"Can't come over," the text read. "Watching Rudolph."
It was at that moment, last night while making evening plans, that I went from an unaffiliated observer in the War on Christmas Creep to a drafted soldier. CBS was airing the Rankin-Bass Christmas special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on November 26th. Two full days before Thanksgiving.
The War on Christmas Creep is different than the Sarah Palin-backed War on Christmas that demands a cessation to all expressions of "Happy Holidays." Christmas Creep is real, I just hadn't had much of a problem with it. Christmas decorations up the week after Halloween? Sure! Christmas sales in the stores in mid-November? People gotta shop. Christmas songs on the radio stations? Who would object to an extra couple weeks of Darlene Love? Starbucks breaking out the winter menu while it was still fall? I defy you to honestly complain about a peppermint mocha. It's not like Thanksgiving had any accoutrements that were being infringed upon. No one was getting hurt. And then CBS aired the Rankin-Bass Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer special on November 26th, and everything changed. Had appeasement led to this moment? That's a question I'll be asking myself for the rest of my life.
Look. Thanksgiving is super late this year. I get it. (I also get the concept of "sweeps," but let's not muddy this bit of righteous indignation with economics.) But airing Rudolph out of season isn't just airing a beloved Christmas special when audiences aren't in the proper frame of mind for it. It's also -- because CBS is super stingy with the specials they hold the rights for and will only air it once a year -- taking it out of commission for the entire month of December. You're actually making Christmas worse, CBS.
So, in the interest of making sure that we are all as informed as we can be about the willy-nilly airing of Christmas specials throughout the holiday season -- and so we don't get fooled by lookalike business like Rudolph's Shiny New Year (that's a whole only angry screed) -- we need to come up with a schedule. ScreenCrush has been quite helpful in this regard, compiling a list of when the holiday specials are airing.
Of particular note:
- The animated Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas is airing on ABC on Friday November 29th at 8pm. (It's November, but it's post-Thanksgivng, so I'll let it slide.)
- ABC will also air A Charlie Brown Christmas at 8pm on Monday, December 2.
- ABC Family will air Scrooged on Tuesday, December 3rd at 8pm. In the past, AMC had the rights to Scrooged and would air it throughout the season. This year, it looks like just this once. (Though, honestly, why don't you own this movie?)
- National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is another movie you should actually own -- along with Home Alone, Love Actually, The Ref, and Gremlins to complete your holiday viewing -- but if you don't, ABC Family is doing you a solid by airing it four times: Wednesday December 4th at 8pm, and again on December 15th, 20th, and on Christmas Day.
- ABC Family will air A Muppet Christmas Carol on Friday December 6th at 6:30pm, and again on Monday, December 23rd at 8pm. (This is not, however, the superior A Muppet Family Christmas, which for some terrible reason doesn't air on TV during the holidays.)
- Frosty the Snowman is another CBS hostage, airing once and only once, on Friday December 6th at 8pm. (DO NOT be fooled by the 6pm airing of Frosty's Winter Wonderland on ABC Family that same day. That special is an inferior product designed to trick good people and ruin their holidays. DON'T LET THEM.)
- Rankin-Bass's Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (that's the one with Fred Astaire narrating and the villainous Burgermeister Meisterburger) airs on Monday, December 9th at 8pm on ABC.
- NBC airs It's a Wonderful Life only twice a season -- once on Christmas Eve, and one time in the weeks prior. This year, that will be on Saturday, December 14th, from 8pm until 5:30am, because that movie is LONG.
- The suuuuper underrated Mickey's Christmas Carol airs on ABC Family on Wednesday, December 18th at 7:30pm.
- The Year Without a Santa Claus airs on Monday, December 23rd at 7pm on ABC Family. This is another Rankin-Bass special, this one best known for the Heat Miser and Snow Miser.