The day after Thanksgiving, my family puts “Elf” on our television on repeat for the entire rest of the weekend. We own it on DVD and our Apple TV, too, just in case. If I had to, I could recite the entire thing to you from start to finish. I don’t even think it’s funny anymore, it’s just a tradition. Miraculously, after watching “Elf” for 48 hours straight, my excitement toward winter break kicks right into gear.
My usual grey sweatshirt and sweatpants turn into festive red dresses. My usual hatred for making eye contact on Blue Buses turns into easy small talk and new friends. My actual friends usually line the halls of the Walgreen Drama Center with complaints of how dry the weather is, but in December they also cheerfully hum Christmas tunes while still complaining.
The holidays are a time for happiness and cheer, and every single movie pertaining to the season tells me so. Even the trashiest Hallmark movie helps guide us in the direction of general merriment. Last Wednesday, I was dead tired from six hours of tech rehearsal and a full day of classes. I saw that the movie “Love Actually” was on television, and I sat wide awake, entranced for a full two and a half hours.
Even my vernacular is affected by these movies. When the month of December rolls around, you aren’t “upset,” you are “an angry elf.” You aren’t “dumb,” you are a “cotton-headed ninny muggins.” Anytime a friend leaves class, my immediate goodbye phrase is, “Bye Buddy, I hope you find your dad,” in full Mr. Narwhal voice, regardless of their gender. I know these are all “Elf” references, but Will Ferrell is just such a genius when it comes to comedy. At the very least, I crack myself up when choosing to use these phrases instead of the usual trendy Gen-Z phrase of the day.
Holiday movies sit with us so profoundly because they are possibly the only parts of our formative years that do not betray us later in life. I know that the new Netflix Christmas movie is probably awful, but I still press play while I do my laundry because I know exactly how it will make me feel: warm and fuzzy. I don’t know what kind of hypnotic magic they put in those plot lines, but holiday movies are addicting. The purity of the message in each movie allows us not only to have faith in our community, but also greater faith in humanity as a whole.
In the end, all we need during those last couple weeks of December is a little bit of a break and a charming story of the loved ones we share it with. As Buddy the Elf would say, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” Regardless of what you’re celebrating this winter break, I hope you spend time to sing and rejoice in the people you love.