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Hollywood celebrates the holidays

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By Stephanie Holland

Henry Winkler as Uncle Ralph, an eccentric former NYPD officer. (Hallmark Channel)

By Stephanie Holland

The holiday season is a time of family, giving, togetherness and warmth. Everyone is a little nicer and happier during this special time of year.

Helping people get into the holiday spirit are movies and specials, new and old, that outline the true meaning of the season.

This list offers the best the season has to offer and examines why they stand the test of time.

“A Charlie Brown Christmas”It isn’t officially Christmas until this special airs. We follow Charlie Brown through an exasperating day of trying to prepare the Christmas pageant. As his friends become increasingly self-centered and troublesome, Charlie loses faith in the true meaning of Christmas. It is only when Linus stands up and tells the story of the Baby Jesus that everyone remembers what they are celebrating. The audience is then treated to the classic scene where all the characters decorate Charlie Brown’s sad tree and dance and sing.

The joy that this special can bring to even the most hard-hearted cynic enforces the power of Charles Schulz to make his stories relatable to all audiences. Charlie Brown is the everyman who gets so caught up in celebrating the holiday, he forgets to celebrate the meaning behind it.

“It’s a Wonderful Life”Everyone knows the classic tale of George Bailey, the man who loses all of Bedford Falls’ money and decides to kill himself.

A rookie angel named Clarence intervenes and shows him what life would be like if he were never born.

George never realized the impact of his life, but when Clarence shows him all the things that have been changed for the worse without him, George begins to wonder if he is making the right decision. In this alternate universe, the town is now controlled by the evil Mr. Potter and all those that George helped, saved and loved are now dead or unhappy.

“It’s A Wonderful Life” is the pre-eminent Christmas movie that is shown several times between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the beauty of it is that the story is timeless so audiences never tire of seeing it. It is the ultimate tale of how one man can make a difference in the lives of so many.

“Four Christmases”Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon play Kate and Brad, a couple who avoid family entanglements every year by enjoying the holidays in an exotic locale.

Unfortunately, this year their divorced parents find out about their plan and they must now celebrate four Christmases in one day.

“Four Christmases” tells a story of blended and mixed families that many people can relate to in this day and age.

Through their familial encounters Kate and Brad discover each other’s deepest and most embarassing secrets.

Led by Oscar winner Witherspoon and superstar Vaughn, the film features an all-star supporting cast that includes Jon Voight, Robert Duvall, and Jon Favreau.

“Four Christamses” opens on Nov. 26-just in time to enjoy with the entire family.

“The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”This Hallmark Channel original movie is about a retired cop who must remind his busy niece of the true maning of Christmas.

The film’s legendary star Henry Winkler, spoke to reporters on a conference call about the film and his long career.

About working on a holiday film, Winkler said, “the crew has created Christmas inside the house you’re in…so it gives you a very warm feeling.”

Brooke Burns co-stars as Winkler’s niece and Warren Christie plays the mysterious stranger who helps bring the holiday spirit to town.

“The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” premieres on Hallmark Channel Dec. 13 at 9 p.m.

Kate (REESE WITHERSPOON) and Brad (VINCE VAUGHN) discover the pitfalls of holding a baby in New Line Cinema’s romantic comedy, “Four Christmases” (Paramount Pictures)

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