It’s the most wonderful time of the year…
Christmas lights, presents, shiny baubles, presents, cookies, more presents, Bing Crosby singing on the radio, did I mention presents… there are so many reasons to love the Christmas season. And since I’m a sucker for nostalgia, some of my favorite moments of the season involve sitting down with a cup of hot cocoa and watching some old Christmas specials on TV.
However, because I’m me, the Christmas specials that I prefer aren’t the ones that everybody’s familiar with. Oh, don’t get me wrong – I love Rudolph and Charlie Brown and Frosty and Grinches and angels getting their wings and miracles on New York streets just as much as the next girl. But my family’s been recording Christmas shows on VHS since the early 80s, and well, we’ve got some goodies. So let me give you a brief overview of what you could expect if you spent Christmas at my house. (YouTube links have been provided for you – it’s amazing what’s been uplinked these days! 😉 )
Muppet Family Christmas (1987)
Before there was the Muppet Christmas Carol, which is also a holiday must-watch, there was the time when the Muppet gang decided to surprise Fozzie’s aged mother at her farmhouse for Christmas, preventing her from going on her planned surfing vacation to Hawaii, I might add. Before you know it, the house is full to the brim with the Muppets, Sesame Street Muppets, and Fraggles! There’s even a home movie clip showing the Muppet Babies! But, of course, there’s always that little bit of drama: will Miss Piggy get to the farmhouse through the snowstorm in time for Christmas? Will Gonzo lose his chicken-girlfriend Camilla to the fast-talking Christmas turkey? Will Fozzie’s new comedy partner (a snowman) survive their indoor act? There’s even a cameo of the late, great Jim Henson himself.
Nutcracker Scooby (1984)
Scooby Doo and the gang (including Scrappy, but not Velma) are helping Tiny Tina and everyone else at the children’s home put on a Christmas pageant when the spooky Ghost of Christmas Never shows up. Is it the work of the dastardly businessman Winslow Nickleby, who is trying to close the home to buy it for himself? Or is it someone else who’s after the emerald that’s hidden somewhere in the pageant props?
Christmas at Eureeka’s Castle (1990)
Batly is trying to put on a pageant with (dragon) Magellan’s tail as the Christmas tree because Eureeka – a lady wizard in training – is having trouble magicking up a real tree. When things go wrong, Magellan takes his pet Cooie to the woods to find a tree himself. Meanwhile, Mr. Knack the janitor is running around in an Easter Bunny costume, moat monster twins Bogg & Quagmire are getting all tied up (literally) in their super-long Christmas lists, and Batly’s kicked everyone out of the show! Will Magellan ever find his way back to the castle? Will anyone even notice he’s gone? Will Batly’s duet with his pet spider Webster be the showstopper he needs?
Christmas Eve on Sesame Street (1978)
When Oscar the Grouch tells Big Bird that Santa’s too fat to get down people’s chimneys to deliver presents, Big Bird takes it upon himself to find out just how Santa does it. Kermit & Grover interview real-life kids to get their opinions, Snufflupagus tries to get all 4 of his legs into a mock chimney, and Bert & Ernie retell O. Henry’s story “The Gift of the Magi” (with some help from good ol’ Mr. Hooper!). Will Big Bird figure out the mystery in time? Will Cookie Monster be able to write to Santa without eating his pencil, typewriter, etc.? Will anybody get any presents at all? I have yet to see a Sesame Street Christmas special that comes close to the charm of this one.
Christmas Under the Umbrella Tree (1992)
Gloria the gopher, Iggy the iguana, and Jacob the blue jay get ready for Christmas with their (human) roommate Holly. Jacob makes food baskets for needy birds, Gloria decorates her burrow and Iggy builds a skating rink. Not much drama here, but nice family friendly fun and a few songs.
It Came Upon the Midnight Clear (1984)
Mickey Rooney stars as a retired Manhattan cop who has promised to take his Californian grandson to New York City for Christmas. But before they can leave, he suffers a heart attack, dies, and goes to Heaven. The angels agree to extend his life until midnight on Christmas Eve, but only if he’ll help them out – the angel they sent to New York to spread Christmas cheer has gone missing! Madness of course ensues – he wakes up, sneaks out from his daughter’s house to New York with his grandson in tow, and starts investigating. But will he find this angel – Wiley Boggs – in time? Will his daughter & her family keep him from completing his mission? Did the angels have another reason for sending him back?
The City that Forgot Christmas (1974)
A young boy’s grandfather tells him the story of a city that forgot about Christmas until a carpenter named Matthew comes to town. Soon he’s got most of the town involved in helping him carve & set up a life-size nativity in the town square, much to the chagrin of the Mayor and his cronies. But when the Mayor steals the nativity’s baby Jesus in order to stop Christmas from coming, and Matthew disappears, what will the town do?
The Night They Saved Christmas (1984)
Will a greedy oil company blow up Santa Claus? The company is exploring sites near the North Pole looking for oil, but one of the potential sites is too close to North Pole City. So Santa (Art Carney) brings the wife (Jaclyn Smith) & kids of one of the company employees to his workshop to explain the problem, and in the process shows them all his secrets. But will anyone believe them? Or will they think it was a giant ruse by a rival oil company?