Christmas is a very special time of year. It’s about togetherness and doing good for others. As children, we mostly saw Christmas as a time for Santa Claus, who gives gifts to all of the good children of the world. That’s nice too, but when I was a kid I saw Christmas for something else also. Being off school. Of course there’s always still a chance of having homework assignments over the break because it’s technically not the end of the semester yet. Don’t you just hate that?
Anyway, here is my top 25 list of Christmas specials that help me get more into the holiday spirit.
#25) Shrek the Halls: This takes place shortly after where Shrek the Third left off. Shrek (voice of Mike Myers) and his family are at the swamp house near Christmas time. As Donkey (voice of Eddie Murphy) and friends arrive with Christmas cheer, Shrek feels out of place because he never celebrated Christmas before. Embarrassed to tell anyone, Shrek goes into town and gets a book titled “Christmas for Village Idiots”. He follows it exactly, but things go out of control when the others don’t celebrate by the book. Shrek soon confesses to the others about how he doesn’t know about Christmas, but everything works out. This special has a great message about Christmas traditions. It doesn’t matter how you celebrate. Christmas is about togetherness and good will while having a good time. That’s what’s truly important.
#24) Little Drummer Boy: Based on the Christmas carol, a young boy named Aaron travels the countryside in Jerusalem with his toy drum. His only friends are BaaBaa the lamb, Samson the donkey, and Joshua the camel. Long ago, Aaron’s parents were killed by bandits and that caused him to hate all humans. He thinks they’re all bandits. Talk about stereotyping a species. That all soon changes when Aaron arrives in Bethlehem, meets the newborn king, and plays his drum for him. In Little Drummer Boy: Book 2 the story continues thereafter as Aaron goes with one of the three kings to fulfill a prophecy, which involves the newborn king and silver bells. Due to unfair taxes, the Roman Emperor takes the bells and it’s up to Aaron to help get them back. Aaron loses his drum to those greedy tax collectors, which leaves him heartbroken. Then realizes that his accomplishment was worth it.
#23) Sonic Christmas Blast: It’s Christmas time in the world of Mobious and Santa is retiring. Taking his place is Robotnik Claus. Sounds kind of suspicious, don’t you think? Especially since Robotnik Claus wants everyone to give him presents. Meanwhile, Sonic and Tails go Christmas shopping, but all of the stores are empty. It also turns out that Robotnik has captured Santa. It’s a race against time as Sonic and Tails try to defeat Robotnik and save Christmas. No problem for Sonic the Hedgehog as he goes through all sorts of adventurous perils.
#22) The Leprechaun’s Christmas Gold: Here’s an interesting special I had discovered recently. On an island inhabited by leprechauns, a cabin boy named Dinty goes ashore and digs up a Christmas tree. Only to find out that a wicked banshee named Mag the Hag was kept underneath it. Now the banshee is on the loose bringing bad luck with her tears. Banshees can take any form in order to persuade the leprechauns to give them their gold. There is one flaw in that tactic. Banshees can’t hide their tears. That’s right. Their eyes are always leaking. Personally, I prefer the version of banshees from that episode of Charmed better. It’s much more edgy. The story line didn’t seem like much, but there’s something about Irish music that just makes you feel good inside.
#21) Fat Albert’s Christmas Special: This is unlike any other special I’ve seen before. As Fat Albert and the gang prepare for a Christmas pageant, Tyrone, a junkyard owner, threatens them to move out of their clubhouse. They also find a homeless family and try to help them out. The father was laid off and his wife is about to have a baby. Fat Albert explains the situation to Tyrone, but he refuses to listen. He’s like a Scrooge. “No class.” Mudfoot talks some sense into Tyrone. Soon, good deeds conquer all. Doesn’t that make you feel good inside?
#20) ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas: Based the classic Christmas story, a human family known as the Trundles and a mouse family are worried that Santa will never return to their home town Junctionville again after everyone’s letters to Santa return to their senders. As it turns out, Albert, an intelligent mouse, wrote a letter to Santa mentioning what a phony he is. His father sets him straight when Joshua Trundle (voice of Joel Grey) , a clock maker, makes a huge clock to make Santa happy again. Fascinated by the clock, Albert accidentally wrecks it. It then becomes a race against time to fix it up again before midnight. It’s a good story about miracles and believing in what you can’t see or touch. Like Santa Claus and his baby reindeer. Baby reindeer?
#19) Charlie Brown Christmas: The Peanuts characters I remember very well. I found most of their specials depressing, but this one is funny and heartwarming. Lucy gets Charlie Brown to direct the Christmas play, but no one takes him seriously. They all just dance repetitively to Peanuts music. Who really dances with their shoulders up or sleepwalks in place? Soon Charlie Brown decides to get a Christmas tree. Of all the trees to choose from, he had to pick the smallest wooden tree. No one else likes it at first, but thanks to Linus, it becomes a great tree. Yet it still makes me wonder how the play turns out.
#18) How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966 version): This was one of the greatest Christmas specials of all time. Considering that it’s on cable every year along with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Also a classic. It starts with the Grinch hating Christmas and the Whos. I’ll tell ya. That Grinch has some nasty teeth when we see them up close. And that big sinister smile. Don’t get me started. As the Grinch describes what he hates about the Whos, it seems like musical instruments are the most popular types of presents. Most of them look complicated to play, but those Whos make it all look so easy. Even the little guy playing the drum on a highchair. The Grinch disguises himself as Santa Claus and his dog Max as a reindeer. That harness does look a little tight, don’t you think? The Grinch arrives in Whoville and steals everything in order to keep Christmas from coming. Things like presents, decorations, and the feast. Even ice cubes, camera film, and flower pedals. Talk about not taking any chances. Sheesh. And here’s something a little ironic. The moral of this story is that commercialism isn’t what Christmas is all about. Yet the Grinch is a highly merchandised character during the holidays. Ain’t that something?
#17) Pee-Wee’s Christmas: This one is a favorite because it sure give me a funny perspective on fruitcake. Pee-Wee (Paul Reubens) has a long list for Santa Claus. Yet he keeps getting fruitcakes from his friends for Christmas. Yecch! At least he finds a great use for them. They make great bricks to build a new room for the playhouse. There were also cameos from various celebrities. One of my most favorites was when Charo sings “Feliz Navidad” while Pee-Wee tries to break a piñata. Another favorite was when Dinah Shore sings “12 Days of Christmas” over the picture phone, which goes to 500. No wonder Pee-Wee had to sneak out.
#16) Smurfs Christmas Special: Let’s face it. The Smurfs have always been a terrific group. In this story a villainous stranger seizes two children who are lost in the forest. He gets Gargamel to find them in exchange for a powerful spell to destroy the Smurfs. Luckily the Smurfs find the children, who think Papa Smurf is Santa Claus. He does kind of look like Santa if you think about it. There’s also a memorable song, “Goodness makes the Badness Go Away”. It comes in real handy when the stranger captures the children and Gargamel. It’s hilarious when Gargamel tries to sing it too. “Goodness… Yecch!”
#15) Frosty the Snowman: Who could forget the original special that helped make Frosty the popular icon that he is. It starts on Christmas Eve where a group of children watch Professor Hinkle, a crummy magician, perform his magic at their school. Seriously, what kind of school has class time on Christmas Eve? The children build a snowman, which comes to life after Hinkle’s rabbit Hocus brings his hat and puts it on him. Frosty becomes a playful snowman, but the fun gets cut short when the temperature goes up. Since the only place Frosty would never melt is the North Pole, it becomes a quest to get him there. Train tickets are too expensive and Hinkle wants his hat back. He’ll stop at nothing to get it. Thanks to Santa Claus Frosty’s problems are solved. No, not with presents. Frosty becomes part of the Christmas community at the North Pole. Frosty has other adventures too. In Frosty’s Winter Wonderland, Frosty gets married to a snow woman named Crystal and becomes friends with Jack Frost. And Frosty Returns, which is more of a winter special, is very relatable. The kids love the snow, but the adults hate it. Nobody likes to spend their snow days shoveling driveways or driving in slush. I know I don’t. It’s also funny. The teacher, Miss Carbuncle, gripes while plowing her sidewalk. “Before you know it this darn snow turns into slush. And when there’s slush, there’s ice. And when there’s ice, there’s broken hips. And when there’s broken hips, there’s substitute teachers. …It’s no winter wonderland when you’re skidding into a telephone pole.” That cracks me up.
#14) Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (1964): Now this is a Christmas special I remember from when I was a kid. Rudolph is a reindeer who was born different. Even his father Donner is ashamed. Rudolph was declared a misfit because of his nose. Luckily Rudolph finds a friend, Hermie, an elf that wants to be a dentist instead of a toy maker. They both run away and find adventure at the Island of Misfit Toys. I still remember the main ones like Charlie in the box, Spotted Elephant, Cowboy riding an ostrich, and so on. When the ornaments from this special started to come out each year, I’d recognize them easily. Even King Moonrazor. What was that pretty doll’s name? Another character that’s memorable to me is Ucon Cornelios. He’s a prospector with a sense of humor. He likes to throw his pickaxe in the air. Then picks it up, sniffs it, and licks it. That’s not sanitary, but I always found it amusing. Yet I couldn’t understand why he does that at all.
Then of course there’s the abominable snow monster. He’s one scary dude, but Ucon and the misfits were able to stand up to that brute. It’s a great story about accepting misfits for who they are. And let’s not forget that Burl Ives sings in this special. His music is on the P.A. systems at the different stores during Christmas every year. It gets a little annoying after awhile. And like Frosty, Rudolph has other adventures as well because he’s like the Hercules of reindeer. In Rudolph’s Shiny New Year, he searches for the Baby New Year who ran away because of his big ears that make everyone laugh at him. His latest adventure was Rudolph and the Island of Misfit Toys. Although everyone loves Rudolph for his nose now, he still doesn’t feel accepted as anything more than a novelty act. At least Hermie the elf dentist continues to see him as his true pal. Rudolph even considers a nose job, but he realizes that he should keep it for that’s what makes him special.
#13) Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer: Dr. Elmo bases this special on the hit song that was on The Dr. Demento Show. A young boy named Jake loved his Grandma, who runs a general store. The very pretty cousin Mel only cares about money and she wants Grandma to sell the store. Grandma refuses. Later that night, Grandma gets run over by Santa’s reindeer and she disappears. Jake is the only one who believes what really happened. Mel soon tricks Grandpa into selling the store and giving her power of attorney. Jake feels that only he can find Grandma and stop the sale from happening. After finding her, Mel and her attorney I.M. Slime make sure that Grandma stays missing. This special is about as funny as the song and a nice story too.
Neat, huh? The list got so big, I’m gonna have to end this one here for now. Not to worry. Check my blog real soon for Part 2, where I talk about the top 12.