It’s almost Christmas and that means baking cookies, holiday shopping, and watching tons and tons of television. (OK, Netflix.) Now, if you’ll notice, many holiday movies follow a certain formula, utilizing the same old bits over and over again because they’ve worked before. Sometimes it’s done well, while other times it just makes the movies kind of stale and predictable. I’d like to say I’ve watched a fair amount of movies about Christmas over the years. I’ve seen the usual, traditional Christmas classics, like It’s A Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story. I’ve watched animated classics such as A Charlie Brown Christmas and Mickey’s Christmas Carol. I’ve indulged in festive romances like Love Actually and The Family Man. I’ve even sat audience for winter horror favorites like Dead Snow (seriously one of the greatest zombie films of all time).
While I’ve loved each and every one of these, I’ve also noticed that they tend to portray a Christmas that is nothing at all like the ones I’ve experienced. It’s like these films decided that there’s a certain way to do Christmas, and many, if not most, of us are not doing it right at all. So I’ve compiled a list of some of the more rampant holiday tropes and traditions we see in our favorite Christmas flicks and compared them to what Christmas is actually like for me. Here are the results:
Where The Hell Are The Carolers?!
Maybe it’s because I live in Florida, but I think in my entire life I’ve only witnessed one group of carolers, and that was at a high school holiday concert. But people coming to my door to sing about things like figgy pudding? Nope, that’s never happened. More than that, I think if anyone did try to do that, it would confuse the living hell out of folks. Most people would probably not answer their doors, and being in Florida, there’s a good chance some might end up looking down the barrel of a shotgun while being asked to leave the premises.
Does Anyone Actually Go On A Sleigh Ride?
I remember watching the Gilmore Girls episode where they host a Bracebridge Dinner (it was kind of a holiday-ish episode) and then everyone goes out for a sleigh ride. What the hell? Does this actually happen in beautiful, small Connecticut towns or is this all a lie? Obviously, being in Florida, I will never know what it’s like to go on a sleigh ride in the snow, but a quick Google search led me to a place that does sleigh rides in Wisconsin, so I guess it’s not wholly fictional.
Are Dads The Only Ones Ever Putting Up Holiday Lights (And Do They Always Suck At It)?
OK, if the first image in your head wasn’t Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) putting up the lights in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, I can’t, as the kids say, “even.” Seriously, though. Growing up, it was always both my parents putting holiday lights up (and as I got older, usually just me and my mom). This year, I put the lights on our tree all on my own. We don’t do outdoor lights but if we did, I don’t know that I would always leave it all up to my husband. And then in movies, the “goofy dad” always ends up somehow getting all strung up in the lights, too. When the hell does this happen? Maybe my sense of humor is just dwindling...
Neighbors (Or Strangers In General) All Getting Together For The Common Good
It seems like many movies end up finding random strangers banding together to help someone (maybe the someone is trying to find their long lost love or maybe they’re just trying to get the perfect gift for their kid). But does this happen in real life? Ever? My few social interactions with strangers are either of the customer service variety or of the sitting at the bar variety. The rest of the time, most folks just kind of ignore one another, even on Christmas.
All The Christmas Gifts Being Beautifully Wrapped Weeks Before Christmas, All Tucked Perfectly Under The Tree
C’mon, y’all, seriously? You wrap ALL your gifts right after Thanksgiving and have them looking picture perfect for Christmas Eve under the tree? I can’t be the only one staying up till 4 a.m. wrapping gifts for friends and family while hiding out in a closet or bathroom so no one sees what I’m up to (and also because everyone else took all the other, larger rooms to wrap their own gifts). I don’t believe it for a second.
People Being Eternally Kind To Homeless People
I wish that this one were true, but I doubt it is for most people. You might remember little Kevin McCallister sneaking off on Christmas morning to give the old bird woman in Central Park a ceramic turtle dove so she knew they would be best friends forever (Home Alone 2). It was a sweet gesture by an overly-optimistic little kid but do you know any kids that have done this in reality? Would you be totally cool with your kid wandering off on their own to hang out with a homeless stranger (or any stranger, really)? Pretty sure most people are too busy opening up brand new Xboxes to actually go spend time with someone in need.
Giving Someone Fruitcake As A Gift
Why on earth would anyone buy a fruitcake, much less give it to someone else as a gift? This is a running gag in Mixed Nuts (one of my personal fave holiday flicks) and while it’s funny in the film, you have to wonder who is even buying these things, much less giving them to others for the holiday. I actually bought one several years ago, then gave it to someone as a gift, and it exchanged a few hands after that. I don’t think anyone ate it, but it did get used as a doorstop at one point.
Someone “Bad” Getting Coal (In Their Stocking Or Otherwise)
In one of the Rugrats Christmas specials, Angelica (who is obviously the worst toddler ever) gets a new Cynthia dollhouse from Santa. But within her dollhouse, there also happens to be a very teensy little lump of coal meant just for her (to remind her to stay on track and quit being a jerk to the other babies). Now, I’ve seen fake coal in little bags at the dollar store around this time of year, but seriously. Has anyone been that awful a parent as to not give their kid any gifts and instead put coal in their stocking and say, “better luck next year”? Because that’s some cold-hearted stuff right there.
Leaving Milk And Cookies Out For Santa
Personally, this could not ever happen in my current household as ants would end up getting all over it before “Santa” ever got there. But do kids actually do this? I remember being a child and wanting to leave some one year but it didn’t make much sense to my folks (who didn’t grow up with stories of Santa). At the same time, I kind of wouldn’t mind introducing this tradition to my own kid, but letting him know that Santa actually prefers vanilla soymilk these days.
Lousy People Realizing They’re Lousy And Suddenly Becoming Wonderful
It happened to Scrooge and it happened to Nick Cage in The Family Man and it's surely happened in other films. Someone is kind of a crappy person but because of the holiday (and because they’re visited by ghosts or some other mystical, magical thing), they realize the error of their ways and suddenly we’re expected to believe they are now great, upstanding citizens. I don’t buy it. All the lousy folks I’ve known haven’t had a major change of heart due to Christmas (though it would be nice). I call shenanigans on this one.
Kissing Underneath The Mistletoe
I bought some fake mistletoe once. We hung it on our ceiling with a piece of scotch tape. It was a nice excuse to kiss my then-boyfriend. But that’s literally the only time I’ve ever seen it, or seen it used. And honestly, it’s a bit of a creepy tradition anyway, isn’t it? At the very least, ask if you can kiss under the mistletoe first. All I want for Christmas is consent, baby.
An All-White Christmas
This is kind of a play on words here. On the one hand, I’m talking about the traditional “white Christmas” of waking up to a world covered in powdery, white snow. Again, being from Florida, that’s never going to happen here. But from what I’ve heard from friends up north, it’s not always a guarantee elsewhere, either. In fact, it tends to snow more in January in most places than it does around Christmas.
The second thing I mean, of course, is the damn whiteness of holiday movie casts. Seriously, where are all the black folk? The latinxs? The asians? Off the top of my head, I can probably only name a handful of POC that were cast in holiday films. Could we do a little better with the diversity? I mean, it’s about to be freaking 2016 and my Christmas is nowhere near that white. I’m going to add to what I said last time. So I guess all I want for Christmas is consent and diverse representation in films.