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Best Holiday Movies: It's Not Christmas Without Family

Growing up in a small town in the ’90s, I don’t think Christmas could have gotten any better for me. I’m originally from Flagstaff, Arizona, one of the only cities in Arizona where it snows. I’m fortunate enough to have had plenty of white Christmases. My family always got a real tree and made a day out of decorating it. We would go to Christmas Eve mass and then to the neighbor’s annual party right after.
Christmas day usually consisted of waking up early to open gifts at our house and then head down to Phoenix to my grandparents’ house for a day full of eating the biggest Italian spread that you can imagine as well as gift-giving with first, second and even third cousins. 
All of these traditions have one thing in common. There were always Christmas movies playing in the background. I definitely have more than three favorites, but for all of our sakes, I’ll only share a few. 
The Santa Clause
The one with Tim Allen. There’s three of them, total, but obviously the original is the best. Allen’s character, Scott Calvin, his ex-wife and her new husband focus on making the Christmas season great for their son Charlie. This screams cliche Christmas for me. From the moment he puts on the Santa suit, the movie reflects most of the stories you hear about Santa growing up, including his crazy-fast weight gain and shaving every morning only to turn around and have a full head of white hair and a bushy beard right away. But Charlie knows what’s up: His dad is now the real Santa Claus. 
I believed in Santa Claus until I was 12 years old. I’ll never forget the day my older sister told me he wasn’t real. We were in our kitchen, and I was devastated, unsure if I’d ever recover from that bomb being dropped. I’m pretty sure that’s another reason why I love this movie so much: It brings Santa Claus and Christmas to life for me. Have you seen the way the North Pole is portrayed in this movie? How is that not a real place? It’s got to be.

Charlie never stopped believing. That is probably my favorite thing about this movie. Sweet Charlie, with his bowl cut – believe it or not, when I was growing up, I had a bowl cut, too! I can’t believe I just told y’all that. People thought I was a boy. I may be scarred for life – another reason why I identify with Charlie so much. Anyways, back to the point of this whole thing…
Santa Claus may not be a real person, and the North Pole, although geographically real, is obviously not a place where Christmas-obsessed elves spend 365 days a year building doll houses and Tonka trucks. But the spirit of Christmas is real, and I believe in it. The feeling of hope and happiness around Christmas is real. It brings families and friends together to celebrate and spend quality time. All gifts aside, what is better than those memories that you’ll have forever?

Jack Frost
Another one of my favorites – again, chock full of cliches – is “Jack Frost” with Michael Keaton and Kelly Preston. The Jack Frost band gets their big break right as Jack’s son Charlie starts Christmas break. (Woah, the son in this movie is also named Charlie. Mind = Blown.)
After a terrible car accident, Jack (played by Keaton) is reincarnated as a snowman when Charlie plays on a magic harmonica that his dad gave him. (Jack had told him that, no matter where they were, he could hear it if Charlie played it.) Charlie gets his dad back – at least for a while – and Jack gets a second chance to spend time with his son instead of hitting the road with his band. If that doesn’t tug on your heart strings, then I don’t know what will. 

I love watching Jack and Charlie get to have fun together. They go sledding, play tricks on the bullies from Charlie’s school and dominate snowball fights – all some of the most fun things about Christmas break. They build their relationship under the most unorthodox circumstances. Again, that’s a part of Christmas that just makes you feel good. 

Okay, so my final movie wasn’t made in the ’90s, but I can’t leave out “Elf.” I begged my coworker, Randall, not to write about it because it’s one of my all-time favorite movies. I could watch it in March and recite every single word. I love it that much. 
I know that my first two movies include plenty of Christmas cliches. I feel like “Elf” is almost satirical. It takes the story of the North Pole – and the naive elves that devote their lives to tinkering and caroling – to the next level. 

The quotes from this movie are the best! These are quotes you hear people using throughout the year, like “Bye, Buddy, hope you find your daaaaad” (uttered in the slowest, most drab voice, as if a narwhal said it). Oh wait, he did!
“Buddy the Elf, what’s your favorite color?” Man, I wish it was socially acceptable to answer the phone like that every time it rings. What would you do if someone you were calling answered like that?
Then there’s the song Buddy sings when his dad mistakes him for a Christmas-gram. I know every word, and I’m not sorry. 

Once again, we find ourselves enveloped in this story of a family that comes together to believe in the true meaning of Christmas – so much so that it powers Santa’s sleigh after an aftermarket engine can’t pick up the slack anymore. 
In case it’s not blatantly obvious by now, I’m a big softie for family. I’m fortunate enough to come from a big, loud Italian family that is always in each other’s business. It can be a big pain sometimes, but there’s always a big love there, even when it isn’t the holidays. 
Writing this list of my favorite movies helped me realize a few things. For one, they all have that father-son bond thing going on. They all have that grand epiphany at the end, that family is the most important thing around the holidays, which just gives me all the feels. Finally, they all strive to spread the word about the magic of Christmas. Because, after all, ‘The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”
Just another bit of advice from Buddy the Elf. 
Merry Christmas, y’all. Don’t ever stop believing in the magic of Christmas.

Elyse Lenaburg is HottyToddy.com’s social media manager. Email her at elyse.lenaburg@hottytoddy.com.

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