When I was a kid, Christmas season hadn’t officially kicked in until we started the parade of Christmas specials. Rudolph usually started things off, and we continued through Frosty, the Grinch, and of course, Charlie Brown and his sad little droopy pine bough that somehow transforms into a full fledged tree. Still looking for one of those elusive pink aluminum trees, by the way. When the first December TV Guide came out we would scour the listings for all the specials and write down when we needed to be parked in front of the TV, popcorn in hand.
Things are different now. It started with the VCR, continued on through DVDs and now we have the miracle of TiVO. I can now watch my specials wherever and whenever I want. But still, there is something lackluster about doing it that way and I can’t explain why. I kind of miss the McDonalds commerical with the sad little girl ice skating and then Ronald shows up and gives her his scarf, or the one with PEEEEEEEEETER!! coming home and making Folger’s or Taster’s Choice or whatever crummy coffee crystal du jour they were plugging. (Obviously the former did a better job with the brand name recognition, eh?) Someone tell me I’m not the only one who remembers those cheesy 80s Christmas season commercials.
Still, despite the magic spark that is missing along with the bad advertisements, there are advantages to having satellite TV and a TiVO. Until recently, I had to dust off my VCR and wrestle with setting it up if I wanted to see some of my older, weirder specials that are hard to find on TV. No more. Thanks to the power of my TiVO index I can tell it to record “The Life and Adventures of Santa” on ABC Family (the one written by Frank L. Baum) and without skipping a beat, also record “Tis the Season to Be Smurfy.” And “The Year Without a Santa Claus.” And the one with the mouse that calls Santa a fraud and Santa is so vindictive he screws over the whole town.
For even more obscure choices, I have Amazon to thank. This year I found both “A Wish for Wings that Work” (the Bloom County Christmas special) and “The Claymation Christmas Special” featuring the California raisins. Last year I bought the quintessential 80s special, “A Garfield Christmas.” I can pretty much pass out in front of the TV, inhaling cocoa and watching special after special until I reach divine enlightenment or candy cane induced sugar coma, whichever comes first.
If anyone else wants to pull up a bowl and join me, check out the Christmas Wiki for the most recent updates about what you can record and when. And if you need to find me on Christmas morning, look no further than TBS, where I am trying to catch the entire “Christmas Story” marathon before I die. RALPHIE!