Margaret Hair: Holiday movie traditions

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Margaret Hair

Margaret Hair's column appears Fridays in the 4 Points arts and entertainment section in the Steamboat Today. Contact her at 871-4204 or e-mail mhair@steamboatpilot.com.

I come from a generally inactive family.

Where other families might venture out to test new toys, play in the snow or do other adventurous things on Christmas Day, my immediate family has done the same thing every Dec. 25 for at least 23 years: We sit in the living room and watch movies.

It might sound boring, but it's one of my favorite holiday traditions. It's also the reason I know every line of National Lampoon's "Christmas Vacation." We don't watch "Miracle on 34th Street" or "It's a Wonderful Life" or "A Charlie Brown Christmas." We watch "Christmas Vacation."

It's not as wholesome or all-American as the classics, but I'm a fan. Because really, "It's a Wonderful Life" is a movie I have seen once and thought was kind of cute. "Christmas Vacation" is a movie that actually resembles the way most families view the holidays.

Perhaps the Hair family has an unorthodox view about what makes a classic holiday movie. Regardless, here's our lineup of favorites, in order of viewing each Christmas Day:

1. National Lampoon's "Christmas Vacation" (1989) - There's no way I could choose one favorite line or scene from this movie, and some of the best ones aren't especially fit to print. But among my top picks are, "I wouldn't be more surprised if I woke up in the morning with my head stapled to the carpet" (on Cousin Eddie showing up unannounced), and "I'd rather not spend the holidays dead" (on Clark getting into a road rage fight with the driver of a pickup).

2. "Santa Claus" (1985) - Generally, this is a heartwarming movie about how Santa Claus survives in a world characterized by a greedy 1980s New York City. A lot of it is set in the North Pole, and the good guys win in the end. But there's one scene that stands out to me, and seems a little bizarre: John Lithgow plays B.Z., a super-villain toymaker who's only out to make money. He's introduced in a court scene, where he's being tried for making unsafe toys. Among the evidence presented is a teddy bear stuffed with broken glass and nails, and a doll that bursts into flames. Strange.

3. "The Santa Clause" (1994) and "The Santa Clause 2" (2002) - During my senior year of college, I had to write a newspaper review of "The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause." I made the mistake of telling my roommates I was going to see the movie. They still make fun of me for it.

4. "Elf" (2003) - It would break my family's heart to know this, but I kind of hate "The Santa Clause" movies. "Elf" is a welcome, recent and adorable addition to the our movie lineup, and it's the only one I can think of - besides maybe "Scrooged" - that could erase the memories of more than four hours of Tim Allen holiday comedy.

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