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Five Christmas films to add to your holiday movie lineup this year

By Summer Lane

Photo: Deposit

Everybody has a few Christmas traditions (and if you don’t, get on that, stat!), and one of ours growing up was gathering in the living room and watching a cozy Christmas movie together!

We had a few mainstay films, and as I’ve grown up and started my own family, I have chosen to carry some of those traditions onward – and start a few new ones in the process!

Whether you carry on the tradition of Santa Claus in your household or not has no bearing on some of the Christmas film classics like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” or “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” They are still wholesome, family-friendly movies that teach good moral lessons about generosity and the warmth of the holiday spirit. We watched everything from “Singin’ in the Rain” to “Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas,” and each movie got us kiddos hyped for the big day!

Here are five of my favorite family-friendly films and the lessons that they teach.

Miracle on 34th Street

A classic! Starring Maureen O’Hara and a very young Natalie Wood, it tells the heartwarming story of a single mother and her daughter who meet and take in a man who believes himself to be Santa Claus. Is he or isn’t he? Released in 1947, it’s a touching story of Christmas warmth, kindness, love, and charity. We used to watch it every year on Thanksgiving Day!

The Sound of Music

I also have a pointed memory of watching The Sound of Music during the Thanksgiving weekend, and that was a huge deal, because we had to pull out the dual-VHS set (you remember: the kind where you had to switch to the second tape after the intermission!). The film starred Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, and it is filled with some of the most iconic musical tunes of all time – plus, it tells a beautiful story of resistance against Nazi tyranny within the beautiful Austrian culture. Lessons taught: love, courage, family values.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Who doesn’t love this one? It was released in 1964, and while the puppeteering might seem a little old-fashioned to our CGI-saturated minds, it was the height of tech back in the day! The music is still as catchy as ever, and my daughter LOVES watching it every year. It tells the classic tale of Rudolph, who was shunned and bullied by his fellow reindeer because of his red, glowing nose. But hey – what made him different was what made him a hero, in the end! It teaches good, solid lessons about treating others with respect, even if they’re a little different! Also…who doesn’t love Burl Ives?

The Small One

I was a little late to the game on this one. I remember watching it as a kid, but I rediscovered it last year with my daughter. It moved me to tears (many, many tears – ha!). It was released in 1978 and is only 26 minutes long, but it follows the fictional tale of a young boy and his elderly but beloved donkey and friend, “Small One,” as he is forced to take him to market and sell him for his father just outside of Nazareth. Eventually, the donkey is sold to a man named Joseph. He, along with his wife, Mary, are both going on a journey to Bethlehem…! It’s such a special and sweet story that focuses on the reason for the season: the birth of Jesus Christ!

It’s a Wonderful Life

This was traditionally our Christmas Eve movie until I moved out of my parent’s home, and is there any movie that even comes close to the power and depth of Jimmy Stewart’s performance as George Bailey? He portrays a young man whose dreams continually slip away as he gets stuck in a cycle of small-town living and financial demands while the people around him seem to travel, make it big, and have all the excitement. He gets a chance to see what the world would be like without him on a snowy Christmas night, and the rest is history. The film is powerful and illustrates the importance of each and every life. “Here’s to my big brother, George,” his brother says at the end of the film. “The richest man in town.” Every year, it makes me cry happy tears. Don’t miss out on this incredible 1946 film.

A Note on other films:

What are YOUR favorite family-friendly Christmas movies? Let us know! I personally LOVE to watch “Home Alone,” but I also don’t think it teaches good behavior or values for kids. Seriously – Kevin’s attitude in the film is AWFUL. In all things, we have to lean on a little discernment when it comes to deciding what our children will be watching this Christmas season. “Die Hard,” for example, is one of my dad’s favorite “Christmas” movies (HA), but it’s definitely NOT for kids! I also have my issues with “Jingle Bell Rock” and a couple of other “popular” Christmas films. It’s up to us, as parents, to decide where the threshold is in our homes. Choose wisely and remember…have fun! 



Summer Lane is the #1 bestselling author of 30 books, including the hit Collapse Series and Resurrection Series. She is an experienced journalist and columnist who reports on news within the U.S. and abroad. She is the Associate Editor for Right Side Broadcasting Network. Additionally, she analyzes politics and policies on The Write Revolution.

Summer is also a mom and wife who enjoys rural country living, herding cats, and gardening. She is passionate about writing on women’s issues, parenting, and politics from a theologically-grounded perspective that points readers to the good news of the gospel.

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