“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was one of our family’s TV-time rituals when my children were young. For years, they giggled at Rudolph’s red nose, hid their faces at the Abominable Snowman’s first appearance, and cheered when Rudolph led Santa’s sleigh through the fog. But the viewing I treasure most is the one when our oldest asked for a definition of “misfit” and then shook his fist at those who made fun of Rudolph, Hermey, and the Misfit Toys. Later, he told me of similar situations he’d witnessed in the neighborhood and in his preschool class. Even though he was too young to use “empathy” in a sentence, the Christmas special taught him its meaning.
“There’s a magic to this season, when hope shines so brightly, handed down from the faith-based origin of the holiday as a commemoration of Jesus’ birth as a savior to humankind. Even many nonbelievers take the Christmas season to heart for its associated spirit of peace, generosity, acceptance, and reconciliation. Despite the annual shopping frenzy, the world seems to promise us a moment of tranquility and togetherness, of shared traditions and experiences, of a spiritual plane where people put aside their differences, where all is right with the world …
“In an era of 200 channels, the yule provides an easy episode hook and a handy promotional platform. But that’s only because we care about Christmas so much already.”
Her list of the most enduring Christmas TV of all time–created from a library of more than 800 episodes, specials, movies and documentaries spanning 55 years of television history–includes:
From the 1960s: The Jack Benny Program, “The Judy Garland Christmas Show, “A Charlie Brown Christmas”
From the 1970s: Little House on the Prairie
From the 1980s: Married … with Children, “Pee-wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special”
From the 1990s: Everybody Loves Raymond, Home Improvement, Northern Exposure, Nothing Sacred
Journal Entry: What one holiday TV show or movie is a must-see for your family every year? Why? Describe three times your family has watched it together. What “new” message did your children hear during each viewing?