What is your favorite holiday movie?

Published 12:17 am Sunday, December 18, 2011

ERIC SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT Santa is Ellis Gill, a Natchez resident, who greeted children at the Natchez Mall Thursday.

NATCHEZ — No matter how many times Miss-Lou families say they have seen their favorite holiday flick, it stills brings laughter, and even a sense of tradition, to Christmastime.

Natchez resident Keith Rayborn and his family have made a tradition out of one holiday movie favorite — “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” For approximately 20 years, the Rayborns have invited friends for feast, fellowship and fun to their house on Hummingbird Lane.

“We do it on Christmas Eve, always at our house,” Rayborn said. “It’s a time for friends to come by, eat and watch the movie.”

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Rayborn said laughs roll when the main character, Clark, finally gets all the lights lit up on the house.

“All the sudden he looks up, and his cousin Eddie is there,” Rayborn said.

Eddie asks Clark if he’s surprised by his visit, and Clark said, “I wouldn’t be more surprised if I woke up and my head was sewn to the carpet.”

Rayborn said last year he lost his copy of the movie, so they watched “Elf” instead.

“Everyone was all disappointed,” Rayborn said. “So for my birthday in February, our friend Tammy Laird Jackson, who has been there (for Christmas movie parties) since day one, got me the DVD and a dickey like Eddie wears. So I will have to wear my dickey this year.”

Jackson said she can’t wait to see Rayborn in the dickey.

“Keith is a very funny, hilarious guy, and that’s our tradition to watch the movie, always making fun of cousin Eddie,” Jackson said. “Keith fits cousin Eddie very well.”

Jackson said viewing the Christmas comedy is part of the holiday tradition for her too.

“We have supper together, enjoy each other’s company and watch the movie,” Jackson said. “It’s just such a good, classic, funny movie that doesn’t have a lot of cussing. It’s a funny Christmas movie, and it’s a good time to laugh together.”

Rayborn said the family will continue to carry out the tradition.

“It’s a good way to make everyone laugh and enjoy the time together,” Rayborn said. “Lots of people have come and gone over the years, but we always have a dozen or so people hanging around.”

The Rev. Scott Green, pastor of Natchez First Assembly of God, reviews Christian movies for his website in his own time, but also considers himself a movie buff in general. Green said his favorite Christmas flick is one many people have never seen.

“I’m tempted to tell you something traditional, like ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ or ‘A Christmas Carol,’ but truth be told, I am a bit of an odd bird, and the one movie that my family and I have made a tradition in our home every year is the seldom heard-of comedy called ‘Mixed Nuts’ with Steve Martin and Adam Sandler,” Green said.

The movie focuses on the staff of a suicide hotline company about to go under at Christmastime and what it takes to keep the place open to continue saving lives.

“It is the most absurd and hysterical comedy with one zany adventure after another,” Green said. “It reveals a twisted sense of humor and none of my friends have heard of it.  Every year, we watch it with someone new and they always agree with us, ‘This is a new favorite of ours.’”

Green said if you are looking for a “true spirit of Christmas” type of message, this probably is not the film for you.

“But it’s certainly one to make you laugh in the spirit of ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’ or ‘A Christmas Story,’” Green said.

Beth Boggess, a Natchez resident, said her favorite Christmas movie is probably “The Polar Express.”

“I saw it with my grandchildren,” Boggess said. “I was impressed with the technical aspects of the production and story line.”

Boggess’ grandchildren, who live in New Mexico where they saw the movie, were 5 and 6 at the time they went to see it.

“They loved it,” Boggess said.

She said the family was so enchanted by the film, they wound up getting an electric centerpiece with a Polar Express train that wrapped around it, and a special excursion on a Polar Express tour.

At the Red Box location at Walgreens on Seargent Prentiss Drive in Natchez, Devin Carter, 19, was returning “Madea’s Family Christmas.” Carter said he wouldn’t exactly recommend the movie.

“It was alright,” Carter said. “I mean it’s funny, it’s the original Tyler Perry, but honestly I feel asleep watching it.”

Carter said his favorite Christmas movies are one in the same — “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” — the original Dr. Seuss version, and the newer production with Jim Carey.

“‘The Grinch’ is an old, classic favorite,” Carter said. “And the story with Jim Carey is hilarious.”

Justice Court Judge Charlie Vess had no trouble thinking of his favorite Christmas movie.

“Without a doubt — ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’” Vess said.

The story features a family in turmoil, and a brush with a real angel that makes all the difference.

“The first time I saw it was probably in 1958,” Vess said. “I’ve watched it almost every Christmas since then. I own it, and show it to my friends and family.”