Animated Christmas specials have become traditional to American holiday celebrations, ever since they first began airing in 1970s. Stop-motion productions like Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus is Comin' to Town became instant classics, and have since been aired in marathons and special segments on TV for decades, and become an integral part of many families' Christmas festivities.
Here are the Top 5 animated Christmas Specials you don't want to miss this holiday season.
One of the earliest animated specials produced by Rankin/Bass, Santa Claus is Comin' to Town follows the origins of the world's greatest toy giver, from his infancy to his childhood raised by a group of toy makers, and even to how he met Mrs. Claus and reindeer gained the ability to fly. It's an adorable tale that adds a rich back story to the man in red, and one that has captured the hearts of children and adults alike for over 30 years.
We've all heard the Christmas carol about the snowman who came to life thanks to a magical top hat, but seeing him in action and the misadventures his condition get him into is a different story entirely, and one you don't want to miss. The caroling, dancing, and innocent humor throughout capture the true essence of Christmas cheer and make this an all-around enjoyable, lighthearted special.
Following the same plot as Dickens' classic Christmas tale that illustrates the evil of human greed and idolization of money, Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol places everyone's favorite old man in the shoes of Scrooge, the vain and bitter elderly worker who is haunted by three separate ghosts who wish to show him the error of his ways before he ruins his life. The special has been met with mixed reviews, with some claiming that the beloved Mr. Magoo in such a role was hard to believe, and others praising the execution overall, particularly given the fact that it's the first special of its kind to be made for a network (in this case, NBC). If you enjoy the original story, or have a soft spot for Mr. Magoo, then try to catch the special when your local airs it this Christmas.
Dr. Seuss' classic children's book has become a worldwide Christmas favorite, depicting the adventure of WhoVille's green, heartless monster who lives alone in isolation, loathing of everyone and everything, and decides to steal Christmas. It's a story that reminds us it isn't about what we receive, but how much we give, and reminds children that kindness is always the best choice. Adults, too, will remember that it's never too late to open your heart and give again.
It's hard to imagine Christmas without thinking of Santa's favorite reindeer, the one whose red, glowing nose helped make the most difficult voyage of the year possible. It's not just a fun adventure for the whole family to enjoy together, but it also carries the ever powerful and important message that more often than not, our differences aren't to be concealed, but celebrated. - Brandon Engel
Mr. Engel is a blogger in Chicago with a passion for Victorian literature and vintage science-fiction films. Follow him on Twitter @BrandonEngel2.