I’m amazed at all of the holiday specials that are playing and replaying this time of year.
Growing up during the 1970s with only three TV networks, holiday specials were truly “special.”
My fondest memories of those days were the “Animagic” Christmas specials produced by Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass.
You know the stop-motion classics about Rudolph, Heat Miser, the Winter Warlock…etc.
Now, ABC Family Channel’s 25 Days of Christmas is running those specials wall-to-wall, decked halls and all until the end of the month.
That prompted this top-10 list of the greatest Christmas Holiday Specials ever:
10. Frosty the Snowman: I was never a huge fan of this :30 minute cartoon but for some reason at the age of eight, I thought Jimmy Durante as the narrator was inspired casting!
9. How the Grinch Stole Christmas: to be clear, I am not referring to the full-length Jim Carrey movie from 2000 which was not good in my opinion, I’m championing the original :30 minute cartoon version from 1966 that featured Boris Karloff as the creepy narrative, which was inspired – also what kid didn’t love a great Chuck Jones cartoon?!?
8. Elf: this full-length movie should probably be higher in the rankings because Will Ferrell was soooo incredibly funny. I’ve literally incorporated “ginormous” as part of my everyday speech because of this movie.
7. A Charlie Brown Christmas: great characters + clean fun + a great message = a timeless classic!
6. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer: This is the first Rankin/Bass production on this list and it’s simply outstanding. The idea of being a “misfit” really struck me as a kid growing up because my family moved around so much – it was always hard to fit in, this was a great story that I can still relate to today.
5. Santa Claus is Coming to Town: Another Rankin/Bass “masterpiece,” this one explained the Chris Krinkle backstory with the vocal talents of Mickey Rooney as Santa and Fred Astaire as the postman/narrator. Even today, I could watch this one over and over again.
4. Year Without a Santa Claus: This is my FAVORITE Rankin/Bass special – hands down, and it’s because of two words…Snow Miser! His Broadway-style floor show and rapier exchanges with his simmering step-brother Heat Miser are pure genius. Here’s a taste of the “Big Ham”……
How can you not LOVE that!!
3. A Christmas Story: This is such a charming and funny slice of pure Americana nostalgia, it’s difficult for me to shut it off once TBS begins its annual 24-hour marathon of this movie on Christmas Eve! I think most people can relate to some aspect of “kid-dom” that’s featured in this movie – and the late Darren McGavin stole every scene as Ralphie’s dad! Additionally, I LOVE the fact that a fan of the movie bought the house the movie was filmed in and turned it into a museum.
2. The Little Drummer Boy: I love this Rankin/Bass special because it is so subversive and counterculture to our current post-modern sensibilities. I guarantee that if some writer wanted to create this exact story today – it would not get the greenlight because of its exclusionary, divisive and inflammatory subject matter. If I’m not mistaken, I think it even mentions the “J-susWord” in relation to X-mas – shocking!
1. It’s a Wonderful Life: Where to begin with this astoundingly profound work…this movie has richly complex characters, engaging situations, multi-level subplots, laugh-out-loud humor, all wrapped around a message that will linger with you about the value of an individual life when it’s poured out for others. If you’ve never seen it – don’t wait another day.
Question: What’s your favorite holiday special and why?
[EdiTOR's Note: This is an updated re-post of a similar article I ran last year.]