Christmas is coming—fast—and I’ve been such a Scrooge. Usually, I’m so far ahead of the holiday game that people are envious. This year, we didn’t get the tree up until December 12th. The presents are hidden away, completely unwrapped. I’m not even entirely sure I’m done shopping. And the most shameful thing? We haven’t watched a single holiday special. Who am I? My mother would be so disappointed.
This week we are going to find our holiday spirit, so I thought I’d share some of my favourite holiday specials you can watch before Christmas!
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Though not unique, this is my go-to holiday special every year. If I watch ONE special, it’s this one. Not because I think it’s the best. Not because it’s the most traditional. I watch this one because it brings me closer to my mom. When I think of Christmas, I think of her. I may not be curled up on her couch watching it anymore, but each time I put it on, I’m brought right back there, eating her shortbread and mixed nuts surrounded by Christmas decorations on every surface.
The show has stuck with me my whole life, and now I can share it with my son and daughter. I will tell you to be cautious, as the abominable snowman can frighten the wee ones (or some adults I know!). Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is listed on Amazon Prime Video, though unavailable in my region. You can also find it to rent on Apple TV for $9.99. I happened to find the full film on YouTube too!
The Muppet Christmas Carol
This holiday special is my dad, through and through. Though he is no longer with us, anything Muppets is a call back to him. Statler and Waldorf were his favourite characters from the franchise, and they get a whole song and dance number in The Muppet Christmas Carol. Feeling a little closer to my dad each year makes watching this one a must, but it’s great for all ages, and who doesn’t love The Muppets?
This will be the first year that I introduce it to my kids. I can’t wait to see what they think. Find The Muppet Christmas Carol on Disney+, available to stream for free. You can also find it on Amazon Prime Video to rent for $3.99, or to buy for $9.99.
This one is more for the adults in the family but is by far my personal favourite holiday special. Bill Murray plays Frank Cross, a particularly cruel television executive. Scrooged is another take on the famous A Christmas Carol story, but Murray’s over-the-top acting makes it far more entertaining than any other version. It’s only rated PG, but I probably wouldn’t recommend it for most kids, they won’t get it, and there is definitely some language that is less than desirable.
Scrooged was released the year I was born, but as I grew up, it somehow fell in my lap, and it has been a part of my regular rotation every holiday since. I could go on forever, but Carol Kane is by far my favourite part as the Ghost of Christmas Present. Unfortunately, if you don’t own it, you’re going to have to rent this holiday special or wait for it to come on TV. Scrooged is available on YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play Store, Apple TV to rent between $3.99 and $4.99 or to buy for $9.99.
Just the first Home Alone. I personally pretend there aren’t sequels and remakes. I always complained about the concept of parents leaving their child behind and said the premise was far too out there, but now that I am a parent…I may have been wrong. Of course, I’m not leaving my children behind anywhere, but I couldn’t imagine planning a trip for that many people during the holiday season. It’s chaotic enough here with just the four of us!
This year my son watched Home Alone with his Grandma and cousins for the first time. She was sending me videos. He was literally on the edge of his seat, cheering every time Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern got hurt. Maybe not the best for the holiday spirit, but he loved it. This year, Home Sweet Home Alone was released on Disney+ as well, if you’re looking for a more recent version. Home Alone can be streamed on Disney+, and rented for $4.99 on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Google Play Store and YouTube.
A Christmas Story
I won’t lie, this one isn’t one of my favourites, but it’s a classic and happens to have been partially filmed in St Catharines, where I was born and raised, and is now home to CGMagazine! Boomers still remember getting the latest Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas. It remains a punch of nostalgia for most of our parents, which means it probably is for most of us too.
The film is still highly quoted 38 years later, and if you look at any fan expo or holiday store, you will most certainly find A Christmas Story merch, especially the famous leg lamp. Unfortunately, like Scrooged, this is either a buy or rent situation too, since no one is streaming it for free. For $4.99, you can rent A Christmas Story on Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Google Play Store and Apple TV.