[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his year in our house, we are having an ‘austerity’ Christmas. On Christmas day we will do everything exactly the same as we normally do – by half past nine everyone will be tipsy on either sloe gin or bucks fizz, the tree will be knocked over at least twice before lunch (once by a human and once by an overexcited cat), and when we have held the annual ‘who can eat the most pigs in blankets without keeling over and cracking their head on the mantel piece’ competition, we will retreat to the sofas and curl up in front of some nice Christmas movies.

However, the big (and only) difference between an austerity Christmas and a normal Christmas is that we will not be having presents. There will be nothing underneath our glittering Christmas tree, other than perhaps the aforementioned cat, staring upwards in fascination laced with hatred. Instead, we have decided that each person will bring along their own personal pick of a Christmas DVD and we will work our way through all of them, halting periodically to send someone to the kitchen for more Lebkuchen.

Being a film geek, I should have no problem at all in choosing the perfect Christmas movie – after all, I probably already own it. There will be no Christmas Eve dash to HMV for me. Even so, my dilemma is this: should I choose an epic Christmas Day classic that no-one in their right mind could possibly object to (It’s a Wonderful Life, The Sound of Music, Meet Me in St Louis)? Or should I go rogue, and pick something edgier, more modern, more off the wall (Bad Santa, Die Hard 1 or 2, or even that famous bloodbath The Muppet Christmas Carol)?

There’s a lot to be said for the classic Christmas movie. It’s a story you know and love, you probably know all the words, you can even sing along if that’s the sort of thing you’re into. And it’s guaranteed there’ll be at least one scene that has everybody weeping into their figgy pudding – that bit in Meet Me in St Louis when Tootie runs outside and smashes up the snowmen, because “I’d rather kill them if we can’t take them with us”? Forget about it.

But do we really want to be crying on Christmas Day, if we can possibly help it? Wouldn’t we rather be watching John McClane chucking Hans ‘rumour has it Arafat buys his there’ Gruber off the top of the Nakatomi building one more time? It’s easy to forget that Die Hard is a Christmas movie, but it is chock full of snow, fairy lights, Christmas trees and carols. All that, and wicked one liners in a hail of bullets too.

Of course, the beauty of our plan is that we will probably end up watching at least four or five films on Christmas Day, so if we get ourselves organised we can alternate between warm fuzzy schmaltz and satisfyingly irreverent action. After writing this, I’m coming down on the side of action myself. Perhaps we can invent some sort of port-and-cheese related Die Hard drinking game – do a snifter every time Christmas is mentioned, two every time McClane talks to himself, and a hefty wedge of brie every time he’s in an elevator or a ventilation shaft. Welcome to the party, pal.

What movies will you be crashing out in front of this Christmas?

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  1. Efrem Zimbalist Jr

    I don't know who wrote this, but they deserve a big hug.