Nancy: Tell Me a Christmas Story

Snoopy pursuing his arch-nemesis, the Red Baron.

Snoopy pursuing his arch-nemesis, the Red Baron.

A few weeks ago, Elizabeth mentioned she’d been fighting a winter bug and spending time snuggled up under blankets, tissues close at hand. Somehow, her bug has made its way across the country and infested Chez Hunter. I spent most of Friday night and Saturday under my own blankets with tissues, hot tea, and sympathetic cats close at hand. And if watching TV when sick is a time-tested tradition, it’s an absolute necessity during the holiday TV movie season.

Two of the movies we love to watch during the holidays are Elf and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. But those are for healthier, happier, eggnog and rum-fueled times, at least in our house. For my sickbed viewing, I watched made-for-TV movies. You know the ones. There’s usually a girl in trouble or suffering or trying to advance her career, and a boy of some sort causing conflict (or sometimes just trouble) against the backdrop of snow-covered streets, Christmas tree lots, and ubiquitous carolers. (I have never seen actual carolers in real life, but if these TV movies are to be believed, my town is the only town in America without them because they are EVERYWHERE.) Sadly, as I discovered on my multi-hour binge of these holiday rom-coms, there is very little ‘com’ and even less ‘rom’ in many of them.

On Sunday, I had out-of-state family obligations, and while on our long drive, which included the seasonally-required holiday soundtrack, I had fun thinking about the movies that could made from the stories told in so many of my favorite holiday songs. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer started as a story and became a song (and then became a claymation TV special), but I think at least a few more modern Christmas songs deserve to be turned into movies.

Elf’s Lament by the Barenaked Ladies. I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard this song on the radio, but it’s on a really fun holiday album from BNL (Barenaked for the Holidays, of course). You know about Santa and his reindeer and his ever-cheerful elves, like Buddy from Elf. But is everything at the North Pole really as rosy as it seems? Our hero in this story is the elven Norma Rae. And he has a message for that union-busting Santa. The old guy in his red suit may thunder, but if he blunders, he may wonder where the toys went. Will our hero’s fight for an elf union result in victory for his brethren or will it end in a Christmas disaster felt ’round the world?

Last Christmas by Wham!. This is an all-time favorite around our house, but I must warn you, we are partial to the original. No remakes allowed (or we’ll sic disgruntled elves on you). It’s a classic story of heartbreak at Christmas time. Last Christmas, our hero gave his heart to his beloved, and the very next day, his beloved gave it away. Worst re-gifting faux pas ever! This year, to save himself from tears, our hero will give his heart to someone special. But will he get his happily-ever-after this time, or spend another Christmas in heartbreak hotel?

Snoopy’s Christmas by the Royal Guardsmen. I have loved this song dearly since I was a very small child. Yes, this song was inspired by the cartoon beagle. But think about the possibilities. Our setting: the 19-teens, near the German border. It’s a cold, clear Christmas night when  WWI fighter pilot Snoopy takes to the sky to pursue his arch-nemesis, the German ‘bloody Red Baron’. Our villain quickly gets the upper hand and forces our hero to land behind enemy lines. This could be the end for our hero, but the villain has a change of heart and offers a holiday toast instead. This sweeping wartime saga will keep you on the edge of your seat as you try decide: was it really the Christmas bells from the village below that kept the Red Baron from shooting?

Perhaps next year we’ll have to schedule a blog Christmas movie watch party to dissect some made-for-TV rom-coms and delve into what the heck sends some of these stories off the rails. In the meantime, what holiday stories – movies, TV shows, or even songs! – are keeping you toasty warm and happy this time of year?


10 thoughts on “Nancy: Tell Me a Christmas Story

  1. I love Barenaked Ladies, and “Elf’s Lament” is so much fun! It also features Michael Buble, who is adorable. I love that album. There’s a sweet one about snowprints in the snow that often pops up in my head this time of year.

    Has anyone here heard “Text Me Merry Christmas” that just came out last year? It’s done by Straight, No Chaser and features Kristen Bell. It’s not a novel, but it’s a great slice-of-life in the modern day. There’s a line that goes something like, “I just can’t help waiting/ for my pants to start vibrating” (from the phone, obvs!). I get such a kick out of it and the claymation animation. Love in the 21st century!

    Doing a blog movie watch sounds like a great idea! We could even try to live-tweet it if we found a time that’s good for many people. When Jenny and Lani were doing the Popcorn Monologues, I found early morning on Saturday (I think it was Friday evening where they were) to be perfect. I won’t be able to do that until after March, though. Just kicking your idea around a little bit more (-:.

    • I haven’t heard Text Me Merry Christmas, but I’ll have to search for it on youtube. Agreed about the BNL holiday album being a great one. We actually saw their holiday performance one year when they came to the Meyerhoff symphony hall in Baltimore. We have a picture of my then 15-year-old daughter with bright pink hair and Steven Page :-).

      We should work on the live-blogging or live-tweeting logistics between now and next December. One of the challenges will be finding ways for you and Jilly and any non-US participants to view the made-for-American-TV movies. But we love a good challenge!

      • Sigh! Swoon! I love Steven Page. I wish he’d come out with another real album instead of doing all this funky stuff that reminds me slightly of self-publishing. I know how to buy a CD. The rest of the stuff makes me a little worried that I’m filling up my computer with too much stuff.

  2. Your song choices are all good ones, Nancy, but I also loved the “Elf’s Lament.” Such a fun storyline for this time of year! And Michaeline, I enjoyed “Text Me Merry Christmas” last year. A great tune for the zeitgeist.

    At this time of year, I always reread Jenny Crusie’s “Hot Toy,” which for me really captures the spirit of the season. For movies, I always like rewatching “The Man Who Came to Dinner” with Bette Davis, Ann Sheridan, and Monte Woolley. The characters are based on real people but it’s a fictional story, set around Christmas time (so nice holiday decorations on the set) without really being about Christmas. It’s a fun movie about a guy who breaks a leg on someone’s ice, accepts an offer to recuperate there, and then decides to stay for six months.

  3. How about some classics? Two I always have to watch at Christmas with my mom are The Bishop’s Wife (with Cary Grant, Loretta Young, & David Niven) and White Christmas (Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye) … Although it’s not exactly a Christmas movie – it spends a lot of time in the winter so I always think of it around Christmas is The Farmer’s Daughter (also with Loretta Young).

    Another one that was neat – out just a few years ago has Julie Andrews and James Garner “One Special Night” (Man with wife dying in hospital with doctor who works there. She offers him a ride, but a bad snowstorm with a slide off the road, shows some past and a potential future). Hallmark has been running almost endless Christmas and Christmas Romance Movies since Thanksgiving. Some are a bit too easy and sappy – but some are genuinely nifty and some we look forward to as re-views each year now including “A Boyfriend for Christmas” (as you would guess – teen girl asks Santa for boyfriend – When she is ready – santa makes it happen with her perceived “enemy”), “The Christmas Card” (a soldier comes home and goes to the town & woman who sent him a christmas card while he was on deployment), “Christmas in Paradise” (a single dad and a single mom meet on a christmas cruise to mexico – with Colin Ferguson from Eureka).

    • Oh, lots of great movie viewing ideas, Penny. I haven’t seen The Bishop’s Wife (I ❤ Cary Grant!) or White Christmas in years.

      We need to make note of some of the Hallmark movies you mentioned in case we decide to do the live-blog watch party next year!

  4. Sorry to hear you were sick Nancy, hope you are well on the mend. I love the idea of Christmas songs that deserve to be movies, but of course I can’t think of a single song right now.

    I’ve been watching a lot of holiday romances on the one of the local cable channels. They have been running holiday themed movies almost non-stop for weeks now. Some of them are pretty hokey, and the “big misunderstanding” has been a little to prevalent for my tastes, but there have been some that were pretty good.

    This past weekend, it was time for a marathon of old animated holiday shows, like Frosty and The Year Without a Santa Claus, as well as my favorite holiday classic Miracle on 34th Street. I’ve watched the original and the remake a couple of times already.

    • IIRC, “The Year Without a Santa Clause” is the one with the Miser brothers. I think Heat Miser is my favorite claymation character ever :-).

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