As a child I always looked forward to all the Holiday Specials like "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year), "The Year Without a Santa Claus", "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town", "The Little Drummer Boy", "Frosty the Snowman", "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas". These shows were all mandatory family viewing in our house. After the show we as a family discussed what we learned. "The Little Drummer Boy" taught us that a gift does not have to be a tangible object. The Grinch taught us "Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!" Charlie Brown taught us what Christmas is all about from a Biblical perspective. And Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer taught us not to discriminate against someone who is different, because you may want to exploit that person's abnormality for your own personal gain. Speaking of Santa, did he have an eating disorder? His codependent wife kept saying, "Eat, Poppa, eat. You're gonna disappoint the children. They expect a fat Santa". And when did Mrs. Claus become an Italian mother? According to Rankin & Bass, Santa had a different wife with every story. And not only was Rudolph's father (Donner) ashamed of his son for being different, he was also a chauvinistic pig telling his wife that a woman's place was in the cave. If I was Rudolph when Santa came to me on that foggy Christmas Eve saying, "Rudolph, with your nose so bright, wont you guide my sleigh tonight?" I would have told everyone at the North Pole to go screw themselves and gone to work for PeTA.
As an adult I would hear something about a controversy associated with one of these holiday specials. Usually the controversy would involve some of the things I just joked about. A character was perpetuating a negative stereotype. A negative story line (You kind of need the negative part in order to get to the moral of the story) or that the story was no longer Politically Correct. Strangely enough, I have never heard anyone complain about the religious theme in "A Charlie Brown Christmas". I can't help but to think that parents aren’t watching these shows with their kids and talking about them afterwards. Instead they would prefer more low maintenance or watered down stories with no lessons to be learned. These shows were meant to be family viewing not to be used as a babysitter. I understand that things are different now with both parents working, but then again we now also have VCRs and DVD players so you are not limited to network scheduling.
Finally, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. The people who grew up with these holiday specials have paid homage to these great shows. SNL's Robert Smigel honored A Charlie Brown Christmas on his TV Funhouse. MAD TV honored Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with Raging Rudolph. And Office Max honors Rankin & Bass in their latest commercial featuring the Rubber Band Man.
To quote Linus Van Pelt (and the Gospel according to Luke - Chapter 2:8-14) from A Charlie Brown Christmas, "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not, for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you this day is born in the City of Bethlehem, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel, a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men'". That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown".
Stay Tuned and Merry Christmas