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Chris Hicks: Stretching the definition of Christmas movies ... and other musings

"The Muppet Christmas Carol"
"The Muppet Christmas Carol"

Well, Christmas is over and it’s almost New Year’s Eve. So how long will your tree stay up? Or your outside lights?

Frankly, I’m in favor of taking it all down on Dec. 26. But my wife, Joyce, prefers to let things linger, just as my kids did when they ruled the roost. And I learned long ago not to argue the point.

Not that she’s unreasonable. Evidence of the holidays usually disappears by April, and, thankfully, the Nativity-and Santa-themed music and movies find their way into boxes by early January. (Earlier if she goes out for a couple of hours.)

Joyce also likes to cram in as many Christmas movies as we can watch between Thanksgiving and late December, and if that includes the week running up to New Year’s, she’s fine with that. And maybe into January if I’m not paying attention.

I’d prefer to mix it up a little with a classic comedy here and a film noir thriller there, but that happens only grudgingly on her part.

For a month or more it should be all Christmas all the time, she says. And, unfortunately, she’s tipped to my attempts to sneak in “Gremlins” or “Die Hard.” Hey, they’re set during Christmas. … Yeah, that doesn’t work anymore.

Heck, I can quote “The Muppet Christmas Carol” verbatim and have offered to perform it for her instead of watching it again. That doesn’t work either.

And come Dec. 26, well, my thinking is that after St. Nick has paid his visit we should be ready to never see another holiday-themed sitcom or Christmas movie ever again. Or at least not for another 12 months.

Call me a Grinch if you must (and when she reads this that’s just what Joyce will do) but when it’s over it’s over. Let’s move on.

After all, there are plenty of other commercialized holidays during the year besides Christmas. In fact, I think I saw some Valentine’s cards in the grocery store the other day.

I suspect that if Joyce reads this today, I’ll be reminded that there are now only 364 shopping days until Christmas. (Note to self: Hide Friday’s newspaper from Joyce.)

Anyway, I’ve learned to keep such holiday misgivings to myself most of the time. I have no idea why I’m turning this column into a confessional blog. Maybe I wouldn’t have to if I was on Facebook.

But I can’t help it. As 2013 winds down I’ve been thinking about all kinds of random things that have entered my brain over the course of the year, including these:

There are few things as embarrassing as admitting you haven’t a clue what your grandkids are talking about, much less texting about. As I wrote earlier this year, my wife had to explain LMAO to me when we saw it on a movie screen, which she did with a chuckle. But then a few weeks ago she asked me what “twerking” was — is that the same as "tweeting"? To my everlasting shame, I knew the answer and explained it to her. Although to my credit, I did use words, not gestures.

During a trip to Hawaii last spring, we saw flavored Spam on a grocery store shelf. I know this is probably not news to most of you but I always thought Spam was just Spam, some kind of mystery pork packaged in goo (OK, gelatinous glaze). I didn’t realize it came in a variety of flavors, like ice cream. There’s Spam With Bacon and Spam Oven Roasted Turkey and Spam with Cheese and Spam Jalapeno. …. I’m waiting for Spam with Cookie Dough.

“The Wolf of Wall Street” stars Leonardo DiCaprio in his fifth film for director Martin Scorsese. Can you name the other four? “Gangs of New York,” “The Aviator,” “The Departed,” “Shutter Island.” (No, he didn’t play “Hugo.”)

And here’s where it gets tricky: How many films did Scorsese make with Robert De Niro before DiCaprio came along? Eight, believe it or not: “Mean Streets,” “Taxi Driver,” “New York, New York,” “Raging Bull,” “The King of Comedy,” “Goodfellas,” “Cape Fear,” “Casino.” (And he didn’t play “Hugo,” either.)

When we stopped at a Carl’s Jr. for lunch during a road trip a few months ago, a TV screen mounted on the wall was showing piped-in videos and commercials, not broadcast or cable channels. So it was a surprise to see an ad for McDonald’s pop up. Made me wish I’d ordered a Big Mac.

Does anyone really understand why Facebook overtook Myspace as a social networking site? “Like” this if you know.

Do you suppose Lindsay Lohan is relieved to see Miley Cyrus take the spotlight away from her? Or does she think of it as competition?

When I saw a recent list of the biggest comedy hits of the year I remembered why we don’t go to “funny” movies anymore: “The Heat,” “We’re the Millers,” “Identity Thief,” “Grown Ups 2,” “The Hangover, Part III.” … See a pattern? Think bodily functions.

I dunno. Maybe I should go on Facebook. It could be my New Year’s resolution. Then again, if I did, it would violate last year’s resolution to never go on Facebook.

Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings." His website is