While I do appreciate my position working overnights at Target, it does tend to make me hate the holidays far more than I should. Do we really need to sell Star Wars toys that cost $300? Are you actually going to use that FitBit you got for Christmas after plummeting into a diabetic black hole for a month? How many “Christmas tree-shaped” (read: shapeless blob) peanut butter cups does one really need to eat during the season?
The one good thing about selling all this stuff is that people also tend to buy a lot more movies! Every night we receive multiple boxes of Elf, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Christmas Vacation, Home Alone and tons of other holiday classics. No boxes of Die Hard though, and Die Hard is a Christmas classic. I will fight those who say otherwise. Knowing that people are taking these movies into their homes not only gives me a little injection of much needed holiday cheer, it makes me wonder why movie going has become such a steadfast tradition for many families across different communities throughout the holidays.
I often hear of people who only go to movies once a year on Christmas. That sounds like a mild form of torture to me, but is an exciting tradition for many. Then there are people like yours truly who have multiple holiday traditions when it comes to movies. My brother and I watch Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights (the singalong version, duh) every year on the first night of Hanukkah. If that weren’t enough, every year that my family can get together we catch a movie on Christmas in the theater. Others binge on their favorite film series, the Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings franchises being popular favorites. My wife looks back fondly on watching Marley and Me and sobbing all through the ending. My friend’s grandma has given him every new Fast and Furious movie over the years for Christmas. This time of year after all, is about family.
So why all the movies? Kids are off from school, parents may get a brief reprieve from work, and college students make their semi-annual pilgrimage back to wherever it is they came from. What else are we going to do? When Uncle Don wont shut up about becoming a branch manager and Aunt Kaity keeps going on about her newest diet that you know won’t last, it can be a challenge to make it through the holidays with your sanity intact. Gathering all that family in one place is not always a pleasant task. It is no wonder many of us pop in A Christmas Story, load up on the ‘nog and float through the holidays in an inebriated bliss.
A more cynical man would be happy with that explanation, but my semi-soul crushing job hasn’t fully obliterated my yuletide spirit just yet! Christmas is about coming together and gathering around the fire with family and sharing our most precious resource: time. Even if it is just sitting on our butt and watching a screen, the fact that we do it together during the holidays makes it an important time. Everyone isn’t off in their own world, on their own screen, absorbed in whatever normally seems so important. The exception being anyone who gets a VR headset for Christmas. Shame them and call them dumb because they look dumb.
Writer David Foster Wallace once said that the television was becoming the new fire place in our homes. While he meant that in a negative sense, I think that gathering around for holiday movie viewing is a positive force. It helps defend the idea of a common living room, which seems to be one of the last bastions of real family time. So gather your loved ones together and watch some movies over the break. Continue the traditions you have and start new ones with people who are important to you. Worst-case scenario, you just have to watch a crappy Adam Sandler movie every year…
Watch and Talk is a column about movies. They are not necessarily reviewed, but simply talked about. Watch and Talk looks at the cultural aspects and impacts of all manner of films.