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Some holiday hits are worth watching

Christmas means a lot of things to a lot of people. Some enjoy the time with family, while others look forward to eggnog, mistletoe and presents.

I look forward to most Christmas things as well, like the 24-hour broadcast of “A Christmas Story” or the annual repackaging of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” on a new collector’s edition DVD.

I love these and other Christmas movies, but I’m not a big fan of buying these movies and music, or any other holiday-inspired media. It’s just never been a practice of mine to buy something I’d really only enjoy for one month out of the year.

Still, every once in a while there’s something worth having to watch every year. Let me take you on a small, insignificant Christmas journey that covers three or four things I like to watch every holiday season.

The Ref: This is the heartwarming tale of a jewel thief named Gus (Denis Leary) who narrowly escapes a booby trap and ends up on the run. He’s stuck in a small town on Christmas eve, looking for a way to get past roadblocks set up by the state police.

He ends up taking a married couple hostage, but the couple has more baggage than a Samsonite delivery truck and he has to referee each of their battles. As the city-wide search intensifies, Gus realizes he is stuck at the house and must pretend to be the couple’s marriage counselor when the irritating relatives visit for dinner.

Why watch this: It’s a great introduction to Kevin Spacey, who plays the bitter, emasculated husband. Near the end, he tells his mother off with a line that can only be repeated in a rated-R movie — but you dislike the mother so much it’s OK.

Memorable line: “I thought mothers were supposed to be nice. I know loan sharks more caring than you are. Your husband ain’t dead, lady ... he’s hiding.” — Gus to the mother.

The Simpsons Christmas Special: It’s an early episode of the animated series that is now 16 years old. Bart gets a tattoo near the holidays and Marge has to spend the rainy day money to get laser removal. Homer’s Christmas bonus at the plant is minuscule and he works as a mall Santa to afford gifts for the family.

Why watch: Because it’s the Simpsons.

Memorable line:

“Then one foggy Christmas Eve,

Santa came to say

(Take it Homer!)

Um, Rudolph get your nose over here,

So you can guide my sleigh ... today.”

Home Alone: The breaking-out movie for Macauley Culkin, who plays Kevin McAllister, a child left at home while the rest of the family flies to Florida for Christmas. While alone, he matures and defends his house from a pair of bumbling burglars (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern).

Why watch: I can’t give you a great reason, since I’ve cooled on this movie so much over time. However, it is fun to realize how less intriguing the movie would be if it were set in 2004. The family would call each other on their family mobile plan, they’d e-mail each other back and forth and the kid would have gifts rush-mailed to him by some online site. Two months later, the McAllisters appear on a Maury Povich show titled, “True Stories of Neglectful Parents.”

Memorable line: “Ma’am, I’m 8 years old. Do you think I’d be here, all by myself? I don’t think so.” — Kevin McAllister.

So there’s what I plan on watching this holiday season, plus some other items. Take a chance on these and you should have a great holiday season. Or, if you prefer, I’m willing to bet you can find “A Christmas Story” playing somewhere on television this season.

Kevin Wilson is the managing editor of the Portales News-Tribune. He can be reached at 356-4481, ext. 33 or by e-mail:

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