Advent Calendar – Christmas on Television and at the Movies

My childhood memories of television during the holiday season are of a plethora of Christmas shows and specials which would start around the second week of December.

The broadcast premiers of “Merry Christmas Charlie Brown”, “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”, “Frosty the Snowman”, “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” are memories from my childhood. It was usually broadcast once a year and you had to be in front of the television on that night or you would miss it.

Then all the variety shows would have their Christmas specials such as Donny and Marie, Carol Burnett, Andy Williams and Sonny and Cher. There were movie stars that would have a Christmas special such as Bob Hope, and Bing Crosby. They would sometimes bring their entire family on the shows to sing and perform skits. The regular television sitcoms would do a special show for the holidays and it was fun to see what kind of predicaments they would get into.

You would get a broadcast of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “A Christmas Carol” with Alistair Sims, “Miracle on 34th Street” and “The Bishop’s Wife”. A favourite scene from “The Bishop’s Wife” is Dudley, Julia and Sylvester skating in the park. “A Christmas Carol” is best seen in black and white as it does not have the same feeling in colour. You might get a broadcast of several Bing Crosby movies such as “The Bells of St. Mary’s,” “White Christmas” and “Holiday Inn.” “Holiday Inn” is the first time Bing Crosby sang “White Christmas.” These days “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Miracle on 34th Street” seem to be the only two mid twentieth century Christmas movies shown on television anymore.

Watching the holiday specials would be a family event. We could all watch together and sometimes sing along to the songs. The movies became a tradition as well. “A Christmas Carol” was watched on Christmas Eve.

The old children’s classics can still be seen on television so new generations can develop an appreciation for them. If you miss them on television you can get the shows on DVD so that you can watch them when it suits your schedule and with no commercial interruption.

Today there are new shows that have become family favourites such as “Shrek the Halls,” the live action movie of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and the “Home Alone” movies. It would be nice if they could coexist with the old black and white holiday classics without any being excluded. This way a new generation could develop an appreciation for them and they will not be lost.

©2010 – Blair Archival Research

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