Everyone has their holiday traditions and everyone has opinions on things that can make or break their holiday season.
Being the tv and film geek that I am, I have several holiday specials that, if missed, would make my Christmas feel rather incomplete.
Herewith, a list (not in any order other than the order in which they occurred to me):
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
The 1964 classic stop-motion special. Unparalelled cuteness. Great songs. Fun additional characters like the Misfit Toys, Yukon Cornelius, Hermey the Elf who wants to be a dentist and the Bumble Snowmonster. Plus, Rudolph overcomes his misfit status and saves Christmas. What could be better?
A Charlie Brown Christmas
This special first aired in 1965 and has become a holiday staple. Featuring the beloved Peanuts characters created by Charles Schultz. Really manages to get at what Christmas is all about in the face of the over-commercialization of the holiday. Plus it has real children voicing the Peanuts gang (as opposed to grown up voiceover actors pretending to be children) and the best Christmas jazz soundtrack ever thanks to Vince Guaraldi.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas!
The 1966 television special based directed by Chuck Jones, narrated by Boris Karloff, based on the book of the same title by Dr. Seuss. Moreover it has Thurl Ravenscroft and another brilliant message about the holidays. "Christmas there will always be, just as long as we have we ... "
Accept no bad Jim Carrey film adaptation substitutes!
Christmas Eve On Sesame Street
First broadcast on PBS in 1978, this sweet little special is well worth checking out. The song "Keep Christmas With You All Through The Year" has a tendency to make me cry (in a good way).
"Keep Christmas with you
All through the year,
When Christmas is over,
Save some Christmas cheer.
These precious moments,
Hold them very dear
And keep Christmas with you
All through the year. "
And here is another Jim Henson special which I don't think quite as many people are familiar with:
Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas
Based upon a charming 1971 children's book by Russell and Lillian Hoban (which I also love), this is a 1977 adaptation by Jim Henson and company. It is a kinder, gentler version of O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi".
The story centers on Emmet Otter and his widowed Ma, Alice Otter. They manage to scrape by doing laundry and odd jobs for others in Frogtown Hollow. As Christmas approaches, they hear of a talent contest taking place in a nearby village and Ma and Emmet each decide to enter in order to get Christmas presents for each other. Ma wants to buy a nice guitar for Emmet, and Emmet wants to get a piano for Ma. However, they must sacrifice each other's livelihood for the talent contest -- Ma hocks Emmet's tools for dress fabric, while Emmet turns Ma's washtub into a washtub bass for a jug band. All turns out well in the end though.
This special features a beautiful variety of puppet work (Henson and company were trying out techniques for The Muppet Movie) and wonderful songs by Paul Williams. A secular special made with great care, love and respect for its audience. If you've not seen this, I highly recommend checking it out.
For more info check out the Muppet Wiki entry on the special: Muppet Wiki Emmet entry.
So those are my "can't miss" Christmas specials. What (if any) specials do you find it necessary to watch every year?