The holidays are upon us, and while celebrations this year will look quite different than years past, that doesn’t mean we have to give up all our traditions. One of our most beloved traditions is putting on some Christmas lights, curling up under a blanket, and watching our favorite holiday movies. From all the way back in 1898 when the short silent film Santa Claus was made to Netflix releasing half a dozen original holiday movies this year, Christmas movies have been as much a part of our traditions marking the year’s end as decorating a tree, lighting a menorah or kinara, and exchanging gifts.

Here at Atom, we’re all about movies, so we thought we’d share some of our favorite holiday traditions with our readers. Enjoy!

Alisha Grauso – Editorial Lead

In my family, we have a number of Christmas traditions – and you better stick to them, lest my middle sister, the traditionalist, yell at you. Rule number one: You can’t listen to Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving. Rule number two: The first Christmas album you have to listen to is N’Sync’s Home for Christmas (look, I don’t make the rules). Rule number three: You have to watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and A Christmas Story at least once before Christmas. While my sisters and I have a great love for the first movie and quote it constantly, the second is a little closer to our collective heart. When we were teenagers, we, along with my cousins, always tried to stay up the full 24 hours to watch the yearly Christmas Story marathon on TBS – one year, my cousin, Kevin, actually succeeded and then was so hopped up on sugar and exhaustion that he was sick the entire time we opened presents at our grandparents’ house. Good times! Now that we’re older and my sisters have kids of their own, A Christmas Story has become like an old, soft blanket for us. It doesn’t really feel like the Christmas season until we watch it – only now, I have to send pics of my TV screen to my sisters as I live on the other side of the country. And while my kindergarten and toddler nephews are all a little too young to appreciate it just yet, it’s now become part of the Christmas tradition for my 11-year-old niece. It’s pretty cool to see the small little ways our family traditions are passed down from generation to generation.

Jessica Cohen – Senior Director of Marketing

My family and I tend to go see movies on or around Christmas Day.  They typically cater to my dad since he likes more of a war or action movie – and my mom and I like those too.  But about two years ago, we went to see J.LO’s classic Second Act because nothing would have made me happier that Christmas.  To my surprise, I LOVED it and so did my parents.  They were shocked they enjoyed it.  Thanks, J.LO.  Always making my Christmas season brighter.

Julian Bahmani – Senior Manager, Marketing & Product Design

My sister and I have a tradition of watching the Jim Carrey Grinch movie every year on Christmas Eve without fail since its release. Sometimes we’ll watch it before then as well but always on Christmas Eve at a minimum. At this stage, our parents leave the room when the titles roll because they’re so tired of it but it’s our favorite part of the holidays. It’s a testament to the brilliance of that film that 20 years later, I’m still finding little jokes or references planted throughout for the adults in the audience that went way over my head as a kid. It quite literally never gets old and my sister and I have entire monologues memorized at this stage and could very likely re-enact the entire script with near-perfect line readings. His monologue about how his evening is too full of existential dread to interact with people feels particularly apropos of 2020. It’s maybe not an overwhelmingly exciting tradition but it’s our favorite one, nonetheless.

Tara Hodges – Senior Manager, Marketing & Promotions

My family has always celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve so that’s when we hang out all day, open gifts, see family, and watch cheesy Hallmark holiday movies. Christmas is more of a relaxing day as we have already cleaned up the mess from the night prior and then celebrate with fondue for dinner (my Grandma’s recipe) and end the night with hot chocolate by the fire watching Christmas with the Kranks– it’s not planned but seems to always be on!

Derek Koehler – Senior Manager, Brand & Digital Marketing

Every Christmas Eve, my family and I watch Jingle All The Way, the holiday comedy starring none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger as a procrastinating father determined to secure his son the hottest toy on the market the day before Christmas. While I enjoy the tradition of it (and take pride in being able to quote nearly the entire movie line by line), the film gives my mom flashbacks to holiday toy shopping in the ’90s. In a time before online shopping, she would call every store with a toy aisle in the area, camp out before the doors opened, and race other shoppers to secure whatever new Power Ranger was most coveted that year for my brother and me. “You kids have no idea what I had to do to get you the White Ranger,” my mom repeats every year, as we rewatch a film that triggers flashbacks from a different time. Yet, both the great lengths we see Arnold Schwarzenegger go through in the film and the stories of what my mom would do for us are nothing but acts of love. And isn’t that what the holidays are all about?

Lisa Konen – Director of Brand & Content

“You serious, Clark?” Our family holiday movie tradition is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. We watch it every year and, even though we know every line by heart, it still manages to crack us up. We originally had it on VHS, then switched to DVD, then kept losing the DVD so there were like three years in a row where we bought a new DVD each Christmas, then we upgraded to Blu-Ray, and now we stream it. Whether it’s Aunt Bethany saying grace (“The blessinnnggggg”), Margo asking, “And why is the carpet all wet, Todd?” or cousin Eddie emptying sewage onto the street on Christmas morning, it’s just one of those movies that’s packed with great scenes. Reciting the best quotes is one of our favorite pastimes during our “good old-fashioned family Christmas.” 

Stan Sultanov – QA Engineer

It might be a little-known fact outside of ex-USSR countries, but for the majority of Russian-speaking people you might ever meet, the main Christmas (or rather, New Year) movie is a comedy called The Irony of Fate. We got so used to watching it on TV every single New Year’s Eve while growing up that it kinda engraved itself onto our brains as one of the main New Year traditions − together with kids getting mandarin oranges as treats. And it doesn’t actually matter whether you like the movie or not − it’s part of the culture code, like certain holiday movies in the U.S. So quite a few Russian-speaking people living in America still actually watch that movie on New Year’s Eve.

As a dad with my own family, though, we somehow dodged that movie tradition. Instead, we came up with a new one, and it’s The Lord of the Rings − any part of the trilogy or all, depending on how much time we have. We are Tolkien fans (but no wooden swords and elven ears), so once those movies started releasing each year around Christmas, it naturally became our new family tradition.

Kaitlyn Nickol – Operations Specialist & Atom Insider Contributor

There are a few holiday movies that are absolute musts for me every year – Home AloneElfThe Nightmare Before ChristmasSerendipity (As my absolute favorite, yes, I will argue that this is a holiday movie, and I will win that argument. The amount of frozen hot chocolate I make to go with it…astronomical). But, there’s one yearly Christmas movie that has a particularly special place in my heart, and always will: The Polar Express. I know you read that and immediately either thought of the…rather interesting animation choices…or of Tom Hanks shouting, “Hot chocolate!” through the cabin of a train as waiters tap dance on tables.

I was seven years old when The Polar Express was first released, and the idea of traveling up to the North Pole on a magical train that picked you up right outside your house on Christmas Eve was absolutely mesmerizing. I wanted to reach into the pocket of my pajama pants and pull out a golden ticket to whisk me away to a wintery wonderland and get back with just enough time to still sneak down to see if there was anything left under the tree. Well, Christmas Eve came that year, and there was no train to take me on a magical journey. Instead, I set out my milk and cookies and tossed some food for Santa’s reindeer (a bag of oats) onto our driveway, like always, and tip-toed off to bed. If you remember the movie, you’ll remember that the boy ends up receiving the first gift of Christmas from Santa. His choice? A bell from Santa’s sleigh. A bell that jingles only for those who believe in the magic of Christmas. He ends up losing the bell on his way back home, but it’s returned to him by Santa himself.

On Christmas morning that year, at seven years old, I ran outside as I always do to see if the reindeer ate the food that I had left them – they did. But I also had been left with my favorite Christmas gift I’ve ever received. On my driveway, dusted in snow (it had indeed been a white Christmas that year), were two silver bells. Bells from Santa’s sleigh! It was the most magical Christmas morning I could ever imagine. Today, I still have the bells in my jewelry box. And I can still hear them ring.

Ian Moriarty – Venue Support Specialist & Atom Insider Contributor

My family’s holiday movie tradition is to watch Planes, Trains and Automobiles right before Christmas. I know it’s technically a Thanksgiving movie, but the journey home can be daunting no matter which holiday it is, right? As a family, we have very different tastes in movies but somehow, Planes, Trains and Automobiles fits perfectly in the intersection of our Venn diagram. We’ll do callbacks to the movie for the rest of the holiday season and my dad loves to playfully re-enact some of Steve Martin’s famous tirades. It’s a great movie for my family because it’s easy to reference and feels like there’s an inside joke we all get to share every holiday.

Vicky Grahan – VP of Marketing

Our holiday movie tradition is always watching Home Alone on Christmas Eve.  Growing up, we’d all watch together while we ate the Christmas cookies (read: ready-bake Nestle chocolate chip cookies) we prepared for Santa.  Now that we’re all grown with our own families, we can’t always be together on Christmas Eve.  So instead, we hop on a family text thread and send snapshots of the TV and some of our favorite quotes from the movie to each other.  My husband thinks we’re nuts, but we do it every year.

Claudia Herrera – Retention Manager

Christmas Eve was the big day at my house. Mom would be preparing a huge meal and my siblings and I would sit with dad and watch a marathon of Christmas movies. Classics like Home Alone, A Christmas Story, The Santa Clause, they were on repeat every year. We also opened presents on Christmas Eve so we needed something to keep us up until midnight.
I’ve continued that tradition on Christmas Day with my boyfriend and his family in Chicago. To my surprise, Die Hard is on their list. Thanks to that number of times I’ve seen Die Hard in my adult life by now is too many.

Happy holidays, everyone! What’s your favorite holiday movie tradition?

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