Both of my parents were born on Christmas Day. Throw in five siblings, a traditional Catholic upbringing, and a small Illinois town where my grandparents lived one street away, and Christmas was bound to be a huge deal.

I remember watching White Christmas and Going My Way on our old Philco as we decorated the tree. My dad saw the 1944 premiere of Going My Way while stationed in Europe during World War II. He said many of those tough G.I.’s were sobbing by the time the credits rolled after the “Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral” scene. And rough Nick’s Bar in It’s a Wonderful Life always reminded me a little bit of home.