While writing out Christmas cards and channel surfing last night, I happened upon the 1949 film Holiday Affair on TCM. It's about a widow torn between two men at Christmas. She has a son. Her husband has died in World War II.
It's not one of the classics of Christmas, though it has a following of some kind. But I watched it until the end, mesmerized by Christmas past when department stores were huge, when little boys prayed for toy trains because all the adults rode in real trains (the final scene takes place on a New York-California train on New Year's Eve, party in the train!)
The scenes moved slowly, as they did in old movies. And of course, it was in black and white.
A few years ago, when I did a story on the Crescent Department store of old and its famous Christmas decorations, one of the psychologists I interviewed told me the word nostalgia is not a warm and fuzzy word. Indeed, it's formed from two Greek roots. One means “return home.” The other “pain.”
I went to bed feeling a little blue, filled with nostalgia for Christmases in a simpler time. For lives lived in slower scenes, for the golden era of trains.
Which Christmas movies evoke nostalgia for you?
(Christmas Tree at Crescent Department store, 1958, from S-R archives)