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10 Christmas movies to get you into the holiday spirit, early

Hermey the Elf comforts Rudolph in the animated Christmas classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Photo: CBS

There’s a Christmassy feeling, and sometimes it arrives, like a fairy on your shoulder, and flies away a moment later. In some years, we can go the whole season without it ever showing at all. It’s not a feeling that comes when we’re busy. We have to stop long enough to cultivate it.

This is where Christmas movies can be useful. They can get us into the proper frame of mind.

I imagine Christmas movie associations differ according to when you were a child. When I was a kid, the world was already in color. Photography was in color, TV was in color, but Christmas existed mostly in the black-and-white world of the generation before. It consisted of Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas” and Bob Hope singing “Silver Bells.” It was the experience of watching “Miracle on 34th Street” (1947) and finding irrefutable evidence of Santa Claus’ existence.

The World War II years and their aftermath were an era in which Americans valued the collective and believed in a shared set of values. The idea was that everyone was part of something big, and that, by extension, every person was important. This fostered a philosophical climate in which the goodwill animating Christmas movies made the most sense. Yet there are some very nice newer Christmas movies, too.

The following are Christmas movies to get you into the holiday frame of mind — the genuinely great, the best of the modern and the old reliable classics. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but these work for me.

The genuinely great

Margaret Sullavan and James Stewart in “The Shop Around the Corner.”

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