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Christmas is a time to give thanks for all the wonderful things that we have. It’s a time to take a look around and say “look how lucky we are to have all this turkey and canned cranberry sauce.” Getting together as a family to reflect on the joys of kith and kin are what Christmas is all about. Mom spends all day in the kitchen preparing the beast, and Dad takes the day to lounge around in the living room in front of a nice all-American game of football. It’s beautiful wouldn’t you say?

Well not at my house. In my family watching football is on par with getting a root canal. We prefer to watch movies about football that limit the actual game-watching time to quick 30-second increments. This is then followed up by Christmas movies and a rousing game of Scrabble. So, don’t feel un-American if you don’t like football either, it is just as fun to watch movies about football instead.

Rudy is by far the best football movie of all time. Sean Astin, son of Patty Duke and John “Gomez Addams” Astin, is perfect as a working-class pipsqueak with a dream to play for Notre Dame. If everyone had even a little of this young man’s determination and to work ethic the world would be a better place. It doesn’t matter how many times you see this movie, if you don’t tear up when they carry Rudy off the field you may want to look into getting a heart transplant. Rudy is so tiny and adorable he makes me want to put him in my pocket and take him home.

Any Given Sunday is the most recent Oliver Stone vehicle to crash and burn. The film has an all-star cast including Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Jaime Foxx, Dennis Quaid, LL Cool J, Anne-Margaret and Lauren Holly. It is the story of the fictional Miami Sharks, coached by Pacino and owned by Diaz. This movie did fairly crappy business in the theaters but in truth was actually not bad. The chemistry between Foxx and Pacino is believable and makes the film worth watching. Quaid plays the John Elway character that gets injured and is replaced by third string quarterback Foxx, who then becomes a huge celebrity and gets too big for his britches. With great camera work and a fast pace this movie is highly underrated.

Last on the football list is The Program starring James Caan, Kristy Swanson, Craig Sheffer, Omar Epps and Halle Berry. This is a college football movie that came out when I was in high school and was a big favorite at parties. The movie perfectly follows the sport flick formula. Sheffer plays the misunderstood quarterback with a heart of gold, Swanson is the girlfriend, Epps is the running back pulled out of the ghetto, Berry is the girlfriend and Caan is the grizzled coach with a soft spot for his prot?g?. It sucks, but it is fun for the whole family.

As for Christmas movies please watch A Christmas Story. This is one of the funniest movies ever made. The story of a boy named Ralphie and his quest for a BB gun has all the elements of a heartwarming Christmas tale. It is hard not to feel his pain when his mom shoots down his request for the elusive gun with the no-nonsense phrase “you’ll shoot your eye out.” Almost every scene in the film is funny, in particular the voice-over dialogue of the adult Ralphie.

Happy Holidays.