Enjoying lights, movies ushers in holiday happiness

I can always do without snow and the subsequent shoveling and slippery roads, but I do have a few essentials I need to feel like the holiday season is here.

Obviously, Christmas lights and other decorations make the holidays merry and bright. 

This year my family and I hung 14,726 lights. It’s a constant battle to keep them all illuminated all the time, and I’m still trailing my late grandfather, Roland Vogts, who had anywhere between 20,000 and 25,000 lights up in a given year. Still, it is a labor of love that I hope to continue growing and expanding.

In fact, to add a new wrinkle to our display this year, we synced our lights to music. It’s not perfect yet, but I’m thrilled to be dabbling in this type of show. All a person has to do is tune their car stereo to our station and enjoy.

Also, it’s not the holidays without movies.

I watch the 1989 “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” multiple times. I also have to catch the 1983 “A Christmas Story” at least once despite it being 40 years old this season, and the 2022 installment called “A Christmas Story Christmas” provides an enjoyable look at Ralphie’s life as an adult. 

I enjoy many of the adaptations of “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. As such, a perennial favorite is “Scrooged,” which stars Bill Murray, and the 2022 adaptation from Ryan Reynolds and Will Farrell called “Spirited” is fantastic fun.

Though debates rage about whether or not it is a Christmas movie, I firmly believe “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is a Christmas tale.

The title should be evidence enough, but the storyline seals the deal. Sure, it takes place in Halloween Town, but the story focuses on bringing Christmas into the world of ghosts and goblins. Watching it this year is particularly poignant as the film turns 30 years old since it debuted in 1993. 

Though not Christmas-oriented, “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” always merits a viewing, and it turns 50 years old this year. Other animated films such as “A Charlie Brown Christmas” from 1965, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” from 1964, and “Frosty the Snowman” from 1969 are all classics and get watched whenever they come on. 

Granted, I enjoy many other Christmas movies. However, I don’t seek them out like the ones I’ve mentioned, but there is one more that I love to watch, which doesn’t get the recognition it deserves when it comes to Christmas movies. 

It’s a musical. It has zombies. It is 2017’s “Anna and the Apocalypse.”

In the film, a zombie infection starts spreading during the Christmas holiday, quickly turning almost the entire town of Little Haven, Scotland, into a walking horde. This leaves a group of high school students to fight the undead. 

It’s gory and hilarious, punctuated by catchy musical numbers. If you haven’t seen it, you need to add it to your watchlist

Of course, the lights or the movies don’t matter without my loved ones. I’m blessed to have amazing friends and family. They are an incredible support network, and any time I am around them, it is a great time. 

Also, I have the best wife I could ask for. She keeps me in line while also being my biggest cheerleader and an inspiring mother to our children, who bring joy into my life on a daily basis, even when they push me to the brink of insanity.

So whether you celebrate the holidays looking at lights, snuggling up on the couch to watch a movie, or any other tradition you prefer, be sure to take stock of the blessings in your life. Cherish your time with those who are most important to you and have a merry Christmas. 

Todd R. Vogts, Ph.D., is a native of Canton, a resident of McPherson County, and an assistant professor of media at Sterling College. He can be contacted with questions or comments via his website at www.toddvogts.com.

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About toddvogts 843 Articles
Todd R. Vogts, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of media at Sterling College in Kansas. Previously, he taught yearbook, newspaper, newsmagazine, and online journalism in various Kansas high schools, and he ran a weekly newspaper in rural Kansas. He continues to freelance as a professional journalist from time to time. Also, Vogts is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), the Journalism Education Association (JEA), and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), among others. He earned his Master Journalism Educator (MJE) certification from JEA in 2022. When he’s not teaching or writing, he runs his mobile disk jockey service and takes part in other entrepreneurial ventures. He can be reached at twitter.com/toddvogts or via his website at www.toddvogts.com.