My kids are super-sensitive to what they see on the screen: none of them, from the oldest to the youngest, are comfortable with much in the way of conflict or plot tension. I’m not sure if this is because of what we’ve done right as parents, what we’ve done wrong, or because that’s just the way they are. I suspect it’s the latter.
That takes many of the “classic” Christmas movies off the table. There’s no way we’re watching A Christmas Carol (ghosts!) or Rudolph (the abominable snowman!). Silas thinks the Grinch is a monster and Jack is baffled by the slapstick comedy in A Christmas Story.
I suspect we’re not the only ones who struggle with finding holiday movies that actually work for our family. Here are the movies we can enjoy together–without tears or nightmares.
Our absolute favorite is The Snowman, based on the gorgeous Raymond Briggs picture book. This 27 minute film is completely charming (and features an introduction by David Bowie that’s fun for the grown-ups). It’s hard to find, but it’s worth tracking down a copy.
I just found out about The Snowman & the Snowdog, a Snowman sequel that just came out last year. We haven’t seen it yet, but based on our love for The Snowman and the excellent reviews, we just ordered a copy for Silas’s stocking.
We all like A Charlie Brown Christmas (although the kids are awfully mean to each other!) My kids prefer the flip side, It’s Christmas Time Again, Charlie Brown, and the mini-documentary on the making of the classic is also worth watching.)
I don’t know why The Sound of Music is a holiday movie, but we all love watching it this time of year. We can watch 95% of the film with no scared children, but we do keep one hand on the remote during the climax with the Nazis.
Elf delights three of our kids, but one child hates the ending and is really uncomfortable with Buddy’s over-the-top comedy.
Our oldest three love watching–and dancing to–The Nutcracker. This DVD version is by the New York City Ballet.
We found Samantha: An American Girl Holiday when browsing Christmas movies we could stream with Amazon Prime, and it was so much better than I expected. Silas didn’t care, but the older three loved it. (It’s not exactly a holiday movie, except that it ends on Christmas Day.)
We watch The Polar Express for the train parts (and the hot chocolate scene, our favorite) but do enough fast-forwarding though the middle that we finish this 90-minute movie in 45.
Films we tried that bombed:
My kids eyes glazed over when we tried Miracle on 34th Street. Maybe next year?
I had high hopes for the animated short Yes Virginia: The Film, but my kids’ reaction was “all those people were really mean.”
Jim Henson’s 1977 special Emmett Otter’s Jugband Christmas wasn’t scary, but my kids thought it was boring.
Films we want to watch soon:
(These got added to the list after you all recommended them over on the MMD facebook page. Thanks!)
I never would have found this on by own, but Eloise at Christmastime features Julie Andrews, has great reviews, and is just $5.
Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas might be sweet and silly for Silas and Lucy.
The older kids may like The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, the Walton family holiday special that led to the creation of the tv series.