the youngest. So Kung Fu Panda, Toy Story, The Emperor’s New Groove, and so on were always part of our holiday festivities. So now it just doesn’t seem like December without at least one awesome animated movie to keep us all laughing and enjoying some family time together!
What are your favorite things to watch at this time of year? Do you stick with holiday classics, or have some slightly less logical choices for your winter viewing?