Are the kids getting excited and impatient? Entertain them with some classic Christmas movies and TV shows! Here is a list of our family’s favorites. Most are available on Amazon Instant Video, and others can be seen on YouTube or elsewhere online for free.
Christmas in Connecticut (1945) – In this comedy, a food writer (Barbara Stanwyck) who has lied about being the perfect housewife must try to cover her deception when her boss and a returning war hero invite themselves to her home for a traditional family Christmas. The events at the farm take place on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the day after Christmas. Watch it free on YouTube.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947) – Susan’s mother told her the “secret” about Santa a long time ago, so Susan doesn’t expect to receive the most important gifts on her Christmas list. But after meeting a special department stare Santa who’s convinced he’s the real thing, Susan is given the most precious gift of all – something to believe in. Watch it free on YouTube.
It’s A Wonderful Life (1947) – “Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings. ” An angel (Henry Travers) helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman (James Stewart), by showing what life would have been like if he never existed. This has been one of our family’s favorite Christmas movies for many years.
The Bishop’s Wife (1947) – A bishop trying to get a new cathedral built prays for guidance. An angel (Cary Grant) arrives, but his guidance isn’t about fundraising. The Bishop’s Wife is set during the Christmas season and features a beautifully-decorated Christmas tree, the Nativity, Santa Claus, angels, snowfall, and gift-giving. The initial scenes of the movie revolve around the Bishop’s wife doing her Christmas shopping, and the final scenes of the film take place on Christmas eve when the Bishop gives his Christmas sermon at St Timothy’s Church. Watch streaming HD online free.
A Christmas Carol (1951) – Stingy businessman Ebenezer Scrooge is known as the meanest miser in Victorian London. He overworks and underpays his humble clerk, Bob Cratchit, whose little son, Tiny Tim, is crippled and may soon die. He also has nothing to do with his nephew, Fred, because his birth cost the life of his beloved sister. On Christmas Eve, Scrooge is haunted by the ghost of his old business partner, Jacob Marley. On Christmas Eve, Scrooge sees the ghost of his old business partner, Jacob Marley, who tells him that he will be visited by three spirits. This will be Scrooge’s last chance to change his ways and save himself from the grim fate that befell Marley. Our family’s favorite Scrooge! Watch it on YouTube. See also: the excellent 1969 animated version of the Charles Dickens classic. OR watch the 1984 version of A Christmas Carol (with George C. Scott as Scrooge).
The Lemon Drop Kid (1951) – Comedian Bob Hope stars as a con man who offers a friendly horse tip to the girlfriend of mobster Moose Moran. When he accidentally steers her away from a winning bet, he is forced to come up with $10,000 to repay the angry gangster. Fortunately it’s Christmas, a time when people can be persuaded to part with money for the right cause. Not your traditional Christmas movie, but it introduced the wonderful “Silver Bells” song which is now a classic. Watch streaming HD online free.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) – Remember when Santa called upon Rudolph to guide his sleigh that foggy Christmas night? 2014 is the 50th Anniversary of this Rankin-Bass Christmas classic, narrated and sung by Burl Ives. Since the Collector’s Edition DVD/Blu-Ray was just released last month, you won’t find the movie online at Amazon Instant Video. But you can find the DVD in stores; I know Walmart has it. Or watch Rudolph’s first screen appearance in the form of a cartoon short produced by Max Fleischer in 1944.
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) – Disillusioned by all the commercialism he sees around him, Charlie Brown tries to find the true meaning of Christmas. This beloved classic from creator Charles M. Schultz and producer Bill Melendez won both an Emmy and a Peabody Award. One of our family’s favorites that we watch every year, it includes a beautiful rendition of Luke 2:8-14 from the KJV Bible. Melendez at first tried to talk Schultz out of using such a blatant Biblical message, to which Schultz replied, “If we don’t do it, who will?” During his famed speech, Linus, who is well known to be dependent on his security blanket, actually lets go of it when he recites these words: “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy.” As for the tree – it’s amazing what a little love can do.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) – In this classic tale written by Dr. Seuss and directed by Chuck Jones, a grumpy hermit (Boris Karloff) is irritated at the thought of the nearby village having a happy time celebrating Christmas. So he hatches a plan to steal Christmas from the Whos of Whoville. But when it was all said and done, the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. “Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more!”
The Little Drummer Boy (1968) – This has got to be the saddest Christmas video ever, but it’s a classic with a catchy tune. An orphan drummer boy who hates humanity has his life changed forever when he meets three wise men on route to Bethlehem and then goes to see Baby Jesus. “Aaron’s heart was filled with joy and love. And he knew at last that the hate he had carried there was wrong. As ALL hatred will ever be wrong. For more powerful, more beautiful by far than all the eons of sadness and cruelty and desolation which had come before, was that one tiny, crystalline second of laughter. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. ” Watch it online.
VeggieTales Holiday Double Feature (1996 & 2002) – The kids love these two VeggieTales classics! In “The Toy That Saved Christmas” (1996), Mr. Nezzer has convinced Dinkletown that they need to buy lots of his toys to make the season happy. But one of those toys isn’t buying it and sets out to prove that there’s more to Christmas. “The Star of Christmas” (2002) takes place in Victorian England. While Bob and Larry (as Calvin and Millward) are planning a Christmas spectacular, a church across town is putting on a humble Christmas pageant.
The Christmas Story (2005) – A refreshing minimalist animated retelling of the Christmas story told in 4 minutes and forty seconds, by Adam Hoggatt with music by Braden Studhalter. Free to watch on the Internet Archive.
What are your favorite Christmas movies? Have I forgotten any? Leave a comment below!