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Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Buffy Episode "Amends" is one of TV Guide’s favourite Christmas TV episodes

Monday 5 December 2005, by Webmaster

When you’ve had about all you can take of shopping, there is nothing like sitting down in front of the TV and watching some of your favorite holiday TV specials and episodes. So we recommend that you either rent or check listings for these favorites, perfect for curling up on the couch with your family and a cup of cocoa.

The Simpsons (Season 1, "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire")

Sure, the animation on this premiere Simpsons episode lacks the luster and color of the current seasons, but this holiday tale brought the offbeat family into our homes and hearts. Christmas is nearly ruined when Bart gets a tattoo that is supposed to say Mother (but ends up saying Moth), and all the gift-buying money is used to get it removed. D’oh! To make ends meet, Homer gets a job playing Santa (he does have the big belly) but loses the extra cash at the track. Double d’oh! In the end the only present that arrives on Christmas is the poor losing greyhound - Santa’s Little Helper. But the kids are thrilled with the pup and he’s welcomed to the family for years to come.

The O.C. (Season 1, "The Best Chrismukkah Ever")

Leave it to The O.C. to bring a new holiday into the lexicon. Seth Cohen, who is the offspring of a Jewish dad and a Christian mom, combines both Hanukkah and Christmas to get the best of both worlds - and the most presents. Despite the obstacles in front of him - his dad working through the holiday, his own dilemma of staying just friends with both Anna and Summer, Marissa getting busted for stealing a watch - Seth is determined to give Ryan the best first impression of the holiday. And while it’s a long and rocky road, everyone surviving intact is one of the biggest Chrismukkah miracles of all time.

A Rugrats Chanukah

This Nickelodeon series may not have all its facts straight, but it does get across the meany, or meaning, of Hanukkah to the toddler set. While being told the story of Hanukkah, the babies reenact the story for themselves with Tommy as Judas Maccabee. Interspersed among the historical aspects are the modern-day tales of Grandpa Boris running into his old nemesis, Schlomo (aka the Meany of Hanukkah), who is playing the lead in the play at the synagogue. Also explained by the babies: latkes, menorahs and dreidels.

Seinfeld (Season 9, "The Strike")

Unique and completely different from most Christmas-themed episodes of a series, but what else would you expect from Seinfeld? Interspersed among Kramer’s strike on a bagel store, Elaine’s obsession with bad subs, Jerry’s sometimes-unattractive girlfriend and George’s creation of the Human Fund to get out of gift-giving, is the mention of the fledgling holiday created by George’s father. Annoyed by the commercialization of Christmas, he invented Festivus, a holiday for the rest of us. On December 23 everyone gathers round the tinsel-free Festivus aluminum poll instead of one of those typical Christmas trees to enjoy a nice holiday dinner and air their grievances by telling loved ones how they’ve disappointed in the past year. Then the head of the family competes in tests of strength as others try to wrestle him to the ground. Sounds like good times.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season 3, "Amends")

Not your typical holiday fare, but this touching episode highlights the tormented relationship of Buffy and Angel while bringing in the haunting ghostly themes from stories like A Christmas Carol. As the holidays approach and Buffy and her pals plan their celebrations, Angel is being plagued by nightmares and visions of Jenny Calendar (or a possessed version of her), whom he killed the previous year. Convinced that he will never be able to escape his demon side and that he’ll always be a danger to those he cares about, the vampire with a soul heads to a mountain to commit suicide (of sorts) by sunlight. Buffy vainly tries to convince him that he is worthy of staying alive, but he refuses to budge as daybreak nears. But miraculously, it begins to snow for the first time ever in Sunnydale, providing a sun-free Christmas and extending Angel’s existence on earth.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

The holidays wouldn’t be quite the same without this adorable underdog tale. Rudolph with his nose-so-bright is shunned by the other antlered creatures, so he befriends Herbie, an elf who wants to pursue dentistry. Together they leave the North Pole in search of green pastures. On their journey they meet a miner, have a run-in with the abominable snowman and find themselves on an island full of unwanted, misfit toys. But Rudolph returns home with his friends, just in time to help Santa save Christmas by guiding his sleigh with the light from his nose. Filled with memorable tunes - the title song, "A Holly, Jolly Christmas," and "Silver and Gold" - that young and old will enjoy singing along with, and narrated by a snowman version of Burl Ives, this will make any day "The Most Wonderful Day of the Year."

A Charlie Brown Christmas

A sweet classic that takes a look at the overcommercialism of Christmas and the true meaning of the holiday. That seems pretty cynical for an animated story featuring the Peanuts, and while the deeper meaning may be lost on some of the audience, this much-beloved and re-aired special is truly must-see TV this time of year. Charlie Brown is directing the pageant at his school, but when he returns from picking out a small tree that needed love, he’s mocked for not getting the expected aluminum one. He almost loses faith in the holiday, but Linus rallies around the limp little tree and saves the day. And his speech about the true meaning of Christmas will leave not a dry eye in the household.

The Year Without a Santa Claus

We’ve all felt a little run-down and underappreciated at our jobs at some point, so why wouldn’t Santa? In this classic animated adventure from Rankin and Bass (the duo who also created Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman), that’s exactly what happens. Santa sends Vixen and two elves to find proof that the Christmas spirit still exists. But while the trio are out searching, they run into a bit of trouble with Mother Nature’s two kids, the Heat Miser and the Snow Miser, and Vixen gets tossed in the pound. So Santa springs into action to save his loyal friends and learns that the spirit of the holiday really does still exist. And even though the Heat Miser gets a bum rap, his song is probably the most memorable and entertaining tune in the special.

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Sure there’s a newer big-budget adventure out there that tells this Dr. Seuss story, but nothing beats this classic cartoon with the green monster - the Grinch. The sweet and unsuspecting Whos down in Whoville live to celebrate the holidays, but the Grinch, with his too-small heart, wants to put a stop to it. So he dresses up as Santa, sneaks off his mountaintop perch, and steals all of the holiday decorations, presents and sweet treats - even the Roast Beast from the town. But the unstoppable spirit of the community and the adorable Cindy Loo Who end up warming the Grinch’s hardened heart.

Olive, the Other Reindeer

Along the lines of Rudolph’s timely Christmas Eve flight, Olive, the Other Reindeer, a sweet modern tale filled with pop-culture references, is sure to be fun for the whole family. Tiny dog Olive (voiced by Drew Barrymore) hears on the radio that Santa is going to have to cancel his trip because one of his reindeer is injured. The radio sends a call out for "all of the other reindeer" to help, and Olive mishears it as "Olive, the other reindeer." Determined, she heads to the North Pole to help. Along the way she helps out many people and contends with an evil mailman who wants to take the holiday down because of the extra letters he’s overloaded with during this time of year.

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