Every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas I force Thom (my husband) to sit with me and watch the most corny holiday movies imaginable on television. Yes I confess, I love the sweet, sappy and heart-tugging stories that cover the airwaves during the month of December. And on this, the final couple of days of my 2014 Third Annual Gratitude Challenge, I took the time to research several of my favorite movies from the past that generate a feeling of thankgiving within me. Perhaps if I can find these on cable, Thom will be saved from what shows up on the Lifetime or Hallmark Channel in the next couple of weeks?
Be assured I’ve seen every single one of these movies at least once and recommend them all. And rather than trying to list them according to preference (I’ve included all sorts of genres), they are arranged by date of release.
It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) —Classic story of discovering how of our individual lives impact the world, and realizing in the end how wonderful our life is in spite of it’s flaws.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)—This original holiday favorite tugs at our heartstrings and reminds us all to “Believe.”
To Kill A Mockingbird (1962) —Another classic that continues to remind us that it is so important to stand up for what is right and serve as a model for others.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)—This classic odd-couple Thanksgiving comedy reminds us that while travel during a holiday is never fun, there is a big reason we do it anyway.
Dead Poets Society (1989)—Encouragement to us all to triumph over a fear of failure, to live our dreams boldly, and to seize the day!
Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)—A story of women learning the value of friendship and what it takes to love and be true to ourselves.
Ruby In Paradise (1993)–A celebration of heart, courage and persistence by a young woman on a journey of self discovery.
Cool Runnings (1993)—Entertaining, funny and uplifting story of how success comes from hard work and determination.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)—A story that shows that no matter how humble the circumstances we can still rise above them and through friendships, work together to help others.
Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995)—An uplifting story of how a job can be transformed into a soul-satisfying vocation.
The Mighty (1998)—The story of how two very different young men discover the power of friendship and transcend their disabilities.
The Spitfire Grill (1999)—A powerful story about forgiveness, transformation, learning to love, accepting oneself and how we can all turn our lives around no matter what has happened in the past.
Cider House Rules (1999) —Shows that life is about choices and that all of our actions ripple out and affect others.
Music of the Heart (1999) Another story where a young teacher uses music to inspired troubled kids and learns that by helping others she helps herself.
October Sky (1999) —How a group of boys learned to challenge the system, never stop setting goals and to believe in themselves.
Pay It Forward (2000)—An inspirational challenge to us all to come up with an idea to change the world, and then put it into practice.
Life As A House (2001)—A father-son drama about overcoming the miss-steps of the past and that a healing is not always a cure.
About Schmidt (2002)—One man’s journey toward the end of his life to find purpose and meaning—and most especially who he really is.
Rabbit Proof Fence (2002)—A story about Aboriginal children in Australia showing remarkable courage, stamina and spirit.
Love Actually (2003) —Reminds us all heart-warmingly of the importance of love—no matter what.
Whale Rider (2003)—The story of a young Maori girl coming-of-age and learning to be true to herself and the world around her.
Secondhand Lions (2003)—A story of how youth has the ability to inspire us, and that we are only as old as we think we are.
Pieces of April (2003)—A Thanksgiving movie that shares how even a very dysfunctional family still can come together with unconditional love and reminds us to appreciate and love each other in spite of our failures and disappointments.
The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)—Based on the true story of how a father overcame tremendous odds to give his son a better life.
The Bucket List (2007)—Another odd-couple story that reminds us that the happiest lives are spent with those we love—and that we should make the most of every single day of our lives.
Freedom Writers (2007)—How a dedicated teacher inspires her students to write in journals and move past their troubled young lives.
August Rush (2008)—A tribute to the soul-stirring power of music and the unwavering belief that miracles do exist.
Slumdog Millionaire (2008)—A story that reaches beyond some horrific circumstances to show that things like friendship, gratitude, love and hope are universal to us all no matter where we live.
Blind Side (2009)—a semi-biographical story about a young man who was nurtured by a foster family and evolved into his realizing his potential.
The Help (2011)—Shows how things are changing, slowly but surely, and why they need to continue until all of us realize that racism and inequality have no place in a compassionate world.
I’ve obviously left out movies like Schindler’s List, 12 Years A Slave and Hotel Rwanda, not because they aren’t movies of selfless sacrifice in the face of tragedy and terror, but because they are difficult to watch and once was enough for me. The rest of the movies I found uplifting and touching enough to recommend them to everyone who appreciates a movie that inspires while it entertains.
One thing I’m learning as I put in time in on Planet Earth is that life is too short to watch bad movies with no redeeming value. At a certain point it is SMART to remember that one of our most precious commodities is our time, and I plan to use mine remembering to be grateful for the love and goodness that exists in the world—and thankfully, some movies help us do just that!
I’m sure there are plenty of other great movies I’ve forgotten. Please share in the comments below any movies you think should be added! Thank You!