Christmas is a time for family, food and film.
New channels appear dedicated entirely to Christmas movies. Okay, so most of those films are far too cheesy for me. Instead I revisit the same DVDs I watch every year, and here are my top 10.
10. Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
When a department store Santa Claus is actually the real deal, a non-believing young girl leads a campaign to prove his authenticity.
This is one of the first films I have memories of watching at Christmas. Having already watched and loved Matilda, which actually came out two years later, I was instantly happy to see Mara Wilson in such a sweet role. Even as an adult this movie fills me with the Christmas spirit.
9. Holiday Inn
Though not set entirely during the Christmas period, this 'old Hollywood' musical rom-com is the exact kind of feel-good movie the holidays call for. As two men vie for the affection of one woman at an inn only open during holiday seasons, we enjoy good old-fashioned songs, including Bing Crosby's White Christmas.
8. The Muppet Christmas Carol
A retelling of the well known Dickens novel, including a rather more furry cast. We follow Gonzo as Charles Dickens and Rizzo the Rat as the story is played out with Michael Caine as the ill-disposed Ebenezer Scrooge.
Who doesn't like a traditional tale with musical numbers by singing puppets?
7. White Christmas
We follow a performing duo and sister-act, whom fall in love whilst working together to save the Vermont Inn from closure.
With the dulcet tones of Bing Crosby and the infamous White Christmas, the song selection in this 'old Hollywood' musical will have you feeling ready for Christmas in all the right ways.
6. Home Alone
When eight-year-old Kevin McCallister is accidentally left behind from his family Christmas vacation, he must take the reins in protecting his home from the 'wet bandits'. Cunningly planting traps and with the help of his next door neighbour, Kevin foils the crooks and saves Christmas.
5. Love Actually
The interlinked love stories of eight different couples on the run up to Christmas. A man in love with his best friends new wife. A new prime minister falling for his sweet-natured Londoner assistant. The end of one marriage, becoming the start a new one. The potential infidelity of a boss with his much younger assistant breaks the heart of his loving wife. The sexual exploration of an Englishman in America leading to girlfriends for himself and his best friend. With the constant disruption of phone calls from a brother, the office romance that should be, ends quicker than it begins. The loss of a mother and wife sees the mourning stepfather and stepson finding love through the medium of drumming in the school Christmas production and the chance meeting of a supermodel. A different kind of love as an ageing singer realises his place is beside his manager and not in the fickle world of entertainment.
4. The Snowman, and The Snowman and The Snowdog
What is the one thing all children wish to build when the snow finally falls? The perfect snowman. One year a young boy gets more than he expected when his snowman comes to life. Flying across the world together, the pair enjoy a snowman party, even getting to meet Father Christmas. Sadly, when the morning comes all that is left of the magical pal is a pile of melted snow.
Many years have passed and a new young boy is living in the house. The snow falls once again and this time he builds a snowdog too, to help with the healing of having lost his own canine best friend. Once again magic fills the night and the boy flies across the skies with the snowman and his snowdog. Unlike the first time round, this film ends with the joy as the snowdog shakes away its frosty coat to become a real dog.
The general sweet nature of these short films brings joy to all families of any age.
3. Father Christmas
Every year Father Christmas receives many letters from children asking for something for Christmas. It's a lot of work and he needs a holiday. Travelling around the world, enjoying the delights of each country he visits, Father Christmas soon realises it is time to return home to prepare for the next Christmas.
This short family film has been a part of my life since I was a small child. It's joyous Britishness brings a familiarity to the man in a red suit every child wishes to catch a glimpse of each year.
2. How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
With a heart 'two sizes too small' and living alone (bar for his canine companion Max) high on Mount Crumpit, the Grinch looks down on the town of Whoville and its jovial residents with disdain. One year he chooses to get his revenge by stealing Christmas. Through the unlikely friendship of little Cindy Lou Who, the Grinch repents and joins in the festivities as his heart begins to grow.
This film has a personal significance for me, as during my time as a childminder I watched this movie more than a dozen times with a child who holds a special place in my heart. Watching this each year reminds me of my time with her and how much she resembles Cindy Lou, button nose and all.
1. The Nightmare Before Christmas
Jack Skellington, the king of Halloween Town feels it is time for something new, something different, and after discovering the bright delights of Christmas Town takes it upon himself to give Santa a night off. Halloween serves up Christmas in a gruesome fashion much to the dismay of the world. With the burning of Jack's sleigh and the defeat of Oogie boogie, Santa is able to take his rightful place, bringing back Christmas to all.
The Disney film 'too dark for kids' is my favourite film for any time of year. I first engaged in the wonders of Halloween Town during the Christmas holidays when I was too young for it. Jack Skellington and Mr Oogie Boogie lit a fire within me that still burns to this day. My love of Tim Burton movies has never waned.