The Jack-O-lanterns are now bug food. The kids are crashed out from their sugar rushes. The bathroom sinks are stained with face-paint smudges. The masks are put away and the pumpkin inflatables are now orange ponds on the lawn. Candy wrappers litter the sidewalk, but all the kids are accounted for.
The zombies still haven’t taken over, and Linus still hasn’t found the Great Pumpkin, while the Pumpkin King and the citizens of Halloweentown are celebrating another successful year.
The baton is now passed to the Pilgrims, but honestly what we all care about is Christmas. But what do we do with that long lull between November 1st and the month’s last Thursday? Do we pull out the Christmas music now or wait? Do we dawn Santa hats on our Publix Pilgrims salt and pepper shakers?
Sometimes it’s just so hard to wait, especially since so many people with obnoxious families dread Thanksgiving.
And what about our Christmas movies? Do we continue to watch dull, drab everyday non-holiday stuff, or can we pull out A Christmas Story and Scrooged?
Well, here’s a list of pre-Christmas movies that aren’t necessarily Christmas, but have just enough holiday in them to get you through to the first snowfall of the season.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles - I just recently rediscovered this movie on Netflix. This is hands-down the best Thanksgiving movie that could ever be made in a million years. I mean, really, the only way this movie could have been any better would be if they added Martin Short to it. (Then I guess it would be the Three Amigos without Chevy Chase, the way it should have been.) Just have the mute button ready if you’re watching this with kids. When Steve Martin approaches the nice rental car lady, he uses the F-word 18 times in 60 seconds, which is one of the reasons he agreed to do the film. And man, I miss John Candy!
Catch Me if You Can - I listed this as one of my top-ten favorite movies, yet I can only watch it just before the Christmas season. There’s a highly emotional scene in there where Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song” plays during a pivotal moment in Frank Abagnale’s life, and it just gets me every single time. Plus with all the snow in France, during the second half of the film, it’s hard not to feel a sort of warm-cuddly as you watch this masterpiece. Spielberg at his usual best, I guess.
Little Women - One of my all-time favorite books in the history of the world. No joke – and I’m comfortable enough in my masculinity to admit it. I study it when I read it, envious of Alcott’s flare for character development. I even think Rowling, as great as she is, has miles to go to catch up with Alcott. But there’s a Christmas scene or two in the movie, which is actually a pretty great tribute to the original text.
Die Hard - I couldn’t resist. I just felt I had to redeem myself from Little Women. Though I don’t watch it on a regular basis, it’s still a great action film with one Christmas song thrown in there.
Hook - When I was growing up, ABC would play this every Thanksgiving night and my dad would sometimes watch it with me. Spielberg and Williams didn’t quite care for the film’s final results, but I think the rest of us still enjoys it. And yes, there’s a Christmas tree in Granny Wendy’s house – although, do they really celebrate Christmas in London while we’re playing little league baseball here in the states? Maybe that continuity issue is what bugged Mr. Spielberg.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Okay, so this one’s sort of Christmas in reverse, as the happy ending isn’t “It’s snowing!”, but rather, “The sun’s out!” I know I’m not supposed to, but I get kind of depressed when the snow starts melting in this movie because it’s just so beautiful. But, Santa does make one of his greatest appearances here.
Pearl Harbor - December 7, 1941. Let’s not forget that America was just two-and-a-half weeks away from Christmas when we were attacked. And when is Michael Bay going to stop making giant robot movies and make more epics like this?
Beauty and the Beast - What kid doesn’t remember receiving their first copy of this movie on VHS on Christmas morning? And that snow scene? It almost passes for Christmasy, doesn’t it? Anyway, it joyful and triumphant, however you look at it.
What movies can you recommend to get us through the November lull?