Why Home Alone became my favorite movie when I was a college student

On November 16th, 1990, Home Alone was released in theaters. For its anniversary, one writer celebrates the film’s unexpected role in her life. 

It’s not often that you discover a new Christmas classic as an adult, but *insert old internet headline voice here* it happened to me. I wasn’t completely overtaken by the 1990 Christmas classic Home Alone until I was a college student in the 2000s. Sure, I had seen it as a child, but I wasn’t obsessed. I loved the pranks, obviously. It was the ’90s, and I was around Kevin’s age when I watched it (well, I got older and he stayed the same age—but we were the same age at one point). I appreciated his cunning tricks and sassy ‘tude as much as the next kid begging their parents for a Talk Boy by the time the sequel came out. (Sidenote: Talk Girls were so weak. The pen was not nearly as cool as the recorder.)

But Home Alone wasn’t really one of my family’s Christmas go-tos. We were National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation people. Definitely Elf people. We liked The Nightmare Before Christmas and the Frosty the Snowman from the 1960s. Home Alone would work itself into the rotation, but it wasn’t that important to me.

Then I went to college, where I lived with my best friend Casee–but “best friends” doesn’t do our relationship justice. We were more like life partners. Our existence was fully integrated, so when we fell into watching Home Alone regularly, it became an extension of us.

I don’t even remember why it happened, but during the holiday season of our sophomore year, we literally watched it every single day. Inexplicably.

When we were studying, we’d put on Home Alone. If we wanted to zone out and watch something—Home Alone. When we wanted to fully pay attention to a movie, yep, still Home Alone. From November to January 1st, our cute little apartment, decorated with photos of Titanic‘s Cal Hockley and other famous men we found hot, blared the music of John Williams while Kevin McAllister ran around on screen to ensure he got an ADA-approved toothbrush.

Discovering—or rediscovering—Home Alone in college was never supposed to begin a lifelong thing. It was never supposed to be something that solidified a friendship, but that’s exactly what it did.

We have another best friend, Megan, who fits into this little golden trio (golden quadruple, if you count Home Alone). To this day, in the year of Satan 2018, we still constantly quote the movie, regardless of the season. Megan and I used to email each other (before iMessaging and social media were what they are now), and every single message had the subject line, “Oh hi, ma’am.” That may seem unremarkable, but it actually references a throwaway line from Home Alone—the scene where Officer Balzak transfers a call to another police officer. “Oh hi, ma’am, it’s you again” isn’t even a line that anyone can claim originated from Home Alone, but it’s iconic for us.

This year, when I told Casee that my boyfriend and I were watching Home Alone for the first time this holiday season, she texted me emphatically, “Say hi to Dangly-Ones for me.” Do you remember when Kevin’s (terrible) mom, played by the (absolutely perfect) Catherine O’Hara, begs an elderly couple for their plane tickets by offering up her possessions? The elderly husband says, “She’s got her own earrings, a whole shoebox full of them, dangly ones.” Who cares about that line?! Who still talks about it?! We do!

I may not have been that much of a fan in my childhood, but now Home Alone is my favorite Christmas movie. It’s like…almost my favorite movie, period. It’s an obsession: I throw it on in the background when I need comfort (and joy). I’ll recite full scenes of dialogue with the characters, never even looking up from what I’m doing. The intonations in the actors’ voices are burned into my brain. Home Alone means so much to me, both as a person who loves the ’90s and as a person who enjoys warm memories of simpler times.

Being able to sit with my best friend on our couch in our apartment, watching Home Alone, like, 40 times in a row was such a special chapter of our young adulthoods. I can truthfully say that I love my memories and emotional connection with Home Alone as much as I love the actual film. Thinking about its symbolism in my life is akin to Kevin turning around and finally seeing his neglectful mother in the flesh on Christmas morning. It makes me feel—ready for it?—just a little less alone.

And isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Happy anniversary, you filthy animal.

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