Christmas Movies and a Puzzle: While We’re Waiting

Good morning, WFNY Nation!

I’m pinch-hitting for Andrew Schnitkey this morning. Apologies in advance for the lack of nostalgic 90s song, but that’s why WFNY’s Kyle Welch sponsors a random 90s song per day. Also, to take a break from the Indians whiffing on free agents, the Browns’ perpetual plummet to rock bottom, and the Cavs’ continued dominance, I’d like to turn everyone’s attention to the holiday season. December is all about the traditions. If I do the same thing in two consecutive years, then I treat that activity like a sacrosanct ritual going forward.1 That habit is most acutely felt through Christmas movies and TV shows. As such, the following are my most indispensable Christmas programs without which no December is complete.

5. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation: It’s the gift that keeps on giving the whole season. The beauty of this film is that I enjoyed it as a youngster, but every year I re-watch it I understand a new joke. Hey I think Clark was flirting with that department store lady! Wow that cop makes a really weird throwaway joke at the end! Despite the movie’s sometimes flimsy grasp on reality (sound barrier-breaking sleds don’t exist as far as I know) it always feels relatable in the family scenes. The characters all delight in their own way. Aunt Edna appears like an 84th minute soccer sub then immediately scores a hat trick. The movie never hesitates to lampoon (ha!) a good old-fashioned family Christmas, but that underlying familial love never feels distant.

4. Dr. Suess’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas: To be clear, I am talking about the Chuck Jones directed, Boris Karloff narrated, 1966 animated classic. The cartoon showcases all of Jones’ strengths: vibrant colors and zippy action in a world that immediately feels real and significant. Karloff’s aged and foreboding voice perfectly embodies children fiction’s most famous curmudgeon. The animation shines when the Grinch displays the various ways in which one can steal Christmas elements synchronized with a catchy song. Plus, as a kid I always appreciated the Whos’ resolve in the face of catastrophic home invasion and burglary. Maybe they’re all heavily insured.

3. Muppet Christmas Carol: “When a cold wind blows it chills you, chills you to the bone. But there’s nothing in nature that freezes your heart like years of being alone.” Thus, begins the finest Ebenezer Scrooge introduction in any “Christmas Carol” retelling. This film is embedded so deep in my brain I feel like I wrote it. Last week my wife and I watched this movie while baking Christmas cookies and I had to limit myself to only reciting half the film’s lines. The Muppets perfectly assume the famous Dickensian roles, and Michael Caine as Scrooge brings his fastball the entire flick. One would never guess that he is working with dancing felt in most of his scenes. If you don’t get a little misty when you hear “Thankful Heart” then I don’t know what to tell you.

2. The Family Stone: This is my wife’s favorite Christmas movie, and while it only came into my world in the past couple years it has quickly become a tradition. The family dynamic feels more readily available to a twenty-something like me while reflecting how your relationship with your parents changes over time. Even though Sarah Jessica Parker’s character takes putting one’s foot in one’s mouth to Olympic levels it does exhibit how stressful (and cringe-worthy) it can be to meet your new significant other’s family. The movie oozes sincerity and the through line of family keeps the plot honest. Or at least keeps the level of Christmas Magic to an acceptable level. Even in the worst of times there is always family.

1. Muppet Family Christmas: Do you like the Muppets? Do you like Sesame Street? Do you like Fraggle Rock? Do you want to see all three Jim Henson Company properties in the same farmhouse singing Christmas carols? I’ve got great news. This 1987 classic has a unique role in our holiday rotation; we have to watch it while trimming the tree. Timing-wise it almost always lines up perfectly. Bert and Ernie stage a reading of “A Christmas Carol.” The Swedish Chef considers cooking and eating Big Bird. Fozzie Bear animates a snowman with whom he performs comedy. Even the Muppet Babies pop in with a quick home movie appearance. The story is light on plot but offers heart in abundance. Plus it ends with a rare cameo of Jim Henson wearing a suit made of the wallpaper from that one Willy Wonka room.

Would anyone care for a puzzle? Here’s a holiday classic to get the brain working. Some of you may remember this from grade school, but in case you haven’t seen it before the objective is to figure out which famous Christmas carol is visually represented in each square. Also in case you’re feeling brave there is a 50-question and 150-question version of the quiz available on this truly fascinating website.

You’ll find the answers here. It’s a self-graded exam so we will use the honor system when reporting our scores *cough, Bode, cough* Best of luck and enjoy!2

Hopefully, this article helped get you a little more into the holiday spirit.

Whatever you celebrate I wish you peace, love, good weather, safe travels, and a Cavaliers victory on December 25. Fun fact: The Cavaliers are 7-6 all-time when playing on Christmas Day. Let’s hope they can notch win No. 8 in 2017.

  1. Browns fandom just has been explained. []
  2. Editor’s note: Corey still must not believe I received a whole 3-out-of-10 on Popelka’s Indians trivia. []

  • RGB

    2018 Browns Draft Position Watch.
    Currently: #1, #4 (We have MINKAH in our clutches! Mwahahaha!)

    Teams to root for this week:
    NYG @ Cards
    INDY @ Ratbirds
    YINZERS @ Houston
    SF @ Jax
    DA BEARS v Browns
    YUCANEERS @ Carolina

    Week 14: #1, #6
    Week 13: #1, #7
    Week 12: #1, #7
    Week 11: #1, #11
    Week 10: #1, #8
    Week 9: #2, #7 (#2 is because of the bye week. Still a solid #1 due to sos.)
    Week 8: #1, #13
    Week 7: #1, #15
    Week 6: #1, #15
    Week 5: #2, #12
    Week 4: #1, #12
    Week 3: #1, #7
    Week 2: #7, #11

  • BenRM

    Muppet Christmas Carol is a great one.
    We are also big fans of the Santa Clause at my household.

    I’ve never seen the Family Stone, but my distaste for SJP probably means I wouldn’t much enjoy it.

  • scripty

    While I love both Henson productions above, you failed to list the GOAT of all Henson Christmas movies.

    Emmet Otter Jugband Christmas

  • scripty

    I read yesterday that SOS give CLE 5th pick from HOU?

  • RGB

    My source uses all 16 opponents. Not just current opponents.

  • RGB
  • scripty

    This came out in summer. While I am probably the biggest Die Hard fan here, I can’t get there. But I also don’t think a hot dog is a sammich either.

  • scripty

    Okay, I couldn’t recall if mine had used that or now.


  • tigersbrowns2

    1 – A Christmas Story
    2 – Christmas Vacation
    3 – How the Grinch Stole Christmas w / Jim Carrey
    4 – Home Alone
    5 – Four Christmases
    6 – Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
    7 – Elf

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi BEN … Rachel McAdams & Claire Danes will make-up for that.

  • tigersbrowns2
  • tigersbrowns2
  • tigersbrowns2
  • BenRM

    You may have changed my mind!

  • CBiscuit

    We’re getting better each week!!!

  • mgbode

    Santa Clause III but not Home Alone 2???

  • RGB

    Unfortunately we have to root for the yinzers this week.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi MG … Santa Clause III had Martin Short in it … it was like adding Joe Pesci to the Lethal Weapon series … most times sequels don’t compare to the original … Home Alone 2 was okay , but not near the top of my list.

  • mgbode

    Home Alone 2 shouldn’t be at the top of the list, but I’m sticking with it being above Santa Clause III

  • Eric G

    Might actually get away with not having to root for them. I imagine they’re going to want to take out their aggression from that no-TD call.

  • Eric G

    No Wonderful Life? I watched it for the first time a few years back and was caught off guard by some of the pretty cutting humor. It’s our Christmas Eve tradition now.

    I enjoyed Polar Express, too, but probably mostly because Hanks is a Cleveland fan.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi ERIC … i forgot about Polar Express … it is in my massive movie collection. If you searched for the greatest Christmas movies of all-time , It’s A Wonderful Life would be #1 , Miracle On 34th Street might be #2 & Holiday Inn would probably be up there as well … these are all old movies , but timeless classics , no doubt.

  • mgbode

    Christmas puzzle No. 14 is the anti-Browns because it has “No L”

    Or Noel, one of the two.

  • Petefranklin

    1. Uncle Nick
    2. Christmas story
    3.Start at top and watch over.

  • Ain’t no hole in the washtub!

  • Even discussing Christmas movies before December 20 is too soon for me, so I’m a day behind on this. But here’s my personal Top 10 movies (with a few extras thrown in):

    1. Christmas Vacation.
    This is the only correct answer for “Best Christmas Movie Ever”. You may disagree, but you are wrong.

    2. Die Hard.
    Yes, it is. I also accept Trading Places and Gremlins as Christmas movies.

    3. Elf.
    Most quotable Christmas movie ever? I say yes.

    4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
    Cartoon only. Frosty is classic, Rudolph as well. But this one is required viewing.

    5. The Ref.
    Turns out Kevin Spacey is a creep. But I’m still watching this one every year, because it is hilarious. Denis Leary? I’m in.

    6. Love, Actually
    Mock me all you want, but my love for this movie will remain. I don’t even hate the “Brit kid goes to America” plot line.

    7. A Christmas Carol.
    The one with Patrick Stewart for me. The Muppet version is good, but Sir Patrick IS Scrooge.

    8. Charlie Brown Christmas.
    Charlie Brown holiday specials are always good by me.

    9. Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas.
    Sing it with me: Ain’t no hole in the washtuuuuuuub

    10. The Santa Clause.
    The Rose Suchak Ladder Company still blows my mind.

    I don’t mind Home Alone, but the fact that I haven’t actually watched it in YEARS means it clearly isn’t a Christmas priority in my book. And I suppose this is as good a time and place as any to admit that I’m not especially fond of A Christmas Story. I know, it’s a Cleveland classic, but…meh. It’s ok, has its moments, but…meh. I’ll catch it during the 24-hour marathon at some point, but it’s not appointment viewing for me.

  • tigersbrowns2

    Hi B-BO … good post.

  • Saggy

    Die Hard 2, then?

  • Saggy

    No love for Scrooged on this site?? Damn good flick. And give me Die hard 2, too.

  • chrisdottcomm

    1. Brazil
    2. Batman Returns
    3. Eyes Wide Shut
    4. Less Than Zero

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi CHRIS … interesting selections.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi SAGGY … i like Scrooged .

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