For those who don’t celebrate or aren’t “dashing through the snow” to visit family on Christmas Day, there is always the old standby of Chinese food—or Indian food—and a movie.
You can always brave the movie theaters — the American version of "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" opens Christmas week — but if you’d rather hunker down with takeout and Netflix, and still keep a little of the seasonal spirit (don’t expect much of that from "Dragon Tattoo"), there are so many holiday movies to choose from.
The problem with so many of the classics though is that while they are feel-good movies, they can also derail into the maudlin. The Frank Capra classic, "It’s a Wonderful Life" especially straddles that knife edge.
But here’s an idea — like a richly cooked meal, the holiday classics should be paired with a fine wine — or a humorous movie — to banish the treacle. So here are some suggestions for “holiday pairings.”
"It’s a Wonderful Life" (1946): Heartwarming tale about George Bailey, a man who discovers that he has the most valuable gift of all — family and friends.
Treacle Factor: Where do I begin? First by sending a memo to George Bailey: Why would you trust your chronically absent-minded uncle with $8,000 in cash? And then sending one to Frank Capra: Librarian is not the worst fate that spinster Mary Hatch could suffer. Really. Get her a pair of hipster specs, a better haircut, and an invitation to a poetry slam. She’ll have no trouble finding a date.
Pairing: "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (1966). Why it works: Because Whoville is really Bedford Falls; the Grinch is a Mr. Potter who becomes a George Bailey, and because you can sing the Grinch song along with the soundtrack.
"Miracle on 34th Street" (1947): A cynical little girl learns that there really is a Santa Claus and that retail giant Macy’s wasn’t in a competition to the death with Gimbel’s.
Treacle Factor: The extremely deadpan and very young Natalie Wood epitomizes “creepy cute child star.”
Pairing: "A Christmas Story" (1983): Why it works: Because it shows what a “traditional Christmas” really is all about, and because you could never get a fishnet-stockinged leg lamp at Macy’s — or Gimbels.
"A Christmas Carol" (numerous versions available): A cynical old miser learns how to keep Christmas in his heart all year round, after a visit from some very strange midnight phantoms.
Treacle Factor: The entire Cratchit family, but most especially Tiny Tim.
Pairing: "The Life of Brian" (1979): Why it works: Charles Dickens and the Monty Python troupe are all Brits. There are three wise men and three ghosts. Good things come in threes.
If none of these suggested pairings tempt you, why there is always "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." But the only Christmasy thing about the film is that it is set in Sweden where it is cold and wintry this time of year.