Holiday Viewing Round-Up 2020

We watched a lot of “holiday things” over the last few weeks.

Some were well-loved favorites. Some were new to us. Some will be watched again… others, ugh, I want my time back.

Here is our list along with our verdicts!

A Christmas Story

Watched it with Ella.

Reason: For the podcast

Rating: Ugh. Neither Ella nor I liked this movie. Ralphie is a sociopath, the narrative was clunky, there was no real pay off to several threads, and the tone was… well, I don’t think it aged well. Also, the book it is based on is even worse. There were some good moments in the movie (which were not in the book) but we both found it unpleasant and were glad when it was over. (for a more in-depth review, click here.)

Verdict: Will NOT be watching this again.

Arthur Christmas

Watched it with the whole family

Reason: Family favorite!

Rating: Still holds up. Very cute and sweet. Grand Santa is the best. His lines are fast but worth backing up to hear. I sort of want Arthur’s slippers. 

Verdict: Keep in the yearly rotation!

The Santa Clause

Watched it with the whole family

Reason: Family favorite!

Rating: Yup, still cute. One of the few Tim Allen things I like. Someday we might need to watch the sequel, but for now, this one is enough.

Verdict: Keep in the yearly rotation!

The Ref

Watched it with Matthew

Reason: Hadn’t seen it in probably 20 years, wondered if it would hold up

Rating: Eh, yeah kinda. There were some bits that were very “of that time and style of humor” which blech. But on the whole, I liked most of it. It wasn’t particularly well done or anything, but I quite enjoy the occasional dash of Denise Leary. Some fun recognizable actors like Winifred from Mary Poppins and Diane from The Good Wife/Fight. 

Verdict: Might revisit in another few years. 


Watched it with Ella (full disclosure, I slept through about 30 minutes of it)

Reason: She liked it last year and put it on the list.

Rating: Yup. Still fun. A sad bit of sentimental stuff comes kinda out of nowhere at the end (but maybe the foreshadowing happened during my nap). Good lessons that go beyond the holiday stuff. Like the new take on an old story and much prefer David Spade as a cartoon than in any other form.

Verdict: The kiddo is pretty clear that this is a family favorite. Will have to include the rest of the family next year.


Watched it with the whole family

Reason: Family favorite

Rating: This is one of my all time favorites and yeah… it is starting to almost lose its luster, but it is still fun and funny and worth the time. I still don’t get all the newscaster shenanigans at the end, chalk it up to a New York joke I just don’t get. Totally have to mentally check your brian at the door for any of it to work, but this is one of the only Will Ferrell movies that is watchable, so there’s that. Someday I am going to put syrup on noodles.

Verdict: Maybe take a year off the rotation next year so we can come back to it not as jaded.

Frosty The Snowman

Watched it with Ella

Reason: It’s a classic, right?

Rating: It was fun and short and the kiddo liked the song and the rabbit. 

Verdict: Yup, keep it in rotation

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Watched it with Ella

Reason: on the same disc as Frosty

Rating: uhhhhh this was better in my memories. I might be too old for this and I don’t have the hard nostalgia for it, but the kiddo liked it well enough. She was VERY GLAD the toys got rescued. Also, I had forgotten about Herbie the gay elf who wanted to be a dentist. 

Verdict: If she wants to watch it again next year, we will. 

A Christmas Story LIVE (2017 TV Musical EVENT)

Watched it with Ella

Reason: For the podcast.

Rating: OMG so much better than the original! And yeah, I am biased because I like musicals, but this took almost all the things I disliked about the book and movie and fixed them! Plus dancing! Plus Ralphie actually having empathy! Plus the throughline of the gun actually being a throughline! PLUS no racist jokes! I mean… for reals, you should watch this. (To hear my entire rant about how good it is, click here)

Verdict: The kiddo liked it too! This is getting ADDED to our yearly rotation.

Merry Christmas, Mr Bean (Season 1, Episode 7)

Watched it with Ella

Reason: saw it listed on a list, thought we would give it a try

Rating: It was cute. I had no idea the turkey on the head from Friends came from this! It was goofy enough that the kiddo giggled a lot. She really liked the nativity set getting a dinosaur and a Dallek. 

Verdict: We wiill totally watch this again next year.

Santa Claws (it’s about cats)

Watched it with Ella

Reason: It was her turn to pick. She picked this because “I like cats and hadn’t seen it”

Rating: I… suffered. But Ella liked it. She liked the cat voices and the silliness. I suffered through bad, BAD acting and a plot that made zero sense… but it was worth it for the Ella giggles.

Verdict: I think she should watch it again next year… with her dad. MuHAHAHAHAHA

While You Were Sleeping

Watched it with Ella

Reason: Laura reminded me that it existed and I hadn’t seen it in… yeah… 15 or more years.

Rating: So Cute! Maybe not a really “Christmas” movie as it only starts at Christmas but it is adorable and the kind of romcom that I actually like. Plus… I am pretty sure that I got my fashion asthetic from Lucy because.. Big frumpy sweaters… fingerless gloves… boots… hair in the ponytail… umm.. Yes, girl yes. It was Ella safe as well which was nice. So glad I watched it.

Verdict: Yes! If I don’t add it to my yearly holiday movie list, I might just need to make a new “winter movie” list and this one will be number one.

The Nutcracker. (North Coast Dance)

(My sister’s studio in Northern CA.) Instead of a live production this year, they filmed a shooter version of the ballet and sold copies.)

Watched it with Ella (and sort of my entire family as we all viewed it separately but at the same time)

Reason: Have not had the chance to see my sister dance since she was in high school. Going all the way to Eureka for ballet is not in the cards, like… ever. We were so jazzed that they made a version that could be enjoyed from afar.

Rating: It was amazing. They adapted it to keep the 6-foot distance requirement and everyone wore masks that matched their costumes! Plus it was shorter than normal and we could pause and get snacks. THIS is how to watch ballet! Plus the dancers were very talented and at the end they showed a few of the classes and so we got to see my niece do her little dance. Very sweet. It was also fun to hear all the behind the scenes stuff from her afterward.

Verdict: 10/10 would recommend. Biased, sure. We own the digital download so we can totally watch it again next year. I doubt they will film it again, but it was very special and very 2020. (If you want to buy it for yourself and support them, let me know.)

Doctor Who A Christmas Carol (Season 6, Episode 0 – aired Dec 25, 2010)

Watched it with the whole family

Reason: Wanted another holiday-themed episode and love Doctor Who… but are very careful about which episodes we show the kiddo.

Rating: So Good! Ella liked it… especially the shark things pulling the carriage through the sky. The Amy and Rory characters were never my favorites but thankfully they are hardly in this episode and we just get lots of Matt Smith and flying fish and happy feelings. It is a bit sad, but… I can live with that. 

Verdict: Yup. A classic. Will totally add to the yearly watch list. Might need to watch a few other DW Christmas Specials to check their safety for Ella before then. It’s a sacrifice I am willing to make.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas (original)

Watched it with the whole family

Reason: It’s kinda a law, right?

Rating: Exactly how I remember it. Although nowadays Ella can sing along because she did the play for school last year so she knows all the words. I only know like “da bo doorway, it’s a doorway, not the words but my voice is HIGH” or something. Thank goodness for Ella.

Verdict: Keep in the rotation

National Lampoons Christmas Vacation

Watched it with the whole family

Reason: People kept telling us it is a classic. None of us had seen it.

Rating: OMG so bad! We all, all three of us, disliked this movie. There were like 2 moments of slight funny and the rest was painful and stupid. Who are we rooting for? Why? It was like bad sketch comedy stuck together, badly, and the cartoon style was just… bad. I have no idea why people like this movie so much.

Verdict: Should have skipped it. Will not be rewatching it. 

The Last Gingerbread House On The Left (Bob’s Burgers Season 7, Episode 7)

Watched it with the whole family

Reason: Matt and I remembered really liking it and we were in the process of a family gingerbread house project and needed something to do while the frosting hardened.

Rating: Just as cute as I remembered. Ella liked it too. She was a bit worried about the scary house but was happy with the ending. Plus, the potty head, while not my cup of humor, made her giggle. Ella really hates guns, they are very frightening to her, but this episode was goofy enough, and the gunplay silly enough that she was ok. Plus, afterward, we got to decorate our own gingerbread house! 

Verdict: Totally adding it into our yearly rotation. Also have started introducing Ella to a few other episodes of BB. Everyone wins!

Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas (Community Season 2, Episode 11)

Watched it with the whole family

Reason: Again, we had fond memories and thought Ella might get a kick out of it

Rating: We were right. She liked it and we remembered why we liked it and how delightful Community was before it… wasn’t. 

Verdict: Totally adding this to the list. Our holiday movie list is going to be half tv episodes. I can live with that.

The Christmas Chronicles

Watched it with the whole family

Reason: Apparently we had watched it before, not last year but before that… or something? I had ZERO memory of this movie until about halfway through. Ella couldn’t remember it at all, but Matt swore we had seen it. And… well, the dad dies in the opening act so I guess that is why it stuck with him.

Rating: It was… fine. The little girl was cute. Kurt Russel was jazy awesome. Loved the song in the jail, loved Mrs Clause… was not overly impressed with the weird troll-like elves but the kiddo liked them well enough. 

Verdict: I have heard that the sequel is better. So maybe we will rewatch this next year and then see what comes next. Curious if any of us will remember it in a year. 

Die Hard

Watched it with Matthew.

Reason: ummm because it is tied for first place as my favorite Christmas movie!

(This year, I took a *special* gummy before we watched it and boy howdy, let me tell you it gets EVEN BETTER with that little THC boost.)

Rating: I love this stupid movie. And yes, it is a Christmas movie. And yes it is based on a book and yes I did a whole podcast episode about it that you should totally listen to. This movie is dumb. It is. But it is BIG DUMB FUN and sometimes you need that.

Verdict: This was Matthew’s first time seeing it in years and years. He was like ‘yeah ok” and I was like “I have SO many Thoughts To SHARE with you because I am HIGH but will wait until next year so you can actually enjoy the movie.” We will totally be watching it again next year. 

Stick Man

Watched it with the whole family

Reason: My mom or sister or other sister… someone told me to watch it.

Rating: Very sweet. Not sure if it really a Christmas movie, but who cares at this point, right? F- 2020 and the rules, do what feels good (as it harms none). This movie was short and sweet and simple and sweet and happy and sweet… and yeah. Sweet. I did just type sweet 5 times. No regrets. Again, 2020 is almost over. Wheeeee!

Verdict: Not sure if it will get added in or just occasionally enjoyed. But I am glad we watched it. And yes, it made me cry.

Muppets Christmas Carol

Watched it with the whole family

Reason: It is a family favorite and our traditional Christmas movie.

Rating: It still holds up. I was… 10, I think, when I saw it the first time. This movie IS the holidays for me. There is singing. There are puns. There is food. There is secular love and joy and lessons learned that aren’t rooted in religion! And a happy ending! 

Verdict: Duh. This is how we finish off our holiday viewing and that is one tradition 2020 didn’t take from us! We will see it again on Christmas 2021!

I hope you enjoyed reading this at least half as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Next year we shall start again. We will watch some classics we have never seen (It’s a Wonderful Life comes to mind) and probably watch a few new ones. Until then…

Netflix bless us, everyone!



Movies we didn’t watch this year because we watched them last year and someone in the household really disliked them: Home Alone (Ella), Love Actually (Matt and I), Peanuts Christmas (me).

Movies we meant to watch but ran out of time: Garfield Christmas. Happiest Season. Christmas Chronicles 2.

PPS: Ella helped me write this. Thank you, Ella!

Published by kayliametcalfe

Queer,loudmouth,skeptical-agnostic-pagan,book addict,coffee lover,wine drinker, SAHM,writer,editor,producer,podcaster. -She/her

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