In a year when we feel like we live in the Upside Down, too many traditions have to be put on pause till better times. But we can still enjoy some, namely the annual binge on holiday movies. Watching the same things we see every year — preferably with TV trays on the couch and some carryout from a favorite restaurant — brings a sense of normalcy.
My husband and I have been combining movie night with pizza night for extra comfort. A couple of Fridays ago, it was bar Vetti’s Royals Hot Chicken pizza (now that’s a collaboration!) while we watched a cheesy Netflix movie (does it matter which one? They’re basically all the same, right?)
The next weekend (wait for it, there’s a theme here) it was a chicken and waffle pizza from The Post while watching the "Downton Abbey" movie (OK, that’s not technically a Christmas movie, but something about it still feels holiday-ish).
While we have our tried and true movie favorites at our house, I wondered what local food and drink folks like to watch to unwind and get in the holiday spirit. Here’s what some had to share:
Kevin Ashworth, 610 Magnolia
"We watch a whole lot of 'National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation!' It’s a feel-good movie that shows the quirks of a family. Not to mention I channel my inner Clark Griswold during the holidays. Once the kids go to bed, I put Gremlins on. It’s my favorite holiday movie. Full of creepy little creatures showing the dark underbelly of consumerism!"
Max Balliet, Pizza Lupo
"Christmas is a big deal in my family. We have a long-standing tradition of a Christmas Eve dinner, followed by a Christmas Day feast with mimosas. The last few years have been crab, usually Dungeness or King with hollandaise.
After gorging and opening presents, we binge Christmas movies. 'Scrooged' is top of the list, Bill Murray is the king of sarcasm and he resonates deeply with our dry sense of humor. Dad can't get through it without mentioning how much he loves Karen Allen (Murrays love interest) or pointing out the Miles Davis cameo. The guy from the New York Dolls is in it for crying out loud, it's got everything.
A family favorite scene is the slapstick exchange between Murray and Carol Kane as the ghost of Christmas present, 'It's a toaster!' If you don't know then, you should really rewatch it."
Lindsey Johnson, Bar Expo
"The holidays are really the only time all year that I watch movies, which is probably because it’s the only time all year I take a break from work and focus just on my family and our traditions. Everyone has their favorite holiday movies in my family (my brother loves 'Home Alone 2,' dad is a 'National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation' guy), but my mom made sure to make her favorite a family tradition. She is a big fan of 'It’s a Wonderful Life,' and she brings us all together for our annual watch during the holiday season.
Of course, the themes of self-worth, community and celebrating what you have are always prescient, but this year they seem even more important than ever. While I won’t be able to watch 'It’s a Wonderful Life' with my mom in person this year, I’m looking forward to a virtual watch party this weekend. The holidays are an especially tough time for folks — pandemic or not — and I know that so many in our industry are suffering. Please, reach out to friends, family, or even me, if you’re feeling like George Bailey. I promise you will find the wonder in your life.
And, if you need professional mental health this season (or really any time), IHeardYou.Org (Heard) offers free mental healthcare and support groups for people in the hospitality industry. If you’re lucky, you’ll get paired with my mom who is a volunteer therapist for the program."
Josh Moore, Volare
"'A Christmas Story.' When I was a kid my mom and I watched it every year, often while we threaded popcorn chains for the Christmas tree and decorated the tree. It always cracked me up, especially the 'you’ll shoot your eye out.' We still joke about it to this day. And it’s always a Christmas movie must-watch still as an adult
Second, 'Elf' has become a new yearly watch tradition with [wife] Lindsay and [son] Gibson. We love Will Ferrel and he’s amazing as Buddy the Elf. We love to watch it and drink homemade eggnog. When he and fake Santa get in a scuffle in the department store it always makes us laugh— his sleigh flying when Christmas spirit returns is just awesome, too."
Eric Morris, Faces Bar/Bistro
"Jack Lemmon is my favorite Christmas actor. What he did with 'The Apartment' and of course, 'Grumpy Old Men' will always be one of my favorites. They touch on Christmas movies but the raunchy comedy stemmed from that early on always gave me a laugh.
We weren't exactly the 'A Christmas Story,' "Home Alone" type family, so watching those non-traditional flicks like 'Die Hard,' 'Gremlins,' etc, always made me excited around that time.
So getting older I came to enjoy things like 'The Ref,' 'Krampus,' and 'Bad Santa.' And yes, I might eventually shoot my eye out if not careful, but I'll take my chances because getting my mouth washed out with soap is far more worth it on those classics!
Honorable family food mentions include stuffing, gravy on everything, green bean casserole, Lil smokies cooked in grape jam and drinking my mom's sparkling wine when she wasn't looking."
Tavis Rockwell, LouVino
"'National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.' I’ve always found it very funny and true to how the holiday season goes, ups and downs, and crazy family. It can almost make your family seem more normal! 'It’s the holidays, and we’re all in misery!'"
Tell Dana! Send your restaurant “Dish” to Dana McMahan at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow @danamac on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Louisville foodies dish on their favorite Christmas movies