Top 10 Emotionally Devastating Christmas Moments
#10 – The world’s most depressing Santa Claus (Trading Places)
John Landis’ 1983 comedy Trading Places centres on con artist Billy Ray (Eddie Murphy) and rich investor Louis (Dan Aykroyd), whose places in society are switched by two cruel billionaires. In this scene, Louis – driven to the edge by being cut off from his friends, house and bank account – sneaks into a party as Santa, steals a salmon, gets thrown off a bus and attempts suicide.
Xmas Factor: Duh. He’s dressed as Santa.
Sob Factor: Duh. He tries to kill himself. And what a waste of a whole salmon. What would that cost, like thirty, forty pounds sterling?
#9 – An adorable green child is persecuted by his classmates (How the Grinch Stole Christmas)
This is a Christmas classic, telling the story of a horrid green creature who hates Christmas and everything it stands for. In this scene, we learn why…
Xmas Factor: He’s making a beautiful Christmas angel for his beloved. Hopefully when he gives it to her, they’ll hug and go back home for mince pies and lashings of joy.
Sob Factor: He’s ostracised already because of his unusual looks and still he goes to the effort of shaving his whiskers and crafting a beautiful handmade gift for his love. And what does he get in return? Hatred. Hatred and fear. Merry Christmas, ugly children of the world.
#8 – A Christmas Eve suicide attempt (The Apartment)
This comedy drama from Billy Wilder centres on Jack Lemmon’s character, C.C. Baxter, a man who lends his apartment to the men he works for so they can conduct affairs. Into his life arrives Fran (Shirley MacLaine), who – in this scene (3:30 minutes in) – attempts suicide in his flat on Christmas Eve, after discovering at the office Christmas party that her lover is seeing someone else.
Xmas Factor: It’s Christmas Eve! And there’s just been an office party! What could be more fun? Coworkers smooching under the mistletoe, ladies photocopying their bums, Tim and Dawn FINALLY getting together. You know. Great times! “Hey everybody, you’re all getting Christmas bonuses! And puppies! Puppies for all!” – the boss, wearing a Santa outfit, doling out Heston Blumenthal mince pies.
Sob Factor: This Christmas Eve, the only bonus everyone will be getting is heartbreak and death. And don’t expect it to be giftwrapped.
#7 – Pigeon lady is heartbroken (Home Alone 2)
In Home Alone 2, little Kevin McAllister is stranded again (what are the chances!). He keeps seeing this weird lady with loads of pigeons, but after she helps him escape from the baddies he changes his mind about her. They retreat to her home (the attic of some huge concert hall for some reason), listen to Christmas music and she explains the whole hobo look.
Xmas Factor: They’re listening to an orchestra play “O Come All Ye Faithful”. You know, the one that everyone sings right at the end of the Christmas morning service just when you’re about to finally get out of church, go home and open all your presents. It’s a carol forever associated in our hearts with the relative nearness of new Barbies.
Sob Factor: “Don’t be silly,” you’re thinking, “she’s just a hobo! A dirty bum! And they certainly don’t have feelings!” Our sentiments EXACTLY friends. But then you learn that she used to have a job AND a husband. Now all she has is a fuck ton of pigeons and a Macauley Culkin. May God be with her.
#6 – Nothing good ever comes of ice sculpting (Edward Scissorhands)
It’s Edward Scissorhands, everyone’s favourite emo hairdresser. In this scene, Edward is making one of his ice sculptures and Winona is having a dance around only for Edward to accidentally slash her hand. Well he does have scissorhands. This would be less of a problem if they were those safety scissors. Or pipe cleaners.
Xmas Factor: It’s Christmas and he’s making ice sculptures. Plus, look at the snow! This guy actually invented snow! What a guy.
Sob Factor: He accidentally harms his beloved Kim and then is bullied by Anthony Michael Hall: “You can’t touch anything without destroying it”. Totally heartbreaking.
#5 – Young Frank has his spirit crushed by his father (Scrooged)
Scrooged is a modern retelling of the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol in which the Scrooge character is a soulless TV executive who hates the holidays (we’re starting to hate them too). In this clip, we learn why.
Xmas Factor: It’s Christmas. It’s the Christmas Carol. Whatever. This list is starting to become a terrible burden.
Sob Factor: He’s only a little boy! What’s a little boy going to do with five pounds of veal?! He wants a train set, that’s all he wants in the world. And all he gets is the dead flesh of a baby cow, and a harsh life lesson from his mean old dad. Talk about having your Christmas spirit crushed.
#4 – Snape is cheating on you, Professor Trelawney (Love Actually)
It’s Love Actually, you all know the drill. And it’s in Spanish! Feliz Navidad.
Xmas Factor: The scene opens with Emma T. opening a Christmas present. What should happen here is that it’s that butt ugly necklace and then her and Snape kiss and it’s all Christmassy.
Sob Factor: As we’ve covered before, this moment is a BFF weepy favourite. It’s a combination of things: Emma Thompson’s wonderfully realistic crying; the direction, with the camera framing her standing alone, cutting back to family photos; and of course Joni Mitchell playing in the background. How could you do it, Snape? How COULD you? We’d Avada Kedavra you right now if we could.
#3 – An adorable green sock is DEAD (The Muppets Christmas Carol)
Quick question: wouldn’t Miss Piggy’s and Kermit’s kids be terrifying frog/pig hybrids? Green-skinned piglets with webbed feet? Amphibious pigs? They’d be amphibipigs, for crying out loud. Watch from 5 minutes in for the unrealistic children.
Xmas Factor: It’s the muppets celebrating Christmas! This should be great.
Sob Factor: A tiny, adorable green sock is dead and gone and everyone is saying things like, “Tiny Tim always loved watching the ducks on the river”. Need we say more, you heartless beasts? For the real kicker, pause at 7’32” and check out Tim’s little cane, scarf and hat resting on the chair. A shrine to the dead amphibipiglet.
#2 – A terrifying parallel universe (It’s A Wonderful Life)
It’s A Wonderful Life – possibly the most famous Christmas film ever? It tells the story of a man who loses a bunch of money and tries to kill himself. You know, Christmas stuff. Watch from 1:38:40 for suicide funsies, 1:46:00 onwards for parallel universe lols.
Xmas Factor: It’s set at Christmas/it’s snowy.
Sob Factor: Ha! This is so depressing! The nicest man in the world wants to kill himself and then has to bear witness to a terrifying parallel universe – only marginally less awful than the one in Back to the Future 2.
#1 – Farewell, my snowy friend (The Snowman)
The Snowman is a Christmas classic, featuring lovely animation from Raymond Briggs’ book and – of course – the dulcet tones of a wee choir boy (not Aled Jones, apparently) singing haunting theme song “Walking In The Air”. Watch from 6:55 onwards to capture the little boy’s wide-eyed, Christmas-morn joy. And the subsequent tragedy.
Xmas Factor: What could possibly be more Christmassy? A little boy builds a snowman that comes to life and then flies him around the world, where he meets loads of other snowmen and then Father Christmas!! That sounds so exciting we all just wet ourselves in unison!
Sob Factor: The snowman, the magical wonderful flying friend DIES. We’re fine with kids films being sad. But this is a whole other level. Where’s the redemption?! There’s no room for redemption! It just ends with the little boy looking at the melted remains (i.e. corpse) of his snowman friend. What is the message here? “Don’t get too attached to your childhood friends, kids, they’re all inevitably going to melt”? Is that the message?! This ending shits all over Christmas Day, like when your cat eats a strand of tinsel off the tree and then walks around the rest of the day with said tinsel trailing out of its bum, and eventually you have to bite the bullet and pull the tinsel out and for the rest of the day none of your family can look you in the eye. That is the literal equivalent of the ending to The Snowman.
How do you feel now? Super depressed? Good. That’s the way it should be. Now if you don’t mind, we’re going to go lie down and close our eyes for a long, long time and hopefully when we open them Christmas will be over. Either that or we’ll all be dead.