Say what you will about the commercialization of the holiday season, but I am all for it. I love Christmas commercials, Christmas advertisements, Christmas movies, Christmas bottling and packaging. The greatest part of the commercialized Christmas is the Christmas television episodes.
Now, I’m not saying that the commercialization of Christmas should take away from the true meaning, but I do think it can add a great deal to the Christmas season. There’s room for both. I hear people say that they can’t get into the Christmas spirit, perhaps these episodes of television classics can help. This is my list of the top 10 television Christmas episodes of all. I didn’t include the obvious Christmas specials, like Peanuts and It’s A Wonderful Life because those weren’t regular series.
10. Ozzie and Harriet (1957) “The Christmas Tree Lot”
Ricky and David Nelson come across problems after deciding to sell Christmas trees to buy a gift for their father, Ozzie. I include this episode because it’s one of the first Christmas episodes of any television series. The dry humor of the family may be lost on people who aren’t aware of the series, but for fans, this is one of the coolest old episodes of any series. Ricky and David are older in this one and Ricky was on his way to becoming a great early rock star and teen phenom.
9. The Wonder Years (1988) “Christmas”
Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage) is in love with Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar). Every boy in 1988 was. The difference is, Kevin Arnold had to buy her a Christmas gift…for six bucks. The Arnold family also comes to grips with the onset of color television on Christmas of 1968. Wayne Arnold was a butt-head about the whole thing…as usual.
8. Growing Pains (1986) “The Kid”
Ben Seaver (Jeremy Miller) brings a homeless girl home on Christmas Eve and the family’s plans change as they end up trying to help the girl escape from a life on the street. Mr. Seaver (Alan Thicke) uses his fatherly skills to bring peace on Christmas morning.
7. Silver Spoons (1982) “The Best Christmas Ever”
Rick Schroder (Ricky Stratton) and Joel Higgins (Edward Stratton III) are a rich and happy father and son. While preparing for their Christmas at the coolest house in sitcom history, a young homeless family seeks shelter in a nearby cave. (Not realistic, but heart wrenching nonetheless.)
Joey Lawrence (Joey Thompson) plays the cute kid who sneaks into the Stratton home to sneak some food to feed his family for Christmas. Ricky finds Joey and insists on playing Santa for the family. Edward joins in and the Stratton family ends up giving their own Christmas gifts to the Thompson family, along with hiring on the Joey’s father to the Stratton Toy Company.
6. Happy Days (1974) “Guess Who’s Coming to Christmas”
Henry Winkler (Fonzie) is highlighted in this episode while he tells Al how the Cunningham family and he spent Christmas together. Fonzie doesn’t have a family to spend his Christmas with. The episode ends with Fonzie being asked to say the blessing over the Cunningham Christmas dinner, truly showing he was now a part of the family.
5. Seinfeld (1997) “The Strike”
This episode should’ve been called “Festivus” instead. George’s father sets aside December 23rd as the anti-holiday of holidays. I hesitated to include this episode because it really doesn’t do much to put me in a Christmas mood, but I can’t deny that I think of Festivus every year around this time.
The Feats of Strength, the Airing of Grievances, and wrestling seems to be what most families are thinking around December 26th, right after spending the holidays with their families.
4. Touched by an Angel (1994) “Fear Not”
While Monica (Roma Downey) and Tess (Della Reese) are on their mission to help a small church put on a Christmas pageant, they find out what horrible church music is all about. They befriend a handicapped boy, Joey, who fears the dark after his parents die in a car wreck at night. Wayne (Randy Travis) is a cold man who is tired of Joey always screwing things up. When Joey’s friend Selena dies, Monica has to convince Wayne to accept Joey and love him. The finale’ of this episode is one of the biggest tearjerkers of all time.
3. M*A*S*H* (1980) “Death Takes a Holiday”
Father Mulcahy prepares for a Christmas party for the children locally and Winchester has unsuspectedly been saving up his favorite chocolates for the kids. The cast is always great, but there’s an incredibly well-done heartfelt storyline with a soldier who is mortally wounded and dying on Christmas day. The doctors are doing everything in their power to keep him alive through the night so his family doesn’t have to be told their soldier died on Christmas Day.
2. Little House on the Prairie (1974) “Christmas at Plum Creek”
Michael Landon (Charles Ingalls) and Melissa Gilbert (Laura Ingalls) are experiencing the problem people have had for years, providing the perfect gift for their family without having the money. Laura ends up giving her very best to give her mother the perfect gift. The entire family learns the true meaning of Christmas, and little Carrie gives her Christmas penny to buy a present for the Baby Jesus.
- Highway To Heaven (1986) “Basinger’s New York”
Michael Landon (Jonathan Smith) and Victor French (Mark) are on a mission from God…literally. Their assignment is a newspaper columnist named Jeb, played by the great television actor Richard Mulligan (Empty Nest). Jeb, a recent divorcee’, can’t seem to get in the Christmas spirit and has become cynical toward mankind in general.
Jonathan and Mark take Jeb with them as they help a modern day Joseph and Mary (who are expecting a child) to find shelter since they are homeless, hungry, and in need of a hospital. On their way, they help a cab driver find his missing son, a senator and his wife find love, and a group of homeless men find purpose in life.
Jeb gets his Christmas story, miracle after miracle, and Jonathan and Mark show that an angel and a bunch of wise men can really make a difference. This is number one on my list because it includes every aspect of what a great Christmas episode should include, the manger scene, Mary and Joseph, being thankful, angels on a mission, giving, a bad guy who doesn’t have room in the inn, learning a lesson of selflessness, a miracle or two, reuniting a family, and the poor being rescued from despair.
For more great links to some show that will put you in the Christmas spirit, check out http://www.fanpop.com/spots/christmas/articles/64/title/watch-101-classic-christmas-videos-online