A not-so-objective ranking of classic Christmas specials

Does "Frosty the Snowman" make the cut? You bet, he does. (AP file)

(MEDIA GENERAL)  ‘Twas the month before Christmas, and the DVR is full–

Of classic Christmas specials. Which to view? I mull.

So many choices, so many shows—

What should I watch? Hey, I know!

I’ll make a list and I’ll check it twice—

Of which ones to watch, and which to put on ice.

Now these are my rankings—don’t complain or whine.

And heaven forbid, please, don’t get “mad online.”

To set the parameters, I’m discussing Christmas specials. I’m not discussing Christmas movies. We can discuss “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” and “Home Alone” another time. No, I’m talking made-for-TV, plays every year Christmas specials. And I’m not including sequels, either. Let’s be honest, if any of these got a sequel, it was because the original was so well received.

(Want my Christmas movie hot take? I’m not a fan of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I know, it’s a classic. I don’t care. I don’t have time to be sad around Christmas.)

DNQ: Any non-classic special

Do they still air the California Raisins’ Christmas special from the 80s? Or the Larry the Cable Guy Gift-r-Done holiday extravaganza? No, because those were flashes in the pan. I’m talking longstanding traditional, watch-it-every-year specials. The “Toy Story” one? Too new. Not classic yet. Maybe in a few years.

7. “The Little Drummer Boy” (1968)

Good ol’ stop-motion animation. It’s a weird relic that is unearthed in some of these old Christmas classics. That being said, “The Little Drummer Boy” doesn’t hold up compared to some others. It comes back to my point that I don’t want to be sad around Christmas. Let’s look at some of the plot points of this one:

  • Aaron is orphaned because bandits kill his parents and burn down his house.
  • Aaron is forced to join a caravan of performers
  • Baba gets hit by a Roman chariot

Ahhh. Fills you with the Christmas spirit, doesn’t it? Also, the Little Drummer Boy song is a total ear worm and it’s pretty annoying when I can’t stop from humming a Christmas song in April.

6. “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” (1970)

This one was just never my favorite. It didn’t stick. However, I will give it credit for planting the seed of my personal disdain of authoritarian governments.

Also, shoutout to Germany for actually having a professional title of burgermeister. It’s like the German equivalent of a town mayor. If I could add burgermeister to my résumé, I totally would.

5. “Frosty the Snowman” (1969)

This one is my 2-year-old’s favorite, mainly because the main “Frosty the Snowman” theme song plays approximately 14 times throughout the 25-minute program.

It’s a welcome break from the stop motion animation, and overall, it is fine, but I have some gripes.

For one, why aren’t these children wearing winter attire? There’s a foot of snow on the ground and they are walking around in knickers and dresses. That’s just bad parenting.

Speaking of bad parenting, Karen decides to skip the $3,000 train tickets (quite fair for a trip all the way to the North Pole, in my opinion) and train-hop with Frosty, only to get lost in the middle of a forest during a snowstorm – on CHRISTMAS EVE. Thankfully, Santa saves the day and Karen returns home, but if she were my daughter, she’d be grounded forever.

4. “A Christmas Story” (1983)

Is this a Christmas movie? Yes. But has it become a Christmas special because of the annual run it gets on Christmas Day? I’d argue it has.

My gripe with “A Christmas Story” is its special treatment. It’s a great movie and deserves a watch, but it doesn’t even make my top 5 of Christmas movies, and for TNT to play it like it’s Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 of the Christmas genre is too much for me.

3. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (1964)

You be you, Rudolph. (AP file)
You be you, Rudolph. (AP file)

This one is my 3-year-old’s favorite. I think it holds up better than the other stop-motion classics, partially because the difficulties the characters face in the story still are so relatable today. The whole movie is about fighting against stereotypes and learning to love yourself.

Shoutout to Hermey for standing up for himself and becoming a dentist. Not only did he follow his own dreams, but he is making bank. I can’t imagine being an elf pays well.

I hope my kids become dentists.

2. “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” (1966)

The Grinch is one of my favorite Christmas classics just like Dr. Seuss is one of my favorite children’s authors. Following Seuss’ trademark weirdness, “The Grinch” is colorful and includes catchy songs. But more than anything, it’s a feel-good special that not only redeems the “bad guy,” but leaves everyone in a better spot than they were before the conflict.

1. “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (1965)

Speaking of the holiday spirit, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” has it in spades. The special runs the full gamut of emotion, expressed through the eyes of a conflicted kid who wants something more than fake, metal trees for a holiday based on love and real emotion and connection. From Linus’ monologue to random dance breaks and the neighborhood rendition of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” “A Charlie Brown Christmas” epitomizes so many things about the holiday.

Also, who doesn’t like Snoopy?

No, I don't want my Christmas specials to be overtly depressing, but I'm all for a depressed child pointing out the holiday season's faults. "A Charlie Brown Christmas" is No. 1 on my list. (Courtesy: ABC)
No, I don’t want my Christmas specials to be overtly depressing, but I’m all for a depressed child pointing out the holiday season’s faults. “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is No. 1 on my list. (Courtesy: ABC)

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