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Brianne Johnson: A movie guide to living through the holidays

By Brianne Johnson, Daily Film Columnist
Published December 11, 2012

Forget boughs of holly and thread-bare stockings. This year, the halls are decked with scraps of paper, limp post-its, backs of business cards and edges torn from appointment notices.

’Tis the season of lists: wish lists, naughty lists, shopping lists, nice lists, to-do lists and lists of lists (like this one!). After all, on the first day of Christmas, my true love did provide a quantitative summary of every gift he’d planned to give for the following 11 days. Why not keep with tradition?

But wait, don’t go! From the bottom of my jolly heart, I promise that this is not the “Best of Politically Correct Holiday Movies” or the “Must-see Overrated ABC Family Specials of the Next 25 Weeknights.” Feel free to peek into my mittens: no fingers crossed.

Rather, I present a list that is like the fruitcake of lists. Sure, you groan now. But, freed from the stigma of lists — and cliché pastries — it’s original in its own way (like a Lifetime movie). I mean, how often is a hunk of fruitcake served with Gram’s yams? Folded in tin foil by a clueless relative? Exactly. Appreciate this list, like fruitcake, for its rarity … if not for its at-least-you-tried ambition.

Come Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen! Strap into those North Faces, here we go! Allow me to introduce the only list you’ll need this season: Five ways to make the most of your winter break, inspired by the best — and the worst — of holiday movies.

Reinvent yourself: One should die and reincarnate as something fun, flirty and/or heart-warming. Jack Frost did it. Ashley Benson did it (OK, so maybe “Christmas Cupid” isn’t a Pretty Little classic). Even Jesus did it, albeit fashionably months late. But death is exhausting. Who has time in that hectic holiday schedule to accompany Dante through nine circles of great-aunts with cameras slung across their bouncing bosoms, and pairs of matching reindeer antlers for the whole family? Take a note from Rudolph or the bearded and ballooning Tim Allen’s Saint Nick — embrace change. The New Year is all about the new; if you don’t plan to reinvent yourself as a talking snowman, what’s the point?

Spread the cheer: On the second day of Christmas, Hanukkah, Tuesday or laundry day, impose your personal holiday traditions and festivities (Cue sleigh bells! Enter ornaments!) on your hometown, regardless of its inhabitants’ religion, race, age, sex and animated stop-motion status. Like Jack Skellington of “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” you should strangle shingles with strings of bulbs, battle the bogeyman and his meddling, masked henchmen and do it all in a pin-stripe suit with the rag doll you love. Then, spend the remainder of your winter break brooding because your friends refuse to accept “Nightmare” as a viable holiday movie option. Proceed to steal Christmas à la “The Grinch,” and watch your friends cry like the ungrateful, little Whoville Whos that they are. So, spread the cheer … and then take it away!

Try something new: Dare a drunken friend to french a flagpole — or the side of a peppermint frappucino, if the task is too much. Oh, the cold! Oh, the laughter! Better yet, gather your closest mean girlfriends for the school talent show, slip into those sexy costumes and follow Lindsay Lohan’s lead as she belts out “Jingle Bell Rock.” You’re no Regina George, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

Change the world: Post “Elf” quotes to your Twitter feed until the spirit of Christmas is restored. Listen, times are tough at the North Pole. Glaciers are melting, Tim Allen is inching toward age 60 and 76 percent of elves’ jobs have been outsourced to China. Think of it as one small tweet for man, one giant leap for mythical, cultural icon-kind. You did it for KONY 2012 — now do it for Santa.

Set aside time for self-reflection: Maybe it’s the year to finally commit to quitting the corn cob pipe.


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