A Muslim girl’s favourite Christmas movies

Five movies for a spectacularly secular Christmas

Films to get you in the holiday spirit.
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Culturally and religiously, I grew up Muslim. As much as I love celebrating Eid, Ramadan, and other Muslim holidayI’m sure they exist, and I ask you don’t make fun of me for not knowing anyI was always jealous of other kids who got to celebrate Christmas. I desperately wanted to be a part of the ugly sweater and sugar cookie fun, but the religious connotation was enough to keep my family from celebrating.

The only holiday cheer I could soak up then was in the form of holiday movies. Below is a carefully curated list of my favourites that I grew up watching and still revisit every year. So—Muslim or otherwise—grab some hot cocoa and settle in for a spectacularly secular Christmas.

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

There’s around a 50 per cent chance that you find the Muppets incredibly weird. If you don’t, I would recommend checking out The Muppet Christmas Carol. It’s a hilarious take on Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol, which itself celebrates the spiritual rather than religious aspects of the holiday season.

It’s also always a treat to see Bob Cratchit, skillfully portrayed by Kermit the Frog, standing in the middle of a cobblestone street screaming internally. I’d say it upstages the acting chops of Sir Michael Caine, who was somehow convinced to play Ebenezer Scrooge.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

Is it horrifying to see Jim Carrey play the Grinch? Yes. Were my parents still more accepting of me being glued to the TV watching this rather than any Christmas movie that had a church in it? Again, yes.

I loved reading Dr. Seuss books growing up, so I wasn’t as creeped out by the Grinch’s warped expressions or unsettling demeanour as I should’ve been. If you can get past the alarming makeup and prosthetics, it’s a pretty funny watch—I understand more and more of the jokes in the movie every year. I also discovered, as I got older, that this movie is fun to watch when you’ve had a few.

Elf (2003)

Growing up, I ‘wasn’t like other girls’, so I worshipped Zooey Deschanel. I came to see her play Jovie in this movie and I stayed because—as hilariously as it’s depicted—I was deeply touched watching Buddy reconnect with his biological father.

Elf will always be underrated because no one can ever give it enough praise. This is a must to re-watch every year on Christmas eve.

Merry Christmas, Drake and Josh (2008)

I’m pretty sure Drake Bell is cancelled—but keeping this movie in your Christmas rotation doesn’t have to mean you’re still supporting him. It just means you should make sure to stream this special illegally, because it combines everything I love about both Drake and Josh and Christmas movies in general.

The plot is a Nickelodeon brand of dark: Drake and Josh must give a foster family the best Christmas of their lives to avoid going to prison. It’s pretty funny though, and at the end of the movie, Crazy Steve uses blocks of cheese to make snow.

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

Every year I forget the plot of this movie and am delighted when I watch it to find that it’s got just the right mix of holiday cheer and anti-capitalist rhetoric. I have and will always maintain that Charlie Brown is depressed because he’s a socialist among brainwashed fascists. Go Charlie!

It’s much more religious than everything else on this list—there are a couple of bible verses laced throughout—but my parents always went on autopilot when a cartoon was on, or maybe they wanted me to enjoy one quintessential holiday special. Either way, please don’t tell them.

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