What can I say? I love all the Christmas specials that are on at this time of the year, no matter how ridiculous or vapid or low budget, I love them all. So far this year, I’ve seen one on the Hallmark channel about this missing little boy, Chris, who turns out to be the imaginary creation of a little girl whose parents are divorcing. Yet with the help of a fabulous Peter Falk angel Santa guy (and who can dislike Columbo as guardian angel?), not only do the little girl’s parents stay together but the hardened television reporter (played by Patricia Heaton with particularly good hair) finds love in the arms of a young boy (okay, so he may have been all of 25) who promises to love her forever. Sure, there’s a bah humbug element when I type it up, and it’s there all fanciful and trite in very stark black and white, but when you’re watching it, well, it sucks you in.
A couple of weeks ago I saw Elf for the first time, about a very tall man (whattizface from SNL) who was raised at the Northpole by elves and becomes curious about his biological father, who is cannily played by James Caan, you’d hardly know he’s the same recycled Dickensian Scrooge character we see in all these films. The Elf is delightfully out of place in the City and therein lies much of the humor, but the heart of it (for it’s the heart of these holiday shows that make them worth watching year after year, after all) is the love story between Elf and his department store counterelf and the saving of Santa (and thus Christmas) by singing carols of good cheer and believing. Sure it sounds like clapping your hands for Tinkerbell, but nothing surprising there, lots of themes and tropes show up all over the place, but they are fun to watch all the same.
One of my all-time favorites is still It’s a Wonderful Life, there’s just something reassuring about that film, and it’s done particularly well, too. The Scrooge there is truly dreadful, and we hate him almost as much as we hate the Grinch who terrorizes Whoville in the dead of night. I guess what I like best about the Jimmy Stewart film (apart from the romantic love story in it) is the idea of angelic intervention (even if it’s somewhat . . . well, not quite competent intervention). Just gives me the warm fuzzies, you know?
I remember crying as a child over poor Frosty the Snowman when he melted away because of the evil (yep, another) Scrooge character, but then with the first Christmas snow next year, he’ll be back again . . . Happy Birthday!! He shouts to the children, and if they are Christian children, it is indeed a happy birthday for them as well as for him. Another of the cartoons that stands out for me has to be the Charlie Brown Christmas when he goes and gets that sad little tree that’s barely a twig after all the needles fall off and it bends over when he tries to put anything on it, but it all works out right in the end, and something more than Santa Claus and malls and presents and food and drink comes across, something that makes this time of year just a bit more special. All of these shows, really, speak to the magic of this time of year, of this holiday season, and that feels right to me.
Especially for Amber . . . It’s one of my all time faves . . . the Heat Miser, doing a cheery little song and dance. Altogether now . . . I’m Mr. Heat Miser, I’m Mr. Sun; I’m Mr. Green Christmas, I’m Mr. One Hundred and One! . . .I’m toooooo Much!