As a Jewish kid growing up in The Bronx—in a neighborhood of mostly other Jews—I had little exposure to Christmas, other than learning it wasn’t “our” holiday. Even so, I enjoyed many of the Christmas movies that played all through December on our 12-inch, black & white television. My two favorites were Miracle on 34th Street (1947) and A Christmas Carol (1951). I thought it might be fun to list some quotes from these two gems.
THE REAL SANTA WORKS AT MACY’S
Winner of three Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actor for Edmund Gwenn, Miracle on 34th Street starred John Payne, Maureen O’Hara, and nine-year-old Natalie Wood as Susan. An elderly man named Kris Kringle (Gwenn), working as Santa Claus at Macy’s in New York City, insists that he is the real deal. When Kris is taken to court, it’s up to attorney Fred Gailey (Payne) to prove that he is indeed the one and only Santa Claus. If he cannot, the old fellow might just wind up in a looney bin.
Fred: “Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to. Don’t you see? It’s not just Kris that’s on trial, it’s everything he stands for. It’s kindness and joy and love and all the other intangibles.”
Susan, whose mom, Doris (O’Hara), has taught her that fairytales are bunk: “I believe, I believe… It’s silly, but I believe.”
Doris’s boss: “But…but maybe he’s only a little crazy, like painters or composers or…or some of those men in Washington.”
Kris: “Christmas isn’t just a day, it’s a frame of mind…and that’s what’s been changing. That’s why I’m glad I’m here, maybe I can do something about it.”
Susan, whose greatest wish is to live in a house somewhere in the country: “If you’re really Santa Claus, you can get it for me. And if you can’t, you’re only a nice man with a white beard like Mother says.”
Kris: “You see, Mrs. Walker, this is quite an opportunity for me. For the past fifty years or so I’ve been getting more and more worried about Christmas. Seems we’re all so busy trying to beat the other fellow in making things go faster and look shinier and cost less that Christmas and I are sort of getting lost in the shuffle.”
Fred: “We intend to prove that Mr. Kringle IS Santa Claus!”
There are numerous versions of A Christmas Carol, but many agree that the 1951 film, starring Alistair Sim as mean miser Ebenezer Scrooge, is the definitive one. I have to agree. In this beloved Charles Dickens story, Scrooge is visited by a group of ghosts on Christmas Eve and is forever changed.
Jacob Marley’s Ghost: “I wear the chain I forged in life! I made it link by link and yard by yard! I gartered it on of my own free will and by my own free will, I wore it!”
Scrooge, to his clerk, Bob Cratchit: “You’ll want the whole day off tomorrow, I suppose.” When Bob replies, “If quite convenient, sir,” Scrooge tells him, “It’s not convenient. And it’s not fair! If I stopped you half a crown for it, you’d think yourself ill-used, wouldn’t you? But you don’t think me ill-used if I pay a day’s wages for no work, hmm?”
The Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge two starving children. Scrooge asks, “Spirit, are they yours?” The reply: “They are Man’s. This boy is Ignorance, this girl is Want. Beware them both, but most of all, beware this boy.” Scrooge says, “But have they no refuge, no resource?” The ghost echoes Scrooge’s earlier harsh words: “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?”
Marley’s Ghost: “Ah! You do not know the weight and length of strong chain you bear yourself! It was as full and as long as this seven Christmas eves ago and you have labored on it since. Ah, it is a ponderous chain!”
Alice, who Scrooge had loved: “May you be happy in the life you’ve chosen.” Scrooge’s pissed-off reply: “Thank you, I shall be!”
Ghost of Christmas Past: “Alice. The same Alice you had sworn to love for all eternity. She is not changed by the harshness of the world, but you are.”
Scrooge, to the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come: “Before I draw nearer to that stone, tell me! Are these the shadows of things that must be, or are they the shadows of things that MIGHT be?”
Scrooge, to his nephew’s wife: “Can you forgive a pig-headed old fool with no eyes to see with and no ears to hear with all these years?”
Scrooge, to Bob Cratchit: “Well, my friend, I’m not going to beat around the bush. I’m simply not going to stand this sort of thing any longer. Which leaves me no choice, but to…raise your salary.”
Scrooge: “I don’t deserve to be so happy…but I can’t help it!”
Finally, the story’s most famous words, spoken by Bob Cratchit’s son, Tiny Tim: “God bless us, every one!”
And from me: Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!