I guess I'm weird. I love off-the-wall, sometimes naughty, often sentimental "Christmas" movies - things like Christmas Vacation, It's a Wonderful Life, Elf, Scrooged, Home Alone, The Nightmare Before Christmas, A Christmas Story, Bad Santa, even Die Hard. What I don't like at all are the nativity-based or overtly religious movies. Not because I think the story of the birth of Jesus has been exhausted, but because almost all of those "message" movies miss the completely subversive nature of the story - the "divine" found in a dirty, ugly feeding trough to homeless parents in a totally insignificant part of the Roman Empire.
This time of year, we're sure to get the whole range of movie offerings on TV and DVD. Right now, for example, I'm watching Eight Crazy Nights, an otherwise forgettable Adam Sandler movie about - get this - Hanukkah and basketball! It's a good thing Sandler is "animated" in this movie. It makes it so much easier to turn him into a basketball hero.
"I should stick you on a twig and roast you."
Family troubles, misshapen characters, anti-heroes - that's where the true narrative possibilities can be found in Christmas movies.
"That's a technical foul!"
Eleanore, Whitey, and Guest. It's people like that who have something to say to us at this time of year. So here's two thumbs up to Christmas movies, the opportunity to laugh, to curse, to cry, and to remember how weird and wonderful it is at this time of year.
[For a decent list of Christmas movies and TV times, check out It's a wonderful time for TV.]