The other day, my friend was shocked to learn that I’d never seen any of those old stop-motion Christmas movies like “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
So, in one night, we vowed to watch all the Christmas movies.
We started with Rudolph, the story about the adorable little reindeer who is born with a red nose, which his embarrassed — but loving — parents insist he cover up, lest they be shamed by the community. The fake nose is uncomfortable for Rudolph, but his father reassures him by imparting such nuggets of wisdom like, “There are more important things than comfort. Self respect!”
Unfortunately, during a reindeer practice led by a coach who would make Bobby Knight look like Florence Nightingale, Rudolph’s fake nose falls off. The reindeer immediately recognize the usefulness of a teammate with a headlamp and take him into their fold and ... of course I’m kidding. He is forced to flee the North Pole with the town’s other outcast, an elf who’s shunned because he wants to be a dentist. (Which might be the reason North Poleians are known for their bad teeth).
The two encounter an older man and they all end up on an island of misfit toys whose population includes an elephant with spots and a ragdoll with depression.
Don’t worry. Santa eventually finds Rudolph useful.
Then we moved on to “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town,” where the story arc takes place in a village called Sombertown which is occupied by bad guys, who, judging by the accents and uniforms, are Germans. Their only mode of transportation is goosestep.
Toys are outlawed in Sombertown because, I’m guessing, Germans don’t like fun? Anyway, never fear, Kris Kringle comes into town. He tells the kids he watches them while they’re awake and while they sleep, and then he spreads toys while singing, “If you sit on my lap today, a kiss a toy is the price you’ll pay.” And the price is non-negotiable.
After the small children kiss the old man, he is run out of town by the Germans — er, I mean, Burgermeister Meisterburger. So like any misunderstood older man who loves children and toys, Kringle sneaks back in, breaks into houses and forces toys upon the townsfolk, with no concern that their children will end up in a dungeon. Because handing out toys is more important than child imprisonment.
Then we moved on to “Home Alone,” where there are no working phones, no flights and the cops don’t care about abandoned children in jeopardy. After one such abandoned child, Kevin, burns his face with after-shave and makes a pizza delivery boy think he’s about to be shot and killed, he overhears two burglars say they are going to break into his house at 9 p.m. True to the burglars’ guild, they arrive as the clock is striking nine. They remain steadfast to their mission, despite stepping on nails, burning their scalps and getting clobbered in the face by hot irons and paint cans.
The moral of the story, I assume, is if you’re going to rob a house, be tenacious.
Last was “Holiday Inn,” a 1942 classic about an inn that was only open on holidays. It was filled with familiar songs, like the debut of a ditty called “White Christmas,” and another song about Abraham Lincoln… which was performed in black face.
So, uh… these classics hold up well. Enjoy your own favorites this holiday season, and may your days be merry and bright!
Brodi Ashton is a New York Times best-selling author who lives in the Salt Lake City area. She’s also an occasional columnist for The Salt Lake Tribune.