The promos for classic Christmas shows are coming on TV again like old friends. This is something I would miss if I didn’t have cable and relied solely on the Internet for my programmes – the anticipation of waiting to see when Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was coming on. Or Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Or A Charlie Brown Christmas.
When the networks still ruled the airwaves, those shows would come on only once or twice in the season, so you’d plan your week around when they were airing. If you missed them, you’d have to wait until next year. It was frustrating – your life was at the whim of network executives. But it didn’t feel that way. No, the waiting was exciting – it increased the anticipation for Christmas Day – upping the ante and causing us to shiver with excitement. It simply became part of the tradition, part of the fabric of Christmas.
And those shows have become so familiar – when I see them now, I’m immediately transported.
I can cry, for instance, within 5 minutes of It’s A Wonderful Life coming on the television. It doesn’t matter where in the movie I tune in … after years and years of watching it, the response to those familiar black and white images is Pavlovian. It’s emotional manipulation on the part of director Frank Capra (Arsenic and Old Lace, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington), to be sure, but this is one time I don’t mind it.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas is another one I loved in my childhood. I waited every year for it to be on TV and watched it greedily when it finally arrived – knowing I wouldn’t see it again for another year. Of course I’m talking about the original Grinch, the animated version with horror movie denizen Boris Karloff doing the voice of the Grinch. The Jim Carrey live-action one doesn’t hold a candle to that, I don’t think.
When I was living in Northern Ireland and I mentioned the Grinch to my husband and stepson, they didn’t know the animated Grinch. I simply couldn’t watch the Jim Carrey one. So my brother, bless him, sent us over a copy of the Dr. Zeuss classic and I was able to introduce them – and my daughter – to part of my childhood. She watched that DVD over and over again – winter, spring summer and fall, she loved it so much. I wonder what life lessons she learned from it? What fascinated her so much?
The nostalgia is the thing that keeps me coming back to these shows – but seeing them with new people, introducing them to a new audience helps me see them through fresh eyes.