News Column

The Leader-Telegram, Eau Claire, Wis., Jocelyn Syrstad column

December 1, 2013

YellowBrix

Dec. 01--With Thanksgiving now over it seems like everyone, including myself, is in full Christmas mode. As we all continue to get into the holiday spirit, here are some movies I enjoy during this time of year:

The Classic

Growing up, my mom kept the Christmas movies stowed away with all of her other decorations for 11 months out of the year. That meant no watching Santa Claus movies until after Thanksgiving and then putting them back away a couple of days after the holidays.

As much as I hate to admit I've turned into my mother, I will admit that I do the same thing and only watch Christmas movies during December. So now that we're in the final month of the year, there are a handful of movies that will be taking up my free time.

My absolute favorite Christmas movie is "It's a Wonderful Life." My sisters always hated when it was my turn to pick the movie when we were little because they found the film boring -- we were probably in elementary and middle school at the time, so I guess the moral of the movie didn't mean much back then -- and couldn't understand why anyone would want to watch a movie in black-and-white. But each year I make sure to watch the film, and each year I fall in love with it a little more.

"It's a Wonderful Life" is just such a great reminder of what is important in our lives. It's not money or a job or a fancy house that make us wealthy, but the people who we love and who love us back that do. Each time I watch the movie I am reminded of things in the previous year that I took for granted and I vow to do a better job of focusing on what's important in the upcoming year. I don't know if it always works out that way, but the film is a good reminder of how to live nonetheless.

The Humorous

As far as non-classic Christmas movies go, I have to say that "The Grinch" with Jim Carrey is one of my favorites. I laugh hysterically -- by myself, I may add -- every time I watch that movie.

A couple of years ago I was visiting an old boyfriend at his college a couple of weeks before Christmas. He had to study for some finals, so I went into the living room to watch "The Grinch" by myself. Within half an hour he was poking his head into the room asking if I'd please quiet down because my laughter was disturbing the studying he was doing for his mechanical engineering exam. I had to completely turn off the movie and put in a less funny one, because how on earth can one not laugh at "The Grinch?"

Again, this is a must-see for me each December. I got so mad at myself last year when I tried watching it with my family, but fell asleep during the middle of it and missed all the best parts. I can guarantee that won't happen this year.

"The Grinch" is a movie I can recite line-for-line even though I usually only watch it once or twice a year. It's probably one that you don't want to watch with me, though, because I turn into that obnoxious person who laughs in anticipation of the funny parts.

But I love this movie for more than just its humor. I loved the animated version of "The Grinch" when I was a little girl and, again, I think the message behind the movie is one worth remembering. Between all the moments of laughter there are plenty of moments that remind viewers what this time of year is truly about.

The Chick Flick

I admit that I never saw "Love Actually" until I was a senior in college. I lived with three other girls -- two of whom celebrated Christmas, the other Hanukkah -- and Diana and Leah introduced me to the movie. One viewing and I was hooked.

This movie follows a lot of different characters through several story lines. But each one is some sort of love story -- young love, old love, new love, broken love -- which culminates in a heartwarming Christmas Eve.

"Love Actually" has only been out for about a decade, so it is in no means a classic Christmas story. Rather, it's supposed to be about real people dealing with real life issues around the holidays. The movie makes me laugh, cry, pound my fists in frustration and melts my heart time and time again.

It's definitely a chick flick -- there's no way my dad would ever want to sit down and watch this movie with my mom, my sisters and I -- but it's turned into a December tradition for me nonetheless.

Really, there are so many movies that I like to watch this time of year and I enjoy more Christmas movies than I have time to talk about. Each one has such a lovely message to share and each one gets me more and more excited for the holidays.

And there's something about only being able to watch these movies in December that I think makes them all the more special and enjoyable.

Syrstad can be reached at 715-833-9206, 800-236-7077 or jocelyn.syrstad@ecpc.com.

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(c)2013 the Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, Wis.)

Visit the Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, Wis.) at www.leadertelegram.com

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