I really miss the innocent, timeless classics associated with Christmas. We use to watch these specials every year on TV, when I was a kid and even with my own children. We would all sit in front of the television as a family, almost like a tradition. These are the shows, and the stories, that made Christmas such a magical time.
Rankin/Bass was, and always will be, the best ones made. They had clever characters, great songs, and memorable stories that drew you in. From legends like Santa, Frosty, and Rudolph to religious stories like the Little Drummer Boy and Nestor the Long-Eared Donkey, these specials brightened the eyes of kids everywhere.
You can’t help but dance when you hear the Heat Miser/Snow Miser songs from “Year Without a Santa Claus” or find yourself in the Christmas Spirit when you hear Burl Ives sing “Holly Jolly Christmas” from “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.” My favorite song, and to me the ultimate Christ song, is “I Believe in Santa Claus” from “Year Without a Santa Claus”… If you haven’t seen the special or heard the song, Google it and you’ll understand why. Everyone knows the songs and when you hear the tune, or even the voices, you begin to quote lines from them religiously.
“I want to be… A dentist!” — Hermey, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
“Driving a Vixen on the wrong side of the street, and wearing funny clothes on Sunday!” — Policeman, Year Without a Santa Claus
“A yoyo? I love yo-yo’s!” — Burgermeister Meisterburger, Santa Claus is Coming to Town
“Ears, Nestor!” — Nestor’s Mother, Nestor the Long-Eared Donkey
There are so many more that stick in your mind and you can recollect every Christmas, even before the specials begin to air. That’s what makes them timeless classics, even though the old stop motion animation is nothing compared to today’s CGI. My kids use to laugh at these specials, never understanding why I loved them so much. I have to admit, they are a little cheesy and somewhat corny, but I love them. And, as my kids grew older, they began to appreciate the uniqueness of them too.
The other memorable thing about these specials were the stories they told. Before I ever watched “The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus” I never realized the L. Frank Baum (of “The Wizard of Oz” fame) wrote a book about a more mythological origin of Santa Claus. A council of immortals debates whether or not to grant Santa immortality as they examine his life story, which is quite unique. Santa was raised by a lioness, befriends magical creatures, and staves off what are essentially goblins and demons responsible for making good children do bad things. Crazy, right? It is a wonderful story and to watch it and the many unique characters within it. That’s what made it so memorable, even though its barely shown anymore.
“Jack Frost” is another special that’s both fascinating and not really about Christmas. It’s more of a winter special with Christmas thrown in for good measure, and this version of Jack Frost is nothing like the ones seen in other holiday specials and movies (i.e. “Santa Clause 3” or “Rise of the Guardians”). Jack falls in love with a human girl, Elisa, and petitions Father Winter for humanity. Father Winter suggests a rather long list of things for Jack to prove that he can cut it as a human: A horse, a house, a bag of gold, and his wife by spring. This is all complicated by an evil king with a clockwork army and the fact that Elisa already loves someone else. This has a slightly more complicated plot and action that other specials, and it’s definitely bittersweet in the love story department.
So, whether it’s on television, dvd, blueray, or steaming somewhere, these specials will touch your heart and maybe, just maybe, bring a little joy into your holidays in the midst of a pandemic. Trust me when I say, they are worth the trouble of tracking them down and watching. So, please, have a Merry Christmas and a blessed holiday season, for you and your families!
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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.