Christmas is just around the corner, which means the tube is full of holiday movies. Since Christmas movies are all based on warm fuzzy family-friendly stories - maybe not Die Hard - they often take place in a big, warm family home. So much work has gone into the productions to make the homes memorable and familiar that we all know the front window of Ralphie's family house in A Christmas Story or the nest of lights in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation or the poor statue in Home Alone that falls victim (literally) to every car that pulls up in front of the McAllister house. So, I did some research into my favourite Christmas movie homes to get an update on where they are and how they're doing after all these years. I found that many of them are real and inhabited, and one of them is even located in Oakville. When you're finished reading, please take a moment and tell me in the comments which Christmas movie home is your favourite.
A Christmas Story
Ralphie has to convince his parents, teachers, and Santa that a Red Ryder B.B. gun really is the perfect gift for the 1940s.
The film was made in 1983 in Cleveland, Ohio - although many scenes were shot in various Ontario locations - and now the A Christmas Story House is open year round to the public. Directly across the street from the house is the official A Christmas Story House Museum, which features original props, costumes and memorabilia from the film, as well as hundreds of rare behind-the-scenes photos. Among the props and costumes are the toys from the Higbee’s window, Randy’s snowsuit, the chalkboard from Miss Shields’ classroom and the family car.
The iconic suburban Chicago home that played a pivotal role in the 1990 John Hughes blockbuster Home Alone acts as the battleground where Kevin McAllister (played, of course, by Macaulay Culkin) took on two burglars.
The 4,250-square-foot, three-story Winnetka, Ill., home is one of my favourites among those that apprear in Christmas movies. The sprawling suburban home, dripping with Christmas lights, to me, is the epitome of Americana. The red-brick, Georgian-style home at 671 Lincoln was built in the 1920s and features "four en suite bedrooms, including the 'attic bedroom – a dormered and finished retreat with numerous nooks and crannies – and two grand suites," according to Coldwell Banker. It also includes a four-room master suite, which spans the entire west wing of the home.
After nearly a year on the market, the Home Alone house sold this year for $1.58 million.
The Santa Clause
Some of you Oakville dwellers may already know that the Santa Clause was shot on location at a home in Oakville and many locals played extras throughout. The movie tells the story of a man (Tim Allen) who inadvertantly kills Santa on Christmas Eve and finds himself magically recruited to take his place. In the film, Oakville plays the role of an Illinois town. The main drag on is played by Oakville’s main drag, Lakeshore Road, around Thomas Street, where shops like Swiss Interiors make a cameo as the camera pans by.
One of the main settings is the house where Tim Allen’s character’s wife lives is right at 19 Carey Drive. A recent paint job has the house looking a little different these days, but it's certainly still recognizable.
National Lampoons Christmas Vacation
In National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) gets his wish for a big family Christmas. When his wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) worries that it might not be quite as perfect as he imagines, he says, “Christmas is about resolving differences and seeing through the petty problems of family life.” He spends the rest of the movie trying to do just that!
Christmas Vacation was based on a short story written by John Hughes called “Christmas ’59.” It was the second Vacation story to be published in National Lampoon’s Magazine. The movie premiered in 1989, and it shows in all of the wallpaper and fabric choices in the house: green carpet, plaid curtains in the kitchen as well as a plaid couch and chair in the den, and wallpaper, lots and lots of it.
Unfortunately, you can't go visit the Griswold house because the whole thing, interior and exterior, are a set located on the Warner Brothers lot in Burbank, California. The overall structure of the house is basically the same but it's undergone so many facelifts for other movies that you'd be forgiven for not recognizing it. Luckily, you can still take a virtual tour of the Griswold home here.
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