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Christmas classics

BIOLOGISTS USE THE WORD “zeitgeber” to describe a physical stimulus that kicks the biological clock into gear. For example, light streaming through the window in the morning and birdsong are zeitgebers signaling that it’s time to wake up.

Scientists haven’t devoted a lot of attention to the role of zeitgebers in stimulating holiday cheer, gift buying and goodwill toward men. In some climes, it’s probably connected to frosty windowpanes and snowy rooftops. In L.A., it may be the first appearance of Santas in shopping malls, or those giant, flashy decorations they string across Hollywood Boulevard every year. But for people across the nation, a prime signal that the holidays are approaching is the reappearance of classic Christmas movies and TV shows, many of which we’ve enjoyed since childhood and have seen so many times we can recite the dialogue by heart.

Here are a few of our favorite snippets. May they stimulate peace, comfort, joy and a very Merry Christmas to all.

“Blackadder’s Christmas Carol” (1988)

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Lord Edmund Blackadder: I trust Christmas brings to you its traditional mix of good food and violent stomach cramp.

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“A Charlie Brown Christmas” (1965)

(Sally Brown’s letter to Santa)

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Sally: Dear Santa Claus, how have you been? Did you have a nice summer? How is your wife? I have been extra good this year, so I have a long list of presents that I want. Please note the size and color of each item, and send as many as possible. If it seems too complicated, make it easy on yourself: Just send money. How about 10s and 20s?

Lucy: I know how you feel about all this Christmas business, getting depressed and all that. It happens to me every year. I never get what I really want. I always get a lot of stupid toys or a bicycle or clothes or something like that.

Charlie Brown: What is it you want?

Lucy: Real estate.

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“Scrooge” (1951)

Jacob Marley: In life, my spirit never rose beyond the limits of our money-changing holes! Now I am doomed to wander without rest or peace, incessant torture and remorse!

Ebenezer: But it was only that you were a good man of business, Jacob!

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Jacob Marley: Business? Mankind was my business! Their common welfare was my business! And it is at this time of the rolling year that I suffer most!

Spirit of Christmas Present: So! Is your heart still unmoved toward us, then?

Ebenezer: I’m too old and beyond hope! Go and redeem some younger, more promising creature, and leave me to keep Christmas in my own way!

Spirit of Christmas Present: Mortal! We Spirits of Christmas do not live only one day of our year. We live the whole 365. So is it true of the child born in Bethlehem. He does not live in men’s hearts one day of the year, but in all days of the year. You have chosen not to seek him in your heart. Therefore, you will come with me and seek him in the hearts of men of goodwill.

Mrs. Dilber: Are you all right, Mr. Scrooge?

Ebenezer: [ecstatic] I ... I don’t know. I don’t know anything. I never did know anything. (Starts laughing.) But now I know that I don’t know anything!

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“The Muppet Christmas Carol” (1992)

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Gonzo: My name is Charles Dickens.

Rizzo the Rat: And my name is Rizzo the Rat ... wait a second! You’re not Charles Dickens!

Gonzo: I am too!

Rizzo the Rat: No! A blue furry Charles Dickens who hangs out with a rat?

Gonzo: Absolutely!

Rizzo the Rat: Charles Dickens was a 19th century novelist! A genius!

Gonzo: Why, thank you.

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“The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993)

Jack Skellington: (singing) And on a dark cold night, when the moon is high, he flies into the air like a vulture in the sky! And they call him Sandy Claws!

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“The Polar Express” (2004)

The Conductor: Seeing is believing ... but sometimes the most real things in this world are the things we can’t see.

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“White Christmas” (1954)

Judy Haynes: We’re booked for the holidays.

Phil Davis: Vermont, huh?

Judy Haynes: Oh, Vermont should be beautiful this time of year, with all that snow.

Phil Davis: Yeah, you know something ... Vermont should be beautiful this time of year, with all that snow.

Judy Haynes: That’s what I just said.

Phil Davis: We seem to be getting a little mixed up.

Judy Haynes: Maybe it’s the music.

Phil Davis: Maybe it isn’t only the music.

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“L.A. Confidential” (1997)

Sid Hudgens: “It’s Christmas Eve in the City of Angels and while decent citizens sleep the sleep of the righteous, hopheads prowl for marijuana not knowing that a man is coming to stop them! Celebrity crime-stopper Jack Vincennes, scourge of grasshoppers and dope fiends everywhere!” Ya’ like it, Jackie-Boy?

Jack Vincennes: Yeah. Subtle.

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“How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (1966)

Narrator: He puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas ... perhaps ... means a little bit more!

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“Home Alone” (1990)

Kate McCallister: (to the Scranton ticket agent) This is Christmas. The season of perpetual hope. And I don’t care if I have to get out on your runway and hitchhike. If it costs me everything I own, if I have to sell my soul to the devil himself, I am going to get home to my son.

Kevin McCallister: This is extremely important. Will you please tell Santa that instead of presents this year, I just want my family back. No toys, nothing but Peter, Kate, Buzz, Megan, Linnie and Jeff. And my aunt and my cousins. And if he has time, my Uncle Frank. OK?

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“It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946)

George Bailey: (praying) Clarence! Clarence! Help me, Clarence! Get me back! Get me back, I don’t care what happens to me! Get me back to my wife and kids! Help me Clarence, please! Please! I wanna live again. I wanna live again. Please, God, let me live again.

Clarence: Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?

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“Miracle on 34th Street” (1947)

Kris Kringle: You see, Mrs. Walker, this is quite an opportunity for me. For the past 50 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 Gailey: Your Honor, every one of these letters is addressed to Santa Claus. The Post Office has delivered them. Therefore the Post Office Department, a branch of the federal government, recognizes this man Kris Kringle to be the one and only Santa Claus.

Judge Henry X. Harper: Uh, since the United States government declares this man to be Santa Claus, this court will not dispute it. Case dismissed.

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“A Christmas Story” (1983)

Goggles: I like Santa.

Ralphie: Yeah.

Narrator: Let’s face it, most of us are scoffers. But moments before zero hour, it did not pay to take chances.


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