Ring in the season with these festive picks to get you in the holiday spirit

Note: I originally started writing this piece in 2019 when I was A&C Editor, but I needed the year to take some time to think about what I wrote, reflect on it and then do some more rewrites. After a year-long process, this is what I’ve come up with. 

I was born the day after Christmas. There I was, fresh out of the womb and already wearing a Santa hat thanks to some festive nurses. Was I adorable? Yes. Was it necessary? I’m not sure, but I do know that from the moment I was born, I’ve been surrounded by the warmth of the holidays. 

[/media-credit] Photo of newborn Andrew, December 26, 1999

I grew up always looking forward to the holiday season and watching my favourite Christmas movies at home. Over the years, I’ve found that important lessons from these movies have shaped my outlook on life, not only during the holiday season but all year round. 

I can’t quite pinpoint what it is about this specific genre of movie, but something about them really resonates with me. Perhaps it’s the nostalgic joy that comes from movies I grew up with, or perhaps it’s the optimism that inherently comes with Christmas movies. It was no easy task to narrow down this list of movies; however, I believe these three that I’ve chosen contain values that encapsulate who I am.

No matter how much time passes, The Year Without A Santa Claus always sticks out to me. The stop-motion film explores what would happen if Santa Claus got sick and couldn’t do Christmas anymore — and subsequently shows Santa getting better because others filled his shoes.

This movie taught me that Christmas is more than just presents and it’s for this reason that it’s kicking off my list. It’s a movie that’s ultimately about a community coming together — a principle that resonates with me throughout the entire year. Although I’m not helping a jolly old man deliver presents across the world, I do try to make myself available when I can to help others, to help foster connections with the end goal of building community, regardless of what that may entail. Whether it's the community that I am building through the Silhouette, or amongst my friends or my family, these connections are as important to me as they were to Santa in the film.

"Whether it's the community that I am building through the Silhouette, or amongst my friends or my family, these connections are as important to me as they were to Santa in the film."

On the other hand, Disney's The Santa Clause 2 sparked my vivid imagination as in childhood. It visualized the North Pole in a way that I can only describe as magic. I can watch this movie again and again, bawling my eyes out every single time due to the romantic nature of a plotline wherein Santa tries to regain his quickly disappearing magic by finding a Mrs. Claus (which, in itself, likely stems from my desire for a Christmas wedding).

While it is truly one of the most magical movies I have seen (sorry, Harry Potter), I love how it integrates the idea that there is magic all around us. We just need to look around to find it. I try to carry that idea with me day to day. That is probably the most Disney-esque thing I’ve ever said, but I truly believe that we have the ability to make everything magical, and it ultimately depends on how we tackle the situation. Having an optimistic outlook and putting your energy into making each and every moment special — that’s magical. That’s what Santa did in this movie and it’s something that I also try to do every day. 

"Having an optimistic outlook and putting your energy into making each and every moment special — that’s magical."

Although these films will always inspire holiday nostalgia, the third movie in this list, Christmas With the Kranks, is my favourite movie of all time. It has taught me life lessons that I will always carry with me.

In the film, the titular Krank family tries to skip Christmas altogether for a tropical cruise but get caught up in their town's festivities and their daughter's unsuspected visit. They eventually realize that there is no greater joy than spending time with loved ones and that going the extra mile (or staying home, something we can all relate to this year) is always worth it.

The values that I learned from this movie are probably the easiest to see throughout the year. For me, my family and my friends are the most important thing and I’d do absolutely anything for them. I’m typically known to drop what I’m doing if someone asks me to do something, just as the Kranks did when they found out their daughter was coming home for Christmas. 

[/media-credit] Baby Andrew did not like Santa Claus

The lessons learned from these movies aren’t just central to how I live my life, but I believe that they are important for everyone. The Year Without a Santa Claus teaches us that community is important. The Santa Clause 2 shows that you can live every moment with a little bit of magic, regardless if things seem to be piling up on your plate. Having a forward-looking, optimistic approach will shift your mindset and enable you to tackle the hurdles in your path.

Finally, Christmas With The Kranks teaches the importance of family, whether they’re directly related to you, or whether they’re your chosen family. I think that especially during a year in which we’ve all had hurdles and have been cut off from those that we love, these three lessons give us hope to keep pushing forward. These lessons are not just the plot of Andrew’s favourite holiday movies; they can also be tools to use in shaping how we perceive our future.

[media-credit name="C/O Sasha Mrozowski" align="none" width="388"][/media-credit]

Christmas is so central to everything I do in my life, not just because I was born right next to it, but because I truly believe that the values I learned from this season and its movies have helped mold me into the person I am today. For me, every day is Christmas. Yes, you can apply these messages to only the winter months, but the real joy is integrating them throughout the year. That’s where the real magic is. 

"That’s where the real magic is."

To some, this might just be a list of holiday movies. To me, it’s a list of challenges continuously pushing me to be better and to remind me that there is always time for me to spend with my loved ones. There is always something to celebrate. There is always time to create a little magic in the world.

[/media-credit] My last photo with Santa in first-year

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