Nine holiday specials that make it *really* seem like Christmas

There are a lot of Christmas specials out there.There are cute ones, and nostalgic ones, and funny ones, and (if you spend any time on the Hallmark Channel, romantic ones). It would take forever to even LIST all the specials out there, let alone find clips of all of them… but here are a few of my favorites. When these start making it into the rotation, I know Christmas is really coming, after all…

Scrooge's third visitor, from Charles Dickens:...
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Number 9: A Christmas Carol
From animated versions (such as Mr. Magoo as Scrooge — who else remembers the song, “I’m all alone in the world?” sung by the “past” Scrooge as a boy?), to the Muppet version, to Bill Murray in Scrooged … it’s hard to pick just one version. Whether somber or silly, the sheer versatility of Dickens’ story puts it on the list.

Number 8: It’s a Wonderful Life
It’s a classic for a reason. Even if you find it too sweet for your taste in places, you STILL have to love it.

Number 7: Elf
A relatively new addition to the list, this one tickles me for two main reasons. The most important one is simple: my nieces love it, and it’s hard not to be amused when they are so amused. The second one is that I just love Buddy’s recap of his trip from the North Pole to NYC: “I passed through the seven layers of the candy cane forest, through the sea of twirly, swirly gumdrops, and then I walked through the Lincoln Tunnel.” I couldn’t find a clip of that, so we’ll just have to enjoy this one for now:

Number 6: A Christmas Story
Yes, they overplay it so much that I can hardly stand it… and yet, for one watching a year, it’s very satisfying. Besides, who needs to actually watch it anymore to get the enjoyment factor – when there’s so many lines to quote back and forth to each other. “You’ll shoot your eye out!” “Daddy’s going to kill Ralphie!” “It’s a major award!” And of course, that Italian word…

Number 5: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
So much of this thing is just so kitchy, but they pull it out of mothballs ever year and all its faults don’t change the nostalgic value. Plus, this song is just so catchy!

Number 4: Nester the Long-Eared Donkey (video clip is part 3 of 3)
The story of a little donkey that no one thinks is worth anything… except, apparently, his mother, and God.  Nester’s story starts out just awful in just about every way, and Nester’s mother’s sacrifice makes me weepy, and the explanation of what cherubs are is, well, just wrong. But still, God uses Nester’s different-ness to be a blessing. And the hurtfulness and the wrongness of bullying is underscored. Plus, they do manage to work the birth of the savior in there. And on that count, it’s hard for me to hold too much against it.

Number 3: The Little Drummer Boy
The hard-hearted, life-worn, oft-abused little boy comes in desperation to the newborn King of Kings, his only hope. Badly delivered, overacted lines – and apparently poetic license applied to Biblical stories, if these choices are any indication – don’t change the fact that I tear up watching this part. “I have no gift to bring…” except what gifts He has first given me.

Number 2: How the Grinch Stole Christmas (video is the 1st half of the special)
Don’t waste my time with the remake; I’ll have none of it!  I have a hard time choosing just one scene from this to name as my “favorite moment.” The Who’s Christmas song (Welcome Christmas) makes me so happy inside. I love that this is so embedded in my memory that I can almost recite along with it. And I love that the moment when the Grinch figures it all out… first realizing that maybe, perhaps, Christmas is more than the things we buy and the celebrations we hold… his heart begins to grow… “then the true meaning of Christmas came through, and the Grinch found the strength of ten Grinches… plus two” … and with the influx of Truth there’s a change of heart, and an indwelling of power. Welcome, Christmas, while we stand | Heart to heart,… and hand in hand.

Number 1: Linus explains the true meaning of Christmas (from: A Charlie Brown Christmas)
Apparently Peanuts creator Charles Schulz had to fight to keep this scene in the special. I’m so glad he did. It’s probably my favorite moment of any of them, and is the only reason this special beats out the Grinch for Number 1.

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