You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch

Published 6:14 pm Saturday, December 26, 2015

Now that Christmas is over, I can finally make a public confession that might have resulted in a lump of coal in my stocking if I’d come forward with it earlier in the season: I’ve never seen any of the traditional Christmas movies that so many folks seem to consider a vital part of the holiday season.

Not “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “Miracle on 34th Street.” Not “Home Alone” or “Elf.” Not even “A Christmas Story.”

Call me a communist if you will, but I’ve somehow managed to miss the boat for 51 years on all of the movies that make up so much of the nation’s Christmas tradition.

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It all started innocently enough. I was always doing something else when the movies would air on television as I was growing up and during my years as a young adult. But somewhere along the way, it became a point of (perhaps misplaced) pride, and in recent years I’ve found myself going out of my way to avoid them.

During a recent trip to attend a friend’s college graduation ceremony, my wife and I were in the hotel room with a couple of hours to spare. Normally this time of year, that would mean the television would be tuned to the Hallmark channel for some movie about a developer who comes back to his hometown to bulldoze the historic and beloved Tiny Tots Town to make way for an outlet mall or to the Food Network’s Fruitcake Challenge, Part 27. But on this afternoon, I walked into the room to see a scene from “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I think George was about to get his eye shot out or something. (This is a Christmas movie?!)

Normally I gauge the degree to which Annette’s patience has waned by counting the times she rolls her eyes at me. This time, I lost count of the eye-rolls as I explained that we’d have to change the channel.

Somehow, even after 15 years together, she was unaware of my unspoken vow to never see those movies. Somehow, even though she affectionately calls me “Scrooge,” she figured I’d set aside my humbug to watch as Ralphie brought home his “major award” and then went outside and got his tongue frozen to a metal pole.

“I’m 51 years old, and I’ve never seen this movie!” I exclaimed in alarm when I saw the black-and-white images on the screen. (Eye-roll) “Do you think that I could ever have accomplished that by accident?!” (Double eye-roll) “We have to watch something else!” (“Oh for crying out loud,” punctuated by a series of eye-rolls.)

Perhaps this won’t be the sort of accomplishment that folks share when they’re giving my eulogy one day, but I have made the request. I figure whoever speaks on my behalf will be so desperate for laudatory things to say that he’ll be glad to use this little nugget. (“I think it speaks to Res’ determination that he went so long without watching ‘Elf.” Bah, humbug. He was just a cranky old goat.”)

Whatever. Now that Christmas is behind us for another year, I’m out of the woods for a bit. But I do wish I knew who won the great Fruitcake Challenge.