by Blake Taylor
This time of year, family time goes into overdrive with relative gatherings, hearty meals, gift-giving, and, of course, the broadcasts of our favorite perennial Christmas specials. We all have our favorites (mine are A Charlie Brown Christmas and Home Alone 2… so good!), and while many of these movies and programs are legitimately quality productions, I think part of what makes them so exciting for us is that we only watch them during this one specific time of year. Of course, we might occasionally bust out Rudolph or something in the summertime when we need a little Christmas fix, but for the most part, these specials are limited to the November-December window, and as such are greeted with much anticipation leading up to their arrival.
I got to thinking about this a few years ago, and thought it would be neat to experiment if this effect only worked on Christmas movies—with the tree, the radio stations, and the decorations adding extra fun to these productions—or if the same could be done for non-Christmas occasions in an effort to give my family’s favorite movies an added sense of magic. Movie night is a big deal in my family, a weekly occurrence complete with popcorn and M&M’s regalia, so I knew this idea of giving a few movies a specific, individualized season of the year to watch them would be difficult, but would prove beneficial if it worked out like I thought it would.
In a sense, I suppose you could say I metaphorically made my own Disney Vault—you know, that thing that Disney uses in its marketing when classic films are re-released after being off the shelves for several years. I thought of my family’s all-time favorite movies, came up with appropriate occasions to surround those movies, and scheduled those movie nights to be something really special, restricting myself from watching these movies at other times of the year.
Here are a few examples. My mom’s favorite actress is Hayley Mills, so on her birthday weekend we always watch The Parent Trap and That Darn Cat. It’s neat to see one of Disney’s original leading ladies in different roles back-to-back, and my mom loves seeing two of her favorite movies in one weekend. Likewise, my favorite movie is The Lion King, so that’s on my birthday. Most new Pixar movies are released in June, so usually leading up to that release, we watch multiple Pixar films throughout the month to build excitement about the studio’s newest film (with Finding Nemo usually going on Father’s Day, appropriately).
Other instances are associated with specific memories or other purposes. We were fortunate enough to attend the Cars world premiere (best $10 we ever spent!) near Memorial Day 2006, so Cars is usually our Memorial Day selection to spark some of the happy memories from that event. Additionally, I usually plan the Pirates of the Caribbean films for throughout May so that my siblings and I have something to look forward to in the middle of busy, stressful exam time. Lilo & Stitch typically goes the night before heading to the beach. This year we watched Toy Story 3 the night before I went to college… though that one did not go over so well!
I’ve found that there’s a lot more of a special quality to viewing our favorites when we only get to see them during an intentional time, rather than randomly on any given day as a spur-of-the-moment choice. It makes us appreciate them a bit more. We watch each movie once as a whole family, and I usually will watch it a few more times by myself on my computer for several weeks after that before putting it to rest until the next year. To me, it gives the movies I love so much extra weight and makes me like them even more. Turns out its reach extends beyond just Christmas movies!
Blake is a college student focusing on Creative Writing and Media Studies. He enjoys making his family of six watch the parade on Main Street and then sprint to Frontierland in time to see it again. You can follow Blake’s random Disney ramblings on Twitter at @blakeonline, or at BlakeOnline.com.