How well I remember watching the classic Christmas shows through the years, first as a child, later with my own children. The magic of Christmas was wrapped up in those special holiday offerings that came around only once a year. If you missed them, you missed them altogether!
If you grew up in the 1960s as I did, you probably have your own fond memories of watching your favorites. Remember how the soft glow of Christmas lights reflecting on those shiny, silver tinsel icicles — that were such a pain to put on and take off the tree — cast a sort of pixie dust pattern over the room? Even now, sans icicles, of course, that ephemeral glow transports me to a time when the most important thing in my young life was picking out the toys I wanted to find under the tree on Christmas morning. The childlike wonder returns, and I get lost in the magic once again.
After my children were born, we watched many of these programs together as a family. “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” which debuted on television in 1964 when I was the advanced age of 9, was one we looked forward to seeing every year. My grandchildren are watching it now. I wonder, will their children be introduced to Rudolph 20 years in the future?
“Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol’” was another favorite Christmas show when I was growing up. The scene where Scrooge discovers that he’s the person in the grave used to scare little-girl me to death, though, and I refused to watch it unless Mama sat down in the living room with me the whole time.
Mr. Magoo’s version of “A Christmas Carol” began my own love affair with the classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and the three Christmas spirits who reminded the stingy old miser of the true meaning of Christmas. Besides Mr. Magoo’s tale, I have a collection of several versions starring Alastair Sim, George C. Scott, Alec Guinness, The Muppets and Mickey Mouse. One of these days, I am going to hold a Scrooge marathon and see just how many I can binge watch. That will require firing up the old VCR since they are on tape. Hmmm. I wonder if the VCR still works? It’s hooked up to a small TV we bought around 1987 ... Perhaps it would be easier to find them on cable.
My kids had their favorites, too. In the 1980s the California Raisins were quite popular, and a Christmas special, “A Claymation Christmas,” starring the Raisins, made its appearance. I haven’t seen it on the television schedule in quite some time but my family thought it was hilarious. The Smurfs, another cartoon from the 1980s, and ALF – remember the old TV show about the alien life form from the planet Melmac who landed in suburbia? – had Christmas specials, as well. Both are cute little tales but I haven’t seen either on the air in years. They, too, are on VCR tapes along with “Garfield’s Christmas,” “The Story of Santa Claus” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Santa Claus and Charlie Brown still play during the season, but Garfield has apparently disappeared along with the others I mentioned.
It’s time for me to get a tree up and revisit some of these old favorites, if I can find them. I need some of that child-like wonder in my life again and to be reminded that the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future still walk the Earth. To be reminded once again of the immortal words of Tiny Tim, “God bless us, every one.”
Perhaps you need that reminder, too.