Classic Christmas films become a family tradition |

Classic Christmas films become a family tradition

Ryan Salm/Sierra SunAll the Best Video employee, Jesse Heaton rents out some of today's most popular Christmas movies including "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" and "It's A Wonderful Life" on Friday.

Classic Christmas films like “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” have won a memorable place in movie history with viewers, and this year the films are celebrating big-time anniversaries.

The well-loved animated version of the Grinch first came to life in 1966, with the precisely crafted words by Dr. Seuss: “Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas … perhaps … means a little bit more,” telling the Grinch story in rhyme that seems to appeal to all ages.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the cartoon classic. But it doesn’t stop there.

“It’s A Wonderful Life,” starring Jimmy Stewart, turns 60 in 2006, and the cult classic “A Christmas Story” received added attention recently when the house featured in the 1983 movie was restored as a museum.

But what then, makes a Christmas movie a holiday tradition? Is there a formula movie-makers follow to guarantee a blockbuster?

The North Tahoe Family Resource Center decided to have a showing of “A Christmas Story” on Dec. 22. Staff at the center talked about what movie to show, and conversations kept revolving around “A Christmas Story,” said Sarah Coolidge, resource coordinator for the center.

“It’s very real and what Christmas is really like,” Coolidge said.

Coolidge said she watches the Christmas comedy at home every year and can relate to “living in the Midwest” as a child. “A Christmas Story” depicts the life of a Cleveland, Ohio family of four as the Christmas holiday approaches and finally arrives.

Iconic absurdities like the “Old Man’s leg lamp,” and colorful characters like “Ralphie,” who is told he can’t have a Red Rider BB gun because “you’ll shoot you’re eye out,” make the movie memorable, Coolidge said.

The scene where Ralphie’s little brother, Randy, “falls in the snow and can’t get up is so funny,” Coolidge said. Movies like “A Christmas Story” and “It’s A Wonderful Life” are classics this time of year because they’re really about family, she said.

At Barbara Cramer’s home in Nevada City, “The Grinch” is a Christmas tradition with her children and grandchildren. On Christmas morning, Cramer said, “we open presents together and then put in the tape and watch it together.” She said her favorite part of the movie is “at the end how everything is great” and “you just hope everything is like that” on Christmas.

In the last five years, close to 6.4 million viewers tuned in to watch “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” on television.

However, not everyone celebrates the holidays by watching movies.

“I didn’t have a TV growing up,” said Jakob Foley of Truckee. “I get together with my family.”

But for people like Foley and others, it’s never too late to consider starting a new Christmas tradition. Eight-year-old Maddison Paul of Truckee said she waits to see the new holiday movies every year, and this year recommends “The Santa Clause 3” for youngsters.

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