Traditions: Skip 'It's a Wonderful Life'

  • Article by: BILL WARD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 12, 2011 - 7:37 AM

At one Maple Grove home, Jimmy Stewart and other holiday-movie icons are nowhere to be found around Christmastime. Instead, the family hunkers down for "Inappropriate Movie Night."

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Jimmy Stewart in the 1946 movie "It's a Wonderful Life"

Editor's note: This article is part of our lighthearted weekly series in which we asked Minnesota families to share their nontraditional holiday traditions.

It's a tradition that goes back for decades: After Christmas Eve festivities, the family makes a boatload of popcorn, grabs some pillows and blankets and gathers in front of the television to watch a movie.

But at this Maple Grove abode, Jimmy Stewart, Will Ferrell and Ralphie are nowhere to be found.

Instead, Marlene Gaige's family hunkers down with the likes of "The Green Mile" and "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels." Yes, every Dec. 24 is "Inappropriate Movie Night" at this household, with "merry and bright" replaced by "bawdy and dark."

It wasn't always this way. Gaige, 50, and her four children used to watch her cherished holiday chestnuts. But when the kids entered their teen years, "it was nearly impossible" to stay that course, Gaige said. When oldest child Kris gave brother Ted a DVD of "Fight Club," a majority ruled on a new viewing direction.

They skipped right past holiday-themed dark comedies such as "Bad Santa" and "The Ref" to the farcical ("Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle") and even the blasphemous ("Dogma"). They did relent a bit and ease youngest sibling Alec into the fold with "Little Miss Sunshine."

Through it all, Gaige has "snuggled down" with her kids -- and her mom, Carroll, who "is often quite puzzled regarding our choices." But she doesn't stick around for the second half of the holiday double-feature, when her offspring "stay up and watch an even more inappropriate movie."

It's a safe bet that Alastair Sim, Chevy Chase and Cindy Lou Who are not on the docket.

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