Happy Friday Readers and welcome to the end of another week. This time of year features holidays for several religions, including the infamous Christmas, a holiday that is traditionally a religious observance for Christianity but is also celebrated across many secular and non secular households for the spirit of generosity and gift giving. What has become part of the Christmas tradition is the deluge every year of Christmas stories, from Hallmark movies and novels to Christmas themed films on every streaming platform. There are the Christmas romances, that heavily feature family drama, second chances, and at least one walk in falling snow. There are feel good holiday films that feature Santa in some capacity, lessons learned, and warm fuzzies for all. Sometimes it gets to be a little much, like eating too many cookies.
We love an unconventional Christmas story and to give you a break from the holiday sweetness, here are a few unconventional Christmas stories to explore (in book & film form)
Listen, you knew it would be here. Arguably one of the best Christmas movies out there, Die Hard follows the tradition of second chances and family drama, just with a lot more guns and explosions. The best detail I can give you about this time honored classic is that Die Hard never takes itself too seriously and that is why it is such a glorious experience. The original novel Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp might not have the same charisma as the Willis fueled performance, but the illustrated version penned by Doogie Horner is a definite recommend. And of course, if you happen to catch the film version on network television, hopefully you catch the version that edits John McClane's famous catch phrase to "Yippee Kay Yay Mr. Falcon."
There is a surprisingly dearth of holiday horror movies to choose from. I could do a whole post solely on Holiday Horror, from Krampus to Black Christmas, however for this list I chose Gremlins for a few reasons. The first, is I forgot how breath takingly awkward the human performances were in this movie. The second, this movie is tame enough to share with our monster loving nine year old and if you have a kid who loves monsters and horror, it's good clean fun. Lastly, this is the absolute epitome of parental gift giving disasters.
The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
For those of us who want a dose of high fantasy with their Christmas story, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe also falls on the intersectional of being a religious theme story as well as a high fantasy. Chronologically, the third or so book in the Chronicles of Narnia and the first published, the story follows the Penvensie Siblings who are sent to the country for safety during World War 2. While at the estate of Professor Kirke, they stumble upon a portal to Narnia in, you guessed it, the wardrobe and enter a world of snarky winter witches, judgmental allegoric Lions, Fauns with poor decision making skills, and a very sneaky Santa. Whether you read the novel or watch the movie, highly recommend for a true escape from reality.
The Nightmare before Christmas
The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of my absolute favorites stories. We watch and read it every year in this household. The visuals, the songs, the text we read in funny voices, everything about this experience has morphed into a Christmas tradition. Nightmare is the story of the King of Halloween who stumbles through a tree portal into another world, with a snarky winter with, a judgmental allegoric lion--wait, wait, no wrong portal.
Nightmare finds the King of Halloween stumbling through a portal in a tree into Christmas land. Fascinated and imbued with sensations he has never felt before, Jack tries to puzzle out the meaning of Christmas and after the best science montage ever, decides he can do it better. What follows is an expertly stop motion animated spiral into holiday madness as Halloween does Christmas. Come for the Oogie Boogie, stay for Jack finally getting a clue about a certain ragdoll.
The late, great Terry Pratchett was a master of satire and the Discworld version of Christmas is no exception. Like Nightmare Before Christmas, this sees another skeletal substitute for Santa, though slightly differing situations. Like all Discworld novels, beneath the often hilarious wit, is buried a deeper glimpse of how we as humans give life to our beliefs. This story will make you laugh and think all the deep thoughts. It is definitely one that will stay with you long after you close the book. There is a film version, but I can't recommend the book enough for its nuanced story telling.