• John Cavender

SutherlandGold’s Favorite Holiday Stories and Memories

When my dad insists we watch “Home Alone” (again!), I have a distinct feeling that I’ve only just seen it. Of course, I have — a year ago. He takes out that DVD with the screaming Culkin cover each December, and I feel like I know every thump, bump, and yelp of the movie by heart. (“Merry Christmas ya filthy animal.”

Yalda and Santa

But to my dad, the movie isn’t whooping baddies with trip wires and falling clothes irons. As we sit on the couch watching the credits roll, he smiles and says it’s all about families sticking together. You might not like them every day, but banishing yourself from your family is wrong. We need to put the time in, my dad concludes, to be there for each other. And here I thought the film was all about the joys of protecting the home front.

At SutherlandGold we like to reflect on the stories, movies, and books that resonate most with us this time of year. There is something to be said for the pleasure of tales embroidered with tinsel and Santa Claus cameos, but we believe that it’s the compelling messages of certain stories that make them enduring classics.

Account Executive, Taylor Neverman recalls seeing “The Santa Clause” at a young age and loving the idea that her father could be Santa Claus, like Tim Allen’s character as a regular dad turned into Saint Nick. While the story includes all kinds of hijinks like elves rescuing Allen from jail, the story depicts a father who will go to the ends of the earth to support the child he cares for. Children viewers can look to this dad Santa to represent the members of their own families who have worked to make their holidays special.

Katie with her brother


Our Content Strategist, Michelle Threadgould loves Truman Capote’s “A Christmas Memory.” It’s a short story done in Capote’s classic, southern gothic noir style, and it’s based on growing up with his aunt, a poor rag-picker in Louisiana. All year, his aunt saved her coins to purchase the ingredients to make dozens of gifts for her relatives: the most decadent fruitcakes you’ve ever imagined. The way he describes the whiskey, cinnamon, candied fruit, and caramelized bread, you feel as if you’re right there in the kitchen with him, dancing and boozing with his beloved auntie. The story is about those memories, and the lasting family bonds that stick with you after Christmas, the fire you remember after a loved one is gone.

To Associate Account Executive, Marisa Steck, Christmas is both a time of tradition and new memories that she’s seen formed through her 8-year-old sister’s eyes. When Marisa was little, her favorite part of Christmas was fantasizing about what Santa does all year long; how hard the elves were working on getting her present just right, and listening for the footsteps of Santa’s reindeer on the roof the night before Christmas. Now Marisa’s sister is obsessed with Elf on the Shelf. Her sister artfully described the Elf’s daily adventures, relaying the joys of trying to discover where the Elf had gone to — from hanging on the chandelier to eating the cookies (that Dad said he didn’t eat), and finally, to appearing on top of the tree in place of the star. Sometimes the best stories are those which we can see through the eyes of someone young or in Marisa’s case — Elf on a Shelf.

Marisa with presents


For Account Director, Katie Warmuth Jaros, the story of Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer endures because of its encouragement of inclusion. The story may have been created as a department store pamphlet, but the message continues on through iteration after iteration of books and movies. It is no doubt that the story’s emphasis on the importance of embracing each of our unique differences has solidified the story’s status as a classic. It reminds readers or viewers that the holidays are a time to acknowledge and value those among us who may have been overlooked.

For Account Executive, Yalda Rafie, “The Family Stone” is not only one of her favorite Christmas movies, but also one of her all time faves. Say what you will about Sarah Jessica Parker’s very consistent throat-clearing throughout the movie, the movie is sad, heartwarming, and hilarious all at the same time. The movie captures the message that we can never take our loved ones for granted. Dermont Mulroney is the family’s perfect son who brings home a very annoying girlfriend (Jessica Parker) and asks his mom for the family stone to propose to her. The family at first finds her intolerable, but then quickly abandons their petty behavior when they learn their mother has cancer. The film ends on the note that love and patience conquer all.

Taylor and Santa


For Senior Account Executive, Adriana Lamirande, “The Holiday” captures the holiday spirit of renewal. Unlike many rom-coms, the personal transformation journeys of the main characters aren’t achieved by physical “makeovers.” Instead, the characters look inward to define what makes them happy when they are alone. This season is all about gathering and celebrating life and each other — whether we’re alone, with chosen or given family. “The Holiday” empowers us to take leaps of faith and let go to find ourselves again, with a side of spiked hot cocoa. Also, BONUS: Lindsay Lohan has a fun cameo.

The holidays, of course, are also a time of great foolishness, familial bickering, and consumerism. No story captures these traits of the season as well as “A Christmas Story.” Ashley Kelsey watches this movie with her family each holiday season and they laugh over the father’s insistence that the package he receives marked “fragile” is pronounced — in faux Italian — “fra-GIL-ay.” And they enjoy the desperate mission of the young protagonist to get an air rifle for Christmas, which ends with his realization, upon receiving just what he asked for, that he might accidentally shoot his eye out. This movie pokes fun at our materialistic desires in this season of gift-giving, reminding us that pursuit of our frivolous wishes could lead to our ruin.

Ashley prepping brownies


Like my father and me, Ashley and her brothers make a tradition of watching “A Christmas Story” each year. But in their case, they gather to watch it on a television station’s back-to-back loop until they fall asleep. And maybe that is the way to do it. Our appreciation of these holiday stories is about repetition. By rewatching or rereading these works, we remind ourselves of the values they present. And so we return to them again and again, until it is January and — like our holiday stories — the holidays themselves are just a pleasant memory.

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