Sitting down with the family – or even by yourself – to enjoy a classic holiday movie or two is a fun holiday tradition for many people. With a glut of choices, though, and endless new additions on streaming, sometimes we forget the classics that are right under our noses. You probably even have an outlier, a classic that only your family remembers, but sometimes it’s fun to revisit the ones that made us enjoy the holiday season for the first time. Here are five holiday film classics worth a yearly revisit.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
This film has been remade a few times, and the 90s remake actually holds up pretty well, but the 1947 classic tale of a city that goes to great lengths to prove that they believe in Santa Claus is a tear-jerker with some great laughs thrown in. Filled with wonderful performances and some classic holiday toy store sequences (and an early appearance of the Christmas parade in New York City on film), Miracle on 34th Street is a fun reminder for the little kid in all of us.
A Christmas Story
You don’t have to have grown up in the 1940s to enjoy this look back on holidays of years past. It’s a big piece of nostalgia, to be sure, but the family dynamics in this film and the single-minded desire of one young boy for the perfect (if dangerous) gift is relatable to anybody looking forward to the holidays with glee and anticipation. If you don’t own this one, some stations run it for 24 hours during Christmas, so it’s hard to miss.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
While this one is certainly best if your kids are a little older, and is a little risqué here and there, it’s filled with the kind of heart that makes any good holiday film worth putting in the yearly rotation. The story of a family just trying to make Christmas work over a busy holiday is universally relatable.
The Preacher’s Wife
Denzel Washington plays an angel out to help a preacher during the holidays, but ends up falling in love with the Preacher’s wife, played by Whitney Houston. It’s a complicated tale, but still filled with the love of any great holiday film.
Perhaps the most recent great holiday film classic, Elf follows the story of Buddy the elf, who comes to New York City to meet his biological father, disrupting his life. It is filled with Christmas tropes and hilarious storytelling, and ends with a whole city finding Christmas spirit.
It’s always good to find new classic holiday films to add to the canon, and definitely fun to find that one special film everyone in your circle can gather around and enjoy. Maybe it’s a traditional classic like It’s a Wonderful Life, or maybe it’s something laughable like The Star Wars Holiday Special – whatever it is, the joy of sharing laughs, tears and maybe even a few literal and figurative chills with the people you care most about are bound to be lasting memories – and that’s what the holidays are all about.