Whitney Urien
December 18, 2014 6:00 am

It’s the most wonderful time of the year to cuddle up and watch a classic holiday movie, or two or three, or heck, you could have a whole HOLIDAY MOVIE MARATHON. I am a sentimental gal so  I really can’t get enough of these classic Christmas movies—I love to watch as I’m decorating my tree, or having my girlfriends over to eat massive amounts of cookies. Here are some of the best versions, and all of my favorites, that are sure to fill your heart with holiday spirit, or just make you smile.

Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

One of my close friends is a huge fan of this movie, she introduced me to it several years ago and it has now become a part of my annual holiday lineup. Barbara Stanwyck plays Elizabeth Lane, a Martha Stewart-like writer, who lives on a farm in Connecticut with her husband and baby. The only problem is she actually is single and living in a small apartment in New York City, and she gets all of her recipes from her friend Felix. Things are going pretty well for Elizabeth, until her unknowing publisher Alexander Yardley (Sydney Greenstreet) asks her to host a returning war hero (Denis Morgan) for Christmas dinner at her farm in Connecticut. Fearful for her job, she “borrows” the Connecticut farm of her wealthy friend John who willingly agrees pose as her husband while they also “borrow” a baby. Hilarity ensues.   Christmas in Connecticut has all of the elements of a classic Christmas film, and it never seems tired or outdated.

Meet me In St. Louis (1944)

Meet Me In St. Louis isn’t exactly a Christmas movie, but it is the film that gave us the classic Christmas song “Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and its strong themes of family togetherness and heavy nostalgia make it perfect for the season. The story centers around the Smith family who live in St. Louis in 1903 and are anxiously waiting the Worlds Fair. The movie shows us a year in the lives of this typical American family: the older daughters, Rose and Esther (Judy Garland), are concerned with boys and falling in love; the brother has just gone off to college, and the two younger girls are always getting into trouble. The family harmony is turned upside down when their father announces that his company has transferred him to the New York Office and the whole family will be leaving to St. Louis right after Christmas. Expecting celebration, and getting tears instead, the family struggles with the idea of leaving home and starting out somewhere new. The film’s sweetest and most powerful moment comes when Esther sings “Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas to her younger sister “Tootie” (Margaret O’Brien) on Christmas Eve to try to reassure her that everything will be fine in New York as long as they are together. This movie is Judy Garland at her best—she is funny, charming, and, of course, has that amazing voice which can move you to tears.

Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without watching A Charlie Brown Christmas, which first debuted in 1965 and has become a beloved tradition ever since. Most of us know the story of Charlie Brown Christmas, but that doesn’t stop us from tuning in every year to watch it with a mug of hot cocoa. 

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Don’t hate me—I know it is horribly cliche —but I love It’s A Wonderful Life.  Like I said I’m a sentimental gal and I love the message this movie brings. I remember watching it as a kid, and thinking that it was long and boring and not really getting it. Now that I am older and have faced my own trials and difficulties, this film hits me right in the gut, and I cry every time George Bailey starts running down the snow-lined streets of Bedford Falls. Did you know when this movie was first released it was considered a flop? INCONCEIVABLE. We have all been George Bailey at some point, or been the child of a George Bailey or the spouse or friend. That is why, after almost 70 years, this movie is still loved and cherished and taken out every year along with cherished ornaments and stockings and introduced to a new audience. Just like George, we could always use a reminder of just how lucky we are.

The Shop Around The Corner (1940)

If you are a fan of You’ve Got Mail, then do yourself a favor and check out the film that it is based on. It does not have Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, but it does have Jimmy Stewart and (see above) that is just as charming. The premise is familiar—a young woman, Klara (Margaret Sullivan), living in pre-World War II Hungary, advertises for a pen pal with the condition that they stay anonymous. A young men named Alfred (Jimmy Stewart) responds to her add, and the two slowly begin to fall in love through their letters. However, what they don’t know is that they already know each other-because the both work at a small gift shop that is you guessed it-just around the corner. Klara is always getting on Alfred’s nerves, and she thinks that he is stuck up. As Christmas approaches, the two pen pals decide to finally meet and things go wrong and then they go right. Just like that warm-wonderful feeling you get when you watch a great romantic comedy PLUS a wonderful Christmas movie, The Shop Around The Corner might be one of the best Christmas presents you could give yourself.

Images via, ABC, MGM, RKO, Warner Bros.

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