Christmas Freak

The merriest corner of the Internet

Category: Film, Dance, & Literature

Love Actually, Actually

Stock your fridges with milk and canned food because I’m about to storm on this party. Love Actually actually isn’t good. Too many plot lines, most of them upsetting and antithetical to the Christmas spirit. The deceptively cheerful DVD cover does not warn the viewer that half an hour in, Emma Thompson is going to discover that Snape has been cheating on her. Very sad. Not festive at all. Nor does it warn us that Keira Knightly, who seems to be blissfully married, is going to kiss her husband’s best friend, giving him hope that she will one day dissolve her happy marriage because said friend showed interest in her. A cruel and incomprehensible choice on her part that’s disguised as harmless because it takes place on Christmas and is swathed in seasonal cheer. Most baffling, though, is the story of the young man who has to travel to America to meet women because we are told he has no redeemable qualities other than his British accent, which is only appreciated in the U.S. What kind of Christmas lesson is this? I concede that the Liam Neeson plotline is okay, though the airport scene is silly and overblown at best. If you absolutely must watch a depressing film that happens to be set on Christmas and stars Snape, may I suggest watching Die Hard instead? The cover accurately depicts the contents, and the ending is far more gratifying.


Meg Ryan

was probably born in a cable-knit sweater. When she takes off her sweater, there’s nothing underneath except softer, more exquisite cable-knit sweaters. I’m not sure where she is or what she’s doing, but I hope she’s curled up on the couch, tired after a long day of dragging her Christmas tree down Broadway and up the stairs of her little apartment, and now that it’s done, she admires it and sighs nostalgically, gazing out the window at the snow falling outside. Maybe she spots a star and wishes on it: When, oh, when will I find my sweater soulmate? Eternally cozy Meg.

The Nightmare Before Christmas



I often fear that this blog gives you the wrong idea about me, so let me clear the air. I love all autumn holidays, not just Christmas. I truly the value the three-day weekend granted to us on Pre-Pre-Pre-Pre Christmas, otherwise known as Labor Day, the gateway to the season. I collect challah, honey cake, and babka recipes all year long in anticipation of the High Holiday Pre-Pre-Pre Christmas feast. One of my favorite ways to celebrate Pre-Pre Christmas is to carve a nativity scene into my pumpkin, dress up as an elf, and go to Rite Aide while everyone else is trick-or-treating, to watch the employees pack away the unsold candy and fill the shelves with ornaments, tinsel, and wrapping paper. I adore Pre-Christmas, which exists primarily for stuffing & pie recipe testing, and marks the date when radio stations can finally embrace the festive spirit sans angry grinch callers…but I’m getting ahead of myself.

We’re only at Pre-Pre Christmas, and on years when I don’t have a Rite Aide “party” to go to, I do the next best thing: I collect all of the decorative spider webbing from outside and spin it into a santa beard, turn the jack-o-lanterns into spiced pumpkin bread, and watch Tim Burton’s A Nightmare Before Christmas. A musical, a scary movie, and an intimate and startling portrait of a true Christmas Freak all wrapped up in one, it’s the ultimate holiday primer, and is beloved by Halloween freaks and Pre-Pre Christmas freaks alike. Go watch it and release your inner Jack and make your own strange and troubling Christmas.

Not to be a grinch, but

February is the worst. If the month had a soundtrack, it would consist of nothing more than a series of long, slow moans. The only people who enjoy this time of year are those who have February birthdays, which is selfish. Why must you ruin our pity party with cheerful festivities celebrating the great miracle of life while everyone else is trudging through the slush muttering pejoratives at no one in particular because the weather conditions are too extreme to risk raising one’s head and being pummeled by sleet and rain?

In my opinion, the best way to get through this dark time is to embrace your inner Grinch. Ironically, the more I ponder him, the more he cheers me up. He’s so flexible! I love how he looks like a sly old grandma in his santa suit. And his little eggplant top shoulder shrug and peapod shoes! He does what he wants and doesn’t let anyone brighten his day until he’s ready. He knows that sometimes in order to feel better you first have to feel worse. Here are a few of my favorite Grinch-sults to supe up your February arsenal:

Your heart’s a dead tomato squashed with moldy purple spots!

Your heart is full of unwashed socks!

You have termites in your smile!

Your brain is full of spiders, you’ve got garlic in your soul!

You’re as charming as an eel!

You’re a bad banana with a greasy black peel!

Put on Darlene Love’s Winter Wonderland

and feel yourself being transported to the holiday tree-shopping montage in your own personal romantic comedy.

The Polar Express

was horrifying. Whoever decided that it was appropriate for a) Christmas and b) children must have been grinching hard, because this is the bleakest holiday film I’ve ever seen. The kind of Christmas movie Arthur Miller would have made if he’d been asked to adapt “Death of a Salesman” for children, starring uncanny valley robo-kids whose expressions are only slightly more bewildering than the knowledge that each character is actually Tom Hanks jumping around in a bulbed unitard.


The Crappy Part of the Nutcracker


Blasphemy! I know, I know. I adore the Nutcracker so much that I always forget how much of a snoozer most of the first act is. Let’s pause for a moment, clear the marzipan from our heads, and think back to that nice nap we took during scenes one through six, you know–the scenes with all the lovely orchestra music playing in the background?

Somewhere in between the trumpet and the horn, I vaguely remember a long, uneventful Christmas party: 20 minutes of adults greeting each other and passing around hors d’oeuvres. I’m pretty sure one of the scenes is called “Dance of the Parents,” and another “Departure of the Guests,” two of the least exciting things to happen dramatically ever, and during which time most of the dancing consists of adults shaking hands and bowing to each other. Which, I’ll give them credit, is exactly how I imagine parents dancing. I know, they have to introduce the magical toymaker who gives Clara the nutcracker, etc, etc, but really–and maybe this is the New Yorker in me speaking–I would have been just as pleased to have rushed through that bit, and filled the following five scenes with the dancing rats. Who doesn’t like festive rodents?

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