Lights, Camera, Action

The following was written by Circulation Assistant, Ashley, and was featured in a recent edition of the O’Fallon Weekly.

It’s the Christmas, season and I’ve been thinking about holiday movies and books and what gives them staying power. I thought about it for a while. Every time a patron checks out a Christmas book, I think about it again.

Take A Christmas Story for example. If you haven’t seen it, a young boy wants nothing more than “an official Red Ryder BB gun with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time.” Over and over, he asks for this gift, and over and over he is told he’ll shoot his eye out. He finally gets his dream gift, breaks his glasses, eats duck, and falls asleep next to the best gift he would ever receive.

The story is based on a book by Jean Shepherd called In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash where he tells semiautobiographical stories from his childhood of struggles, hopes, dreams, and shenanigans.

I think what it ultimately comes down to is nostalgia. Even though I’ve never wanted a BB gun, I have feelings of nostalgia brought up when I watch that movie. It makes me think of how I felt as a kid at the anticipation of Christmas morning. As an adult, it makes me laugh about the car breaking down and the neighbor’s dogs eating the turkey. It makes me remember the other times I watched it too, like when they would play it on television for 24 hours. The boy’s father, “the old man”, reminds me of my stepdad, who coincidentally loved the movie and watched it whenever it was on.

I really think that’s probably why any of us read or reread things or settle in to certain genres; we just want to feel the same feeling. There is just something cuddly about a holiday movie or book. There’s something comforting about that familiar warmth I feel when I watch A Christmas Story or read A Christmas Carol. The escapism I find in media seems to be supercharged with holiday spirit from November through January.

While Christmas movies are pretty much a staple for those who celebrate, what makes the perfect Christmas movie is different for everyone. Some people like the funny ones, some like the animated ones, some like the black and white ones, and some like the chaos of a Die Hard Christmas. Whatever genre you pick, it’s really the season and those we share it with that make it stick. As they say in Christmas Vacation, “It’s all about the experience, Russ.”

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