What is it About Those Holiday Specials?
December 17, 2012
When I was a kid, a friend of mine called me up one day and asked if I wanted to go see a movie that I had never heard of. This was one of the first times I ever went to see a film without knowing what it was about first. The movie turned out to be fantastic, but in spite of that, it vanished from theaters very quickly. I never could have guessed that years later it would become an annual television tradition. The movie was called A Christmas Story.
It’s A Wonderful Life, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and we can’t forget Frosty the Snowman. These movies and specials have become as much a part of our holiday celebrations as mistletoe and eggnog. It just does not seem like Christmas without them. The question is why? Why do I feel like I must see Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer every year, even though I have already seen it dozens of times?
We also cannot forget the numerous interpretations of the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol. This story has been done in so many ways by so many different people that they are almost too numerous to count. Whether it is a strictly faithful adaptation, a musical, or an animated version starring Mickey Mouse, this too is a story that it seems must be told every time December 25th comes around. My personal favorite is It’s A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, which is wonderfully narrated by Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat.
There is another movie that I also seek out this time year, and it is one many people have probably never heard of. It’s called The Night They Saved Christmas, and it is about oil drilling in Alaska threatening Santa and the residents of North Pole City. My favorite line of all time in a Christmas film is "You’re going to blow up Santa Claus!" I remember seeing this on television when I was young and have never forgotten it. I’m sure there are a lot of us that have one of these one-off Christmas offerings that just entered our consciousness and didn’t let go.
In the end, I think the reason these specials mean so much is because they remind us of a certain special time in our lives. Most of us probably first saw these when we were children, when Santa was still real and we still believed that reindeer could fly. They take us back to the time when we couldn’t get to sleep on Christmas Eve because we wanted to hear the reindeer on the roof. Back when all we were thinking about was the presents waiting for us under the tree. No worrying about paying for those presents or how to handle the stress of making that fabulous Christmas dinner come off without a hitch.
Holiday specials help create the atmosphere that we associate with the season. I think that is why it doesn’t feel right to view them at any other time of year. You just can’t watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas in the middle of April. What about you? Is there some show or movie that you feel like you must see every year or it just isn’t Christmas? And don’t forget that MCPL has many of those ubiquitous specials on DVD and video.