If you have the time to see a movie during the last ten days before Christmas, here are a few ‘grandparent/grandchildren-friendly’ options to consider.
Many Christmas movies are in the form of feel-good shows or romantic comedies that take place during the Christmas season and seldom include anything Christian other than some Christmas lights and a few Christmas carols. White Christmas is a classic in this category. It’s a Wonderful Life, starring James Stewart as George Bailey, has more depth, relating the story of a man who is considering ending his life on Christmas Eve but is rescued by Clarence, his guardian angel.
Some Christmas movies were made to appeal specifically to the young. Home Alone is a 1990 comedy starring Macaulay Culkin. The storyline follows a boy who defends his suburban Chicago home from an invasion by a pair of bumbling robbers after his family accidentally leaves him behind on their Christmas vacation to Paris. Elf is a comedy starring Will Ferrell as Buddy, a human raised by Santa’s elves, who heads off to New York City to meet his biological father. Babes in Toyland, a.k.a. March of the Wooden Soldiers is a Laurel and Hardy Christmas musical released in 1934 and based on Victor Herbert’s 1903 operetta of the same name.
Many Christmas made-for-television animation specials were created in the 1960s and are mostly secular. However, they typically have a good moral resolution and often portray characters exemplifying qualities such as kindness, goodness, and mercy. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was filmed in 1964. It is the longest continuously running Christmas TV special in the United States. It was followed in 1965 by A Charlie Brown Christmas, based on the comic strip, ” Peanuts”, by Charles M. Schulz. This special clearly ties into the nativity story at the end. In 1966, How the Grinch Stole Christmas premiered. 1969’s Frosty the Snowman is based on the song recorded in 1950 by Jimmy Durante. It is about a snowman who magically comes to life. 1970 was the premier of the movie Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town based on the 1934 song that tied into the story of St. Nicholas. Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas is a 1977 Muppet special directed by Jim Henson and inspired by O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi.
Charles Dickens is credited with establishing the “do good, feel good” secular spirit of Christmas through his 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol. Mickey’s Christmas Carol is a 1983 animated adaptation of this story and stars Scrooge McDuck as Ebenezer Scrooge. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) is based on the same story but is a musical featuring Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit.
Shows that encompass the Christian theme more directly include:
The Little Drummer Boy, a 1968 television special based on a traditional Czechoslovakian song with a tie into the nativity story at the end.
The Star, a 2017 American computer animated biblical comedy that tells the nativity story from the point of view of the Christmas animals.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, a 2005 Christian allegory based on the story by C.S. Lewis.
The Nativity Story, a 2006 biblical story of the nativity of Jesus.
Additionally, Christmas with the Chosen: Holy Night is currently being shown in select theaters now through December 17th.
Mike Shaughnessy is the founder of Grandly and the author of The Strategic Grandparent.