A very special Christmas special.

I’ve always really loved the Christmas season, and I remember being thrilled as a child when the Christmas specials started coming on TV. Remember actually looking things up in the TV Guide, and then planning to be home to watch them? If you missed The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, or A Charlie Brown Christmas, you missed them. You didn’t get to flip on your PVR or watch it on You Tube. If a show you wanted to watch was coming on at 7:00 on Tuesday, you would clear your damn schedule and watch it at 7:00 on Tuesday.

While I’m reminiscing about those old school days and wondering if the Kiehl’s counter has eye cream that actually WILL perform miracles, remember when cartoon specials were created based on the actual comic strips that were in the newspaper? Do kids still get excited by the “funny papers?” I looked forward to Sundays because of the colour comic section in the paper, and I would still read the hell out of them today, if we got the paper.

I’m pretty sure there was a Garfield Christmas special, based on the comic strip, and I know there was a For Better or Worse one. That one stuck with me because the girl in the comic, Elizabeth, gets lost – possibly in a blizzard – and is saved by an angel, somewhat like the mean girl scene in Cat’s Eye. How did you get home, Elizabeth? Who helped you? But there’s no one there…

One thing I’ve learned about myself through years of watching Christmas specials and also The Lord Is My Shepherd episode of Little House on the Prairie is that if there is a child who is lost and is guided back by an angel, I WILL be a sobbing mess by the end of the show.

Speaking of sobbing messes, when I was a child I watched a show called The Small One at Sunday School one December, proving that even Sunday School teachers need a movie day now and then. This show has stuck with me for life, and I still get all choked up thinking about it. Small One was a donkey, beloved by a boy whose father needs to tighten belts, so to speak. Small One is old, and unable to carry the giant loads of sticks that apparently donkeys are prized for, and yet, he still eats JUST AS MUCH as he always did. This is a lose/lose situation for the boy’s father, who tells his son to go to the city and sell his beloved pet donkey.

I think we all know where this is going. People aren’t buying pet donkeys. They want a) a donkey that can carry heavy loads, or b) leather. The boy finds a man willing to buy Small One, but the gig is up when the boy sweetly says to take good care of his donkey. The man, standing there with actually sharpening his knife, looks at him like he’s an idiot, and says he doesn’t care how much Small One likes to be scratched behind the ears, he just wants his hide. The boy looks around and sees all sorts of animals – including sheep, which strikes me as strange – and realizes they are all bound to be turned into leather sandals. He books it out of there, going through mishap after mishap, and finally ends up on some side street somewhere, with his unsold pet donkey.

But lo, a kind man comes up to the boy. He’s looking for a donkey, and not for its hide or to work it until he drops dead, either. He wants a very special donkey for a very special trip. It’s Joseph! The donkey is to carry Mary to Bethlehem. Which is sweet, and always made me kind of verklempt as a child, but thinking about it now, how would a donkey that wasn’t able to carry sticks would be able to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem with an enormously pregnant woman on its back? I mean…

Well. I’ve kind of ruined the show for myself now, but at least I won’t waste my valuable time watching it on YouTube when I could be reciting The Grinch Who Stole Christmas by rote. Priorities!


2 thoughts on “A very special Christmas special.

  1. There is indeed a Garfield Christmas special and it’s actually really good – not like the Garfield Halloween special, which is a nightmare-inducing hallucinogenic cautionary tale about eating too much candy before bed. The Christmas one is delightful and sweet. Jon takes Garfield and Odie to the “old family farm” for Christmas, and we find out that Jon is the pencil-necked geek who left rural life behind to live in the suburbs. Back home is Mom, Dad, his brother Doc Boy, and his Grandma – clearly his Dad’s mother, because there is a very funny side plot about Grandma messing with Mom’s special sausage gravy behind her back.


    There’s a Christmas Eve scene where Grandma is sitting in her rocking chair with Garfield in her lap, talking softly to him about her late husband and how much she misses him. Garfield finds an bundle of old love letters for her from “when we were courting” and gives them to her for Christmas. CUE THE WATERWORKS. Even as a dumb kid it was poignant; as an adult it breaks me just thinking about it. It still airs on YTV every year, I think – grab a box of tissues and check it out. It has a really nice message of embracing family & letting go of cynicism about the holidays.


  2. To satisfy your curiosity, we get the newspaper and the kids do read the Sunday comics, not every week, but often.

    I was just thinking we should break out the Christmas specials this weekend. I like to start with Frosty or the Grinch or Charlie Brown, but I’m sure everyone will have opinions.


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