“So tell us over here at Philosophy Matters what brings you comfort when the weather gets colder. Is it family? Friends? A lucky sweatshirt or a favorite meal? How do you know when it is time to reach for that comfort?”
Today, I’m going to respond to those queries by discussing a few of my favorite Christmas television specials. Admittedly, I do not always handle nostalgia very well…even good nostalgia associated with the holidays and being a child. However, I still enjoy watching these tales, and I suspect I do feel something akin to what LKAwesome calls “comforting.” Truth be told, I really, really, really enjoy children’s media in general, and I could go on forever about all the different shows I seek to view for each holiday period throughout the year. I am confident that I enjoy such things (e.g., cartoons) more than my five-year-old niece (and probably most other children). I’m just going to highlight three for now: A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965), Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town (1970), and Scrooge (1951).
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
You can check out A Charlie Brown Christmas on Hulu:
So, yeah…this is probably one of the most referenced holiday specials of all time…and will likely continue to be in the foreseeable future. However, the message of commercialization of Christmas can only be even more meaningful almost 50 years after its debut. I’m not sure Black Friday even existed in 1965…much less any stores being open on Thanksgiving Day. Other than commercialism, there are a lot of other themes in this cartoon. For example, Charlie Brown does quite a bit individually to make a difference, so “the power of one” is one. Also, I like the premise of beauty being in the eyes of the beholder regarding the tiny, natural Christmas tree. This special has also spawned quite a few spoofs. My favorite is the Robert Smigel TV Funhouse one shown on SNL:
Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town (1970)
I love all the stop-motion and claymation specials of the holiday season! This tidbit is one of the reasons I get excited each year for ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas. This holiday special exemplar stands out to me because it is the first one I recall seeing in my life. It is one of the various Santa Claus origin stories, and it’s narrated by Fred Astaire! It’s full of silly songs, semi-scary parts, goofy bad guys, and a happy ending.
So there are over 20 film adaptations of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, and that doesn’t include the various television episodes and theatre productions using the source material. This version is one of my favorites—and I’m actually a connoisseur of this story—primarily due to the believable and sincere portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge by Alastair Sim. If memory serves me correctly, they also released a color version of it in the late 1980s, but I wasn’t able to find that version online. There are some differences between the film and the novel, but overall I think it still preserves the intended sentiments of Dickens. This tale takes a different look at Christmas compared to most other stories; Dickens isn’t afraid to examine huge, existential issues within the subtext of a family holiday. It would take a while to list and unpack each of the major themes, but the one that resonates with me the most is redemption. I’ve even considered creating a class on the subject because of the influence of this film.
Aloha for now!