Classic movies evoke holiday memories

The first time sophomore Matthew M. saw The Polar Express was at his aunt’s house one Christmas Eve. The memory is a vivid one: the cold of the day, Matthew’s entire family around him, and the enchanting story of a boy whose belief in miracles is restored by a magical train ride to the North Pole. In the boy, Marquez saw himself.

“The protagonist had the same dream, the same wants,” he said. “Ever since, I’ve always wanted to ride a train through the middle of a forest.”

Matthew’s fondness for a children’s movie is not atypical. For many students, the holiday season wouldn’t be complete without classic Christmas films. Movies like How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the Home Alone trilogy, and The Polar Express are winter traditions, bringing families together, teaching lessons and framing childhood memories.

What makes a movie a classic, Matthew says, is that “it’s something new and it worked. The director broke boundaries and it worked. It’s revolutionary.”

Junior Jose R.  likes the moral in his favorite movie.

“I like Home Alone 2 because of how new a concept the movie was. It taught me that no matter how much money you have or don’t have, what really matters is how united the family is,” Jose said.

Junior Annabelle C. likes the first Home Alone movie for a different reason. 

“This little kid just does all this insane stuff,” said Annabelle.  “I remember I tried reenacting some of the stuff he did.”

Adults also enjoy Christmas classics.

“When all those old, old shows come on, it just throws me back to childhood. It’s funny to watch because back then the animation was so basic,” English teacher Kathleen Harrison said.

Even so, there are other ways that a Christmas movie can impact a person’s life more than just childhood reminiscences.

“[I liked] How the Grinch stole Christmas and the reason being it scared me as a child. But it helped me as I grew older because it revealed to me that he [Dr. Seuss] was an amazing person and a great writer,” senior Vince Allanigue said. “It helped me with English assignments and it opened my mind.”

Annabelle considers Christmas movies as a way to connect with the younger generation.

“It’s something you can take with you and show your kids. It lets you pass down something.”

But although most classic Christmas movies are decades old, some more recent movies have made an impression on students and may become classics later.

Senior Janique A. believes Happy Feet could become a classic.

“It’s about sharing gifts because of how that penguin taught others how to dance,” Janique said. “It talks about family and acceptance.”

Matthew believes that classics are all about expressing the Christmas experience.

“It has to have a heartfelt plot,” he said, “and show the true meaning of what Christmas is: giving, family, love.”