When I was growing up, animated Christmas specials were an essential family tradition. Over several years, my brother and I had filled a Betamax tape with our favorites (Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Mickey’s Christmas Carol, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, etc.), and as soon as the Thanksgiving turkey was finished, we simply wore it out. (To be completely honest, I couldn’t swear that the tape didn’t get some play on a few rainy days in July, too.)
As an adult, my affection for Christmas comfort-TV is as strong as ever, and in recent years, I’ve gravitated towards two recent additions that haven’t yet found their way into cable-TV’s non-stop National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation/Elf/A Christmas Story loop.
Nothing quite puts me in the Christmas spirit as quickly as Love Actually, Richard Curtis’ delightful paean to love, the holidays, and good-looking Brits. There’s death and heartache, song and dance, joy and laughter, and the incorrigible Bill Nighy, who ultimately finds the true meaning of Christmas.
The 2003 series finale to the British Office has also become a seasonal staple for me. (Maybe I should just move to London). The two-parter is so triumphantly heart-warming that my subconscious has decided that Yaz’s “Only You” is actually a Christmas song. Just soak in the last eight minutes, as co-writers Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant deliver the Christmas miracle that Office fans had always wanted.
What holiday TV specials will you be looking forward to most this month? Are there any more recent films or TV specials that belong in the pantheon of Christmas classics?