Ashley’s Christmas Favorites

It was pretty tough in the end, trying to decide whether or not I should write about Elf as my favorite Christmas movie, but in the end it wasn’t really a contest. Elf is a fabulous movie (“I love smiling! Smiling’s my favorite!”) and every time it’s on I can’t stop myself from watching, but it’s on a LOT. Plus, it’s a youngster in comparison to Mr. Grinch, who this year is celebrating his 43rd birthday. Because of course that’s my favorite, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966). Not that damn Jim Carrey one, which I refuse to see, but the one directed by Chuck Jones, written by Dr. Seuss and with music composed by Albert Hague.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is a twenty-five minute masterpiece. The music and the animation are simple and effective. The classic moments, like when the Grinch’s heart grows three sizes, or when he carves the roast beast, are permanently etched in the zeitgeist. As an added bonus, it rhymes and it’s narrated by Boris Karloff, who is a bad ass.

The Grinch hated Christmas,
The whole Christmas season,
Please don’t ask why, no one quite knows the reason.
It could be perhaps that his shoes were too tight,
It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right.
But I think the most likely reason of all,
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.
But whatever the reason, his heart or his shoes,
He stood there on Christmas Eve hating The Whos.

And of course, the most important part is that it teaches you the importance of learning not to be an asshole. If you’re a kid, it’s a pretty simple lesson. And if you’re a grown up, then if you listen really hard you can hear it telling you to pull your head out of your ass. It’s really very magical, and it has an attitude, which endears it to me on a very deep, personal level. But probably we can also sum up my feelings for this tiny film with one quote:

“The three words that best describe you are as follows and I quote: stink, stank, STUNK.”

That lyric comes from one of the best songs ever written, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” The descriptive power of this song is unrivaled. It is full of disgusting images that are also hilarious. It is catchy and juvenile, yet poignant. On the downside, it’s very frustrating to try and sing this song if you are a tiny female because there is no way that you will ever come close to emulating Thurl Ravenscroft’s fabulous mega-baritone. Observe:

But I think mostly the reason that I love How the Grinch Stole Christmas! so much is because there’s always been a little bit of The Grinch inside of me. At times, the phrase “cuddly as a cactus” has been known to apply. I mean, there’s a reason that my mom giggled like a maniac after giving me a pair of Grumpy pajama pants for Christmas a couple years ago. “Grumpy! Get it, Ash?” she said, and she laughed and laughed. And I’m sure there’s a Grinch somewhere inside of you (but not like that) as well.

It started in low, then it started to grow . . .

And the Grinch with his Grinch feet ice cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling, “How could it be so?”

And what happened then? Well in Whoville they say
That the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day.

– – –

The TV part of this almost killed me. There are like, one thousand million episodes of TV that feature Christmas in a prominent fashion. I know I forgot some, and maybe I’ll remember in a couple of days and wish I’d posted about that episode instead, but for now, my choice is firm. I’ll admit that I was very close to choosing “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas” from The X-Files, “An Echolls Family Christmas” from Veronica Mars (you can watch it for free online!), and “Christmas Party” from The Office. But in the end, I have to cheat. I can’t just pick one. I am greedy and need two.

The first of these two of course, is “The Man in the Fallout Shelter” from the first season of Bones, which you can watch for free for the next two weeks on Hulu.

“Booth, will you escort Angela to the Christmas party and make sure that she doesn’t photocopy her butt?”

“Well, nothing brings people together like a Christmas lung fungus.”

“Although I believe organized religion is just another political movement designed to control the masses, that doesn’t mean God doesn’t love me.”

“Ok. You people listen to me. There is a party going on upstairs, ‘kay? A Christmas party. We’re going up there. We’re gonna talk to some people, we’re gonna sing some carols, we’re gonna drink some eggnog. (To Booth) You are going to kiss me under the mistletoe. On the lips. (To Hodgins and Zack) I might kiss you guys under the mistletoe, too. (To Brennan) Maybe even you, in a festive, non-lesbian manner. But we are going to that party.”

This episode not only marks the moment I fell in love with the show, but obviously, is one of the greatest episodes of Christmas television ever produced. The character moments in this episode are fabulous, and because all of our Squints and Booth are stuck in one place together (Valley Fever quarantine!), we get to know them and they get to know each other like no episode had yet in the series. We learn that Booth has a son, that Brennan’s parents disappeared when she was fifteen, that Angela’s dad is that famous guy from ZZ Top. And then there’s the romance of the murder mystery. Not to mention this:

It is a perfect episode, from beginning to end. It’s funny and sad at the same time. It feels like Christmas.

And then there was Buffy. I couldn’t choose, you guys. I really couldn’t. It’s probably not a coincidence, either, that both of these episodes prominently feature the appearance of one David Boreanaz. But maybe it is, because both of them are awesome for other reasons. Because the other episode that I couldn’t live without is “Amends (A Buffy Christmas)” from the third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The only thing bad about this episode is that Buffy is sporting the most awful hair in the entirety of the show’s run. I wish the WB weren’t such sticklers about YouTube clips. This is the only thing I could find about the episode: a cheesy commercial from 1999. And it’s really hard to explain, but basically Angel was a VERY BAD BOY before he had soul and this demon called The First comes to Sunnydale to take advantage. It makes Angel feel so guilty about his past crimes that Angel is about to kill himself. He goes up to the highest hill and waits for the sun to rise. Even Buffy can’t persuade him to come down. But then,  a magical thing happens: the sun doesn’t rise.

Angel: It told me to kill you. You were in the dream. You know. It told me to lose my soul with you, and become a monster again.
Buffy: I know what it told you. What does it matter?
Angel: Because I wanted to! Because I want you so badly. I want to take comfort in you, and I know it will cost me my soul. And part of my doesn’t care. I’m weak, I’ve never been anything else. It’s not the demon in me that needs killing Buffy. It’s the man.

Buffy: Angel, you have the power to do real good, to make amends. But if you die now, then all that you ever were was a monster.

And I guess somebody up there agrees, because it begins to snow in Sunnydale, California, something it has never done before. And everyone wakes up and looks at it in awe, and Buffy and Angel walk hand in hand through the town. Everything’s going to be okay. So mostly I had to pick this episode because it’s so wonderful that it makes me cry.

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