Now, as much as family can drive us absolutely bonkers, there are times when they pull through for us. Granted, those times may be rare and far between, but if we can forgive the small idiosyncrasies at any time of year, now is as a good a time as any.
And so, in the spirit of those times when family manages to not make us head for the closest liquor cabinet (or room with a locking door), we’re here to suggest a few films that might make you feel a little more sympathetic toward your own relatives.
Movies are presented in no particular order, and trailers and/or blurbs may contain spoilers.
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
This one, in particular, is Kerry’s favorite. (I think I got a little burned out on it when it was on TV about five times between Thanksgiving and Christmas for several years.) But it’s not a classic for no reason: George Bailey finds, when he’s lost all reason to hope, that he’s always had everything he needs as long as he has his family around him.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
Sure, there’s a love story, a mystery in need of solving, an more dead bodies than you can shake a stick at, but at it’s heart, this is a story about learning that the family you choose is sometimes better than the one into which you’re born. Of course, the heart of this story is buried under gun fights and an awful lot of swearing, but it’s there, if you take the time to look.
Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006)
Appearances by the Tooth Fairy, Cupid, and Mother Nature aside – and an incredibly contrived plot – aside, the final chapter of this Disney trilogy manages to sell the importance of family. If The Santa Clause was the story of Scott Calvin learning to be the man his son always knew he could be; and its sequel was the story of him learning to be the man he never knew he could be, then the final movie is the story of choosing the life you have, awkward family, overwhelming responsibilities, and all, not simply living with the hand you’re dealt.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
This one’s a classic of “Christmas magic,” but it’s as much about the families we choose as it is magic. And if you have to choose a surrogate grandfather, who better than Santa Clause himself?
Home Alone (1990)
As fun as it might be to finally have the house to yourself, there’s something to be said for being so grateful to see your family again that you’re willing to overlook their absurdities.
Yours, Mine and Ours (1968)
It might be cheating a little to call this one a holiday movie, but in this precursor to The Brady Bunch, it’s the family’s first Christmas together when they learn to put aside their differences. If nothing else, it will make you grateful that you don’t have to share a bathroom this holiday with 18 other people.
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
Only two years before It’s a Wonderful Life, Vincent Minnelli directed a film about what happens when a family is forced to choose between what they’ve always known and facing an unknown future. Granted, it’s a musical, so the angsty decision making is set to song, but if you can make it through ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ without getting a little misty, you may be a robot.
Do you have a holiday movie that restores your faith in family and the decency of humanity? Does your family have a holiday movie tradition? Hit us up in the comments below.