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tree with lights
It's beginning to look a lot like...

                 
              ...by Jerome A. Holst

     

     Each year, the signs of Christmas slowly reveal themselves. There are, for instance, the retail stores who merchandise their Halloween candy and costume stock at the same time they are filling their aisles with the latest toys and decorations for the upcoming Xmas season. Or the first Christmas tree strapped to the roof a passing car that reminds us we have to get a tree in a couple of weeks; and finally, the industrious neighbors down the block who just can't wait to put up their Christmas lights [and forget to take them down until March]. 

     Yes, all these signs call for the anticipation and comfort that is Christmas. But, for me, Christmas isn't Christmas without the special stories that emanate from the TV screen from late November through December 25th. From the umpteenth broadcast of It's a Charlie Brown' Christmas and It's a Wonderful Life, viewers can once again celebrate the magic of the season as the TV tube's flickering lights remind us of another time when we were children, when the world seemed a much simpler place and there was never a doubt that we were loved and that Santa was on his way. 

     To prepare for this Christmas season, let's take a glimpse at some classic seasonal specials that will soon visit our living rooms this Yuletide. 

A Charlie Browns' Christmas (1965)

This delightful holiday highlights Charlie Brown's disgust with  all the commercialism during the Christmas season. To get his mind off his woes, Charlie's friend Lucy suggests that he become director of the school Christmas pageant but the endeavor proves to be frustrating. In the meantime, Charlie adopts a pathetic little fir Christmas tree ["It just needs a little love,'] and his pal, Linus helps everybody learn what the real meaning of Christmas is. 

[Sally's letter to Santa]

"Dear Santa Claus, How have you been? Did you have a nice summer? How is your wife? I have been extra good this year, so I have a long list of presents that I want. Please note the size and color of each item, and send as many as possible. If it seems too complicated, make it easy on yourself: just send money. How about tens and twenties?"

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer (1964)

Burl Ives lends his voice and countenance to Sam the snowman who tells us the story of a young red-nosed reindeer who get kicked out of all the reindeer games for being different.  Even Santa Claus shows his prejudice and shuns Rudolph. Saddened by his exclusion from the group, Rudolph and another alleged misfit Hermey the elf, an aspiring dentist, leave the North Pole in search of a new life. Along the way, they meet a boisterous prospector named Yukon Cornelius, they encounter the Abominable Snowman and an island filled with misfit toys. But, in the end, Rudolph grows up, Santa asks Rudolph and his red nose to act as a beacon to get through the storm of the century, Hermey becomes a dentist and Santa finds home for all the misfit toys. I love happy endings.

Head Elf:

Why weren't you at elf practice?

Hermey:

Just fixing these dolls' teeth.

Head Elf:

Just fixing...? Now listen, we have dolls that cry, talk, walk, blink and run a temperature. We don't need any chewing dolls.

Hermey:

 I just thought I'd find a way to fit in.

Head Elf:

You'll never fit in! Now you come to elf practice, learn how to wiggle your ears and chuckle warmly and go hee-hee and ho-ho and important stuff like that. A dentist. Good grief!


How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

Boris Karloff narrates the timeless tale of a bitter Grinch who tries to destroy Christmas. Dressing as Santa Claus, the Grinch steals all the toys, food and decoration in Whoville in hopes of ending Christmas for good. Instead, he discovers that Christmas is more that just toys. It is a celebration of love.  

Boris Karloff as Narrator

"All the Whos down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot, but the Grinch, who lived just north of Whoville, did not. The Grinch HATED Christmas -- the whole Christmas season. Oh, please don't ask why, no one quite knows the reason. It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight. Or maybe his head wasn't screwed on just right. But I think that the best reason of all may have been that his heart was two sizes too small."


Christmas Story (1983)

This slice of life Yule time movie follows the attempts of a youngster named Ralphie who dreams of the ultimate  present -- Red Ryder Carbine Action, 200 Shot, Range Model Air Rifle. Problem is, all the adults in his life are telling him that air rifles are dangerous and he will "shoot his eye out." Will he get his rifle? Let's hope so.

Ralphie: 

Oooh fuuudge!

Ralphie as Adult: 

Only I didn't say "Fudge." I said THE word, the big one, the queen-mother of dirty words, the "F-dash-dash-dash" word!

The Old Man: 

What did you say?

Ralphie: 

Uh, um...

The Old Man:

That's... what I thought you said. Get in the car. Go on!

Ralphie:

 It was all over -- I was dead. What would it be? The guillotine? Hanging? The chair? The rack? The Chinese water torture? Hmmph. Mere child's play compared to what surely awaited me.


It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

George Bailey has a wonderful life. He married to a great wife, has three kids and a town filled with people who love him. But now George is facing financial bankruptcy and turns to a scheme of killing himself and using the insurance money to solve his families problems. Luckily, in steps a guardian angel named Clarence who hears George's wish of "I wish I was never born" and fulfills it. Now stuck in a dark reality of "Potterville" Clarence shows George what his town of Bedford Falls would have looked like if it hadn't been for all his good deeds over the years. Will Clarence be able to convince George to return to his family and forget about suicide ? 

Clarence:

Your brother, Harry Bailey, broke through the ice and died at the age of nine.

George:

That's a lie! Harry Bailey went to war! He got the Congressional medal of honor, he saved the lives of every man on that transport!

Clarence:

Every man on that transport died! Harry wasn't there to save them because you weren't there to save Harry!


 Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Doris Walker is a Macy's executive responsible for coordinating the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. When the man hired to play Santa on the parade's float is found intoxicated, in walks a geriatric patient from a near by retirement home named Kris Kringle. Desperate for a sober Santa, Doris hires the charming bearded little man for the parade and them hires him as the Macy's store Santa Claus. When Kris's identity as the real Santa Claus is challenged, he goes to court to exonerate himself. Will the court rule in his favor and will the skeptical Doris and her little daughter start believing in the magic of Christmas? 

Charles Halloran advising the judge:

"All right, you go back and tell them that the New York State Supreme Court rules there's no Santa Claus. It's all over the papers. The kids read it and they don't hang up their stockings. Now what happens to all the toys that are supposed to be in those stockings? Nobody buys them. The toy manufacturers are going to like that; so they have to lay off a lot of their employees, union employees. Now you got the CIO and the AF of L against you and they're going to adore you for it and they're going to say it with votes. Oh, and the department stores are going to love you too and the Christmas card makers and the candy companies. Ho ho! Henry, you're going to be an awful popular fella. And what about the Salvation Army? Why, they got a Santa Claus on every corner, and they're taking a fortune. But you go ahead Henry, you do it your way. You go on back in there and tell them that you rule there is no Santy Claus. Go on! But if you do, remember this: you can count on getting just two votes, your own and that district attorney's out there."

Christmas Vacation (1989) 

It's Christmas time and the Griswold's are preparing for a family seasonal celebration. But suddenly Clark discovers he's not getting his much hoped for Christmas bonus and on top of that, he is inundated by a bunch of obnoxious relatives who dropped in for the holidays. Will the Griswold's survive the season?  

Chevy Chase as the irritated Clark W. Griswold

 " Where do you think you're going? Nobody's leaving. Nobody's walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no! We're all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here! We're gonna press on, and we're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye! And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he's gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse!"

 
Scrooge (a.k.a. Christmas Carol)
(1951)

Based on Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol," this perennial favorite tells the tale of a miserably, miserly old businessman named Scrooge who gets visited by the the ghost of his former partner Marley who arranges three more ghostly visits from The Ghosts of Christmas, Past, Past and Future. Will Scrooge change his ways and find redemption?

Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge

"Every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart." 


Look for these equally entertaining specials on TV this season:

Emmett Otter’s Jug Band Christmas (1977)

Frosty the Snowman (1969)

Jack Frost (1979)

Little Drummer Boy (1968)

Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)

Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol (1962)

A Muppet Family Christmas (1987)

Rudolph's Shiny New Year (1975)

Santa Claus is Comin' to Town (1970)

Twas the Night Before Christmas (1974)

Year Without a Santa Claus (1974)



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