Tracie's Favorite Christmas Movies!

So I remembered once that Austin posted a list 3 years ago of his top ten Christmas movies and thought, you know I should do the same. So here are MY favorite Christmas movies in somewhat ascending order:

1.  The Santa Clause - This is my favorite Christmas movie of all time. This movie is just quintessential Christmas to me. Santa, the holiday spirit, presents, kids, elves, snow, humor. It's got it all. I love how the elfs look like children. It could be that this movie came out when I was still young enough to consider myself a kid (1994) or it could be that it's just that good of a show.

I love this description for The Santa Clause I found on the Sun Sentinel's  list of the Top 25 best Christmas movies: "It's every kid's dream: Dad could be Santa Claus. All he has to do is push the other Santa off his roof. That perfect mix of whimsy and mature laughs made this Tim Allen comedy an annual favorite. Who can forget Allen desperately trying to lose weight and shave his fast-growing beard?

The sequels you ask? We don't speak of them. Ever." (The Santa Clause came in at #4 on their list.)

Sums up my feelings. Especially about the sequels. ;)

2. Home Alone 1 & 2 - I list these two together because they're pretty much the same show. But they're both wonderful. They may be a bit silly and over-the-top and pretty unrealistic but man are they FUNNY. I don't know. I guess I'm a bit of a sadist but I still laugh my butt off every time Marv and Harry get pelted with paint cans. And the time Marv repeatedly gets hit by bricks in #2, I laugh so hard I CRY. Tear. Good times. (As a mention, Home Alone 3 is okay, but it's not a classic like the other two. And I haven't even bothered to see the fourth one. There's a fourth one you ask? Yeah.)

3. The Grinch - The first time I heard of this I was how are they going to make the classic story (and cartoon) into a full-length, live action movie? I saw it in the theater, and my opinion was meh.  But then I started watching it annually around the holidays with my best friend growing up and I grew to love it...just like the Grinch grows to love Christmas and the Whos. Jim Carrey as the Grinch is just hilarious. I love his facial expressions. It's just a fun, quotable movie. I'm going to make Austin watch it one of these days so he can learn to love it too.

4. Elf - Remember back when Will Ferrell was still funny? Ah memories. This movie gets a bit cheesy at the end but I love the childlike tone of this movie. It's a funny, feel-good family movie. I just got in the mood to watch this again. :)

5. Muppet Christmas Carol - The Christmas Carol is not only one of my favorite Christmas stories, it's one of my favorite stories period. You add Muppets to the mix, and well, it's a good time for everyone. Kermit as Bob Cratchit? Michael Caine as Scrooge? Don't miss this one. It's funny, touching, and lovable. Also Muppets.

6.  How the Grinch Stole Christmas - Yep, the original cartoon. It's just awesome. The narration by Boris Karloff (and the voice of the Grinch). The animation of the Grinch when he gets a "wonderful, awful" idea is just not to be missed. And Tony the Tiger singing "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch"! Childhood memories.

And that's the end of my favorite Christmas movies.

Honorable mentions:
Christmas Vacation - I remember thinking this was a funny movie but I haven't seen it since I was very young. I plan to remedy this.
Scrooged - I need to see this as an adult because I heart Bill Murray. When I was a kid, I just felt bad for him because everyone was mean to him. (I know. I missed the point. But things like that go over your head when you're 8.)
It's a Wonderful Life - I have only seen this once. I know gasp and shock. And not until I was like 14 or so. I remember thinking it was a good movie, but it doesn't scream "Chistmas!" to me. Like Austin says in his blog, "this is a good movie that takes place at Christmas." I need to see this one again.

I know what you're thinking. Where's A Christmas Story? Confession time: I don't really like the movie. Seriously. I think it's overrated. If it wasn't played all day long on Christmas every year, I don't think I'd ever even watch it. (Except it's Austin's favorite so I'll have to watch it occasionally.) I think it has amusing parts, but on the whole, I don't find it that funny or heartwarming or well-made or any of the other criteria I require for a good Christmas movie. Yes, it's iconic, but only because of the forced repetition of the movie every year and the whole "childhood memories" thing. If it was up to me, I'd choose different movies to show all day on Christmas. I know, I know BLASPHEMY. Oh well. It is what it is.



In high school I wrote the following poem:

Achieving Perfection
Always too much to do
Never enough time
Placed in a box by well-meaning family and friends--
trying to help, only making it worse--
Walls closing in

This still encapsulates how I feel today. There are many themes in this short poem that apply to me and my life. But the part I want to focus on is "placed in a box by well-meaning family and friends."

I think there is something about human nature that wants everything to be neatly labeled. Things are black and white. You are a Blue. This is evil. This is good. I am right. You are wrong. In a blog comment on one of the blogs I read, a commenter said on the topic of discussion (which is irrelevant to this post): "We all love simple answers. We all want guarantees. But maybe there are none." And I agree. Life is not black and white but rather multitudes and meritudes of shades of gray. And within these shades of gray are darker tones and lighter tones. Despite wanting life and the answers in it to be easy, simple, referenced, and quotable, life is just not that simple.
People are not that simple. We may think we know a person, and we can, to a degree. But people are not easily defined. We cannot be indexed and catalogued and placed into little boxes, our names stenciled on the front. 

We all make boxes for each other. The more time we spend with them and the more things we learn, we add it to the box. We take things out of the box when we find that we put things in there that don't belong. Over the years, these boxes should change. Just as people change. And though I find the process of boxing people up limiting and potentially damaging, it can, with provisions, be okay. Because I understand that some people feel the need to understand others by placing them into boxes. However, the problem comes when the boxes we make for others do not reflect reality, but reflect what we want the box to look like, i.e. who we feel that person to be. What we think and want that person to be. Another problem is what if when that person changes and grows, as we all do, what if we refuse to modify that box? And what if then we claim erroneously that someone has changed in ways that they have not changed or refuse to acknowledge the ways they have changed?

But I think the most dangerous way people use boxes is when they feel that they know what that box should look like, despite anything the person may think, feel, or say.

Recently in my life I have found people becoming frustrated with me because "I've changed." To that I say, so have you. We all have. We all do. Every day changing and growing and learning. What is this life but one of change? Did we not come here for the precise purpose of changing? I am not the same person I was 2 years ago. I am not the same person that married my sweetheart 4 years ago. I am not the same person I was in college, nor in high school. I am not the person I was in junior high and I have definitely changed since elementary school. But yet, I maintain that I am still me. I am still Tracie. I am still kind, passionate, loyal, playful, and headstrong. I am still stubborn, compassionate, tenacious, silly, smart, and true. I am still cautious, deliberate, lazy, logical, efficient, patient, and a procrastinator. I have always been these things. I will always be these things. (Though I hope to improve my so-called negative qualities.) To say that I am not the "same Tracie" is on one hand true because I have changed. And I expect I will continue to do so during my time on this mortal coil. But on the other hand, it is deeply hurtful. It is a slap in the face. It shows a deep misunderstanding of who I am. It pains me to realize that I cannot be accepted for who I am. And who I am really? I'm not even really sure some days. If I cannot even fully know myself, how can anyone? How can you?

So to those who have found that who I am today does not reflect the box of me you have on your shelf, please understand that box is not me. I am standing in front of you. This is me. Please throw away that box. I have tried to tell you the deep parts of my soul only to have you misunderstand because you cannot understand. When you point to your box on the shelf and say, "But Tracie, this isn't you!" Know that I am filled to the depths of my soul with sorrow, frustration, and exasperation. Because I continue to say "you don't understand." And I know that you cannot. Because you are not me. You cannot think the way I do. You cannot know me until you can understand me. You cannot understand me until you start to listen. You are hearing what I say, but you are not listening. I understand that there is a person that you wish me to be but you don't get to decide that. You see that I am making different decisions than you would. But you are not me. You don't get to decide what is the best path for me to walk. You don't get to decide what should make me happy. What makes me happy may not be the same things that make you happy. You must accept that. I refuse to be placed in a box. I don't place myself in a box because I know that I am ever changing, ever growing. I do not know where life may take me. But know that only I get to decide which road to take, how to take it, why to take it, and why it matters. Please throw that box away. It is stifling in there and painful beyond anything you can ever know.

P.S. Know that this works both way. Know that long ago I burned the boxes I placed on my shelf. I have decided that I don't need them; they do no good for me or for anyone in my life.