12 Children's TV Classics for the 12 Days of Christmas


Some of you may think that Christmas is over now that December 25 has come and gone, but the rest of you know that there are indeed twelve days of Christmas.  As a service to you, friends and neighbors, I have selected twelve holiday television specials to keep you entertained and in a festive mood during these dozen days.  I used to love Christmas television specials when I was a child, and now that I'm older, with young nephews and a baby daughter of my own, I've watched enough of these classics to appreciate them even more.

So here they are, my picks for the 12 best children's Christmas TV classics.

1.  Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer -- Hopefully you've seen this legendary stop-motion animation in which the little misfit reindeer teams up with a misfit elf, a misfit silver-and-gold prospector named Yukon Cornelius, and a bunch of misfit toys to battle the fearful Abominable Snowbeast and help Santa Claus save Christmas.  It first aired in 1964 and it's been a perennial television mainstay ever since.

2.  How the Grinch Stole Christmas -- Dr. Seuss gave us one of the best children's stories ever written, and this cartoon version takes it to all new levels.  Forget the atrocious live-action remake starring Jim Carrey and stick to the animated original.

3.  The Year Without a Santa Claus -- This under-rated gem is one of my favorites, especially the Heat Miser and Snow Miser subplot.  Once their song enters your brain, it will never leave.

4.  Frosty the Snowman -- Who can resist this classic tale of a magic hat that brings a snowman to life? 

5.  A Charlie Brown Christmas -- Your heart won't stand a chance when you see that wimpy little excuse for a tree find a holiday home with the Peanuts gang.

6.  Santa Claus is Coming to Town -- Another under-rated jewel, this stop-motion classic starred the voice talents of Fred Astair and Mickey Rooney, telling Santa's origin story.  The songs are great, including one of my faves: "One Foot in Front of the Other."

7.  'Twas the Night Before Christmas -- I'll confess, I was pretty indifferent to this cartoon as a kid, but as the years passed, I've grown quite fond of it.  The dynamics of the mouse family are just wonderful.  Who would have thought that animated characters could have such depth?

8.  Rudolph's Shiny New Year -- If you're actually watching a Christmas Classic a day, then this would be January 1, and what better way to take a break (a sort of 7th inning stretch, if you will) then by watching this "sort of" Christmas special that's really a New Year's special, starring Santa's favorite reindeer, Rudolph, trying to save Baby New Year?

9.  Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol --  It might not fully measure up to the live-action adaptations, but this cartoon version of the Charles Dickens masterpiece comes pretty darn close.

10.  The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus -- Did you know that L. Frank Baum, the creator of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, also wrote a fictional biography of Santa Claus?  This 1980s show brings it to stop-motion animated life. 

11.  Mickey Mouse's Christmas Carol -- One of Mickey's most memorable outings was in this cartoon short alongside Scrooge McDuck.  Hunt it down and enjoy.

12.  The Little Drummer Boy -- Finally, after watching 11 cartoons about a jolly fat man living at the North Pole, about flying reindeer, about a talking snowman, about time-traveling ghosts, and about toys, toys, toys, and gifts, gifts, gifts, do yourself a favor and tune in to this gentle little tale about the true meaning of Christmas, about a little boy who has nothing to give when a special baby is born so he decides to play his heart out on his little drum.

Happy holidays to you all.  Which Christmas specials do you love that I've left out?

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