It's Bogus!

Justice For All The Christmas Movie Moms

Why do they all get such a raw deal?

Originally Published: 
Ariela Basson/Scary Mommy; Getty Images, Shutterstock
Hilarity Of The Holidays

Now that I’m a mom and revisiting all the classic holiday movies I watched as a kid — iconic films like Home Alone, A Christmas Story, and It’s A Wonderful Life — I see these stories and characters from a totally different perspective. And this year, after my annual Christmas movie marathon viewing session, I was left with one major question: Why does every single Christmas movie mom get the short end of the stick?

Seriously, they all get such a bad, unfortunate storyline, or they’re written to be perceived in the worst possible light. Meanwhile, the dads are — you guessed it! — goofy, funny, and jolly comic relief. The moms are buzzkills and scolds or just plain mistreated by their husbands and families. And I hate it!

First, let me preface by saying that I fully realize that these are classic, wonderful, untouchable holiday films. I love all of them to the very depths of my soul. I will still watch them with holiday glee each and every year and force my kids to sit down and watch them too. That being said, I still feel that Christmas movie moms deserve some long overdue justice.

Kate McCallister, from Home Alone

First up: Home Alone mom Kate McCallister, played by the great Catherine O’Hara. She suffers from severe mom guilt when she (along with literally 10 other family members) forgets her 8-year-old son, Kevin, before heading off on a Christmas vacation to Paris. I’ve seen this character (often referred to only as “Kevin’s Mom”) on several “Worst Movie Moms” lists, which I think is absolutely egregious.

For starters, we need to bring this same energy onto Kevin’s dad, because Peter McCallister also left his kid home and then made a couple half-assed phone calls from Paris, France, in an attempt to reach Kevin. Why are you calling the Paris police to help find Kevin, Peter? Think this through, dude!

Meanwhile, Kevin’s mom was sleeping at the airport, offering her personal belongings for plane tickets, and literally saying she would “sell [her] soul to the Devil himself” to get home to her child. She ends up in the back of a freezing rental truck with the Kenosha Kickers (honestly, not that bad of a deal) and barely makes it home before the rest of her family who surely flew back first class. Her husband even has the audacity to give her grief about opting out of the flight they all got on!

Ralphie’s mom, from A Christmas Story

Another holiday matriarch who gets a bad wrap around the Christmas season is Ralphie’s mom in A Christmas Story. This gentle but stern woman, credited as “Mother” in the holiday film that TBS plays on a loop for 24 hours on Christmas Eve, is the O.G. boy mom. She loves her family deeply but often totally gets the shaft. Rewatching this film as a wife and mom now is a wild ride. I sit there watching Mother, frazzled, serving food to her family in what’s basically rags, while The Old Man (Darren McGavin) reads the paper or gets angry about their touchy furnace.

She cooks, cleans, and wrestles the kids into their over-the-top winter gear while the rest of the family whines and complains about pretty much everything. At one point, Ralphie narrates that Mother “hasn’t had a hot meal for herself in 15 years.” Someone get this woman a spa day!

Liz Langston, from Jingle All The Way

Now, some say Jingle All The Way this is one of the worst Christmas movies ever made, but there is definitely a lesson to be learned from watching it: Never, ever let your workaholic, basically absent husband be in charge of getting the one damn toy your kid wants for Christmas. While the Jingle All The Way mom made this fatal mistake, she still has to deal with so much B.S.

Liz Langston, played by Rita Wilson, is married to Howard, played by none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger. Liz asked Howard “weeks ago” to pick up a Turbo Man action figure for their son, Jamie, and — of course — he forgot. So on Christmas Eve, Howard embarks on a Christmas Eve quest to redeem himself as a husband, father, and person by securing the in-demand doll at the last minute. Meanwhile, Liz bakes cookies and does all the holiday fun with her son solo while her creepy neighbor hits on her constantly. While I need to give Liz some side-eye for following up about the toy on December 23, it’s not her fault her husband is kind of the worst.

Laura, from The Santa Clause

Speaking of horrible husbands, let’s talk about the mom in Disney’s 1994 holiday classic, The Santa Clause, starring Tim Allen.

As a kid, I thought Laura and her new husband, Neil, were complete and total buzzkill parents who just refused to embrace the magic of the holidays. Throughout the movie, she is villainized for being deeply concerned that her ex-husband, Scott, is maybe having some sort of psychotic break because he literally thinks he’s Santa Claus. Of course she’s freaking out!

She’s concerned for her kid, who is totally obsessed with his Santa Claus dad and the North Pole, and she works to try and get to the root of all this madness because she has common sense. The film chalks her disbelief of Christmas magic up to the fact that she didn’t get a Mystery Date game when she was a girl, but I think we all know that Laura Calvin Miller was just ahead of her time, trying to get her ex-husband into therapy.

Karen, from Love Actually

Which brings us to the mom who deserves the most justice of any mom in the history of classic holiday films: the mom from Love Actually.

Yeah, you know exactly which mom I’m talking about.

Karen, played by world treasure Emma Thompson, steals the entire film with her heart-wrenching realization that her husband may be having an affair. Not only that, she finds out in what’s got to be one of the worst ways possible: She discovers a gold, heart-shaped necklace gift-wrapped in her husband’s coat pocket and assumes it’s for her, that her husband (who never does much for her in the gift department, in one of the late Alan Rickman’s more caddish roles) has bought it for her.

That’s until gifts are exchanged and she is devastated when she opens her gift from her husband and finds Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now album.

Karen realizes that the necklace will be going to someone else in her husband’s life: his mistress.

The title track from the album plays while Thompson tries her hardest to console herself in her bedroom as she slowly breaks down into tears. The camera cuts to black and white photos of her kids and husband, showing happier times in the family that she clearly carries on her back.

After a good cry, Karen pulls herself together, fixes up the bedsheet (what else can she do?!), and snaps back into mom-mode. In one single, wordless scene, she shows the selflessness and power of mothers, pushing aside her own problems to put on a happy face for their children, even in the most devastating of circumstances.

Though it seems like “classic” Christmas movies are a way of the past (has there even been on since Elf?), let’s take this holiday season to rediscover and appreciate Christmas movie moms and all they do to actually keep the holiday magic alive.

Katie Garrity is a Scary Mommy staff writer covering news stories pertaining to parenting, celebrity, and viral internet moments. In her free time, she’s hanging with her 4-year-old daughter and husband, planning their next family trip, and watching restocking videos on TikTok. Katie is a total Swiftie. Her favorite Taylor Swift album is Evermore, but she’s currently in her Reputation era.

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