Ten Classic TV Holiday Episodes You Shouldn’t Miss This Christmas
2016 has gone out of its way to ruin everything for us. Thankfully, we’ve got a ton of holiday fun coming up over the next month and several channels are bringing some holiday classics back for the nostalgia we all kind of need right now.
Here’s my list of the 10 classic TV holiday episodes I recommend the most. Many of these are available in part, or complete, with the links below.
Ricky and David Nelson run into problems while deciding to sell Christmas trees in order to buy a gift for their father, Ozzie. I include this episode because it’s one of the first Christmas episodes of any television series. The dry humor of the family may be lost on people who aren’t aware of the series, but for fans, this is one of the coolest old episodes of any series. Ricky and David are older in this one and Ricky was on his way to becoming a great early rock star and teen phenom.
Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage) is in love with Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar). Every boy in 1988 was. The difference is, Kevin Arnold had to buy her a Christmas gift … for six bucks. The Arnold family also comes to grips with the onset of color television on Christmas of 1968. Wayne Arnold was, of course, a butt-head.
Ben Seaver (Jeremy Miller) brings a homeless girl home on Christmas Eve and the family’s plans change as they end up trying to help the girl escape from a life on the street. Mr. Seaver (Alan Thicke) uses his fatherly skills to bring peace on Christmas morning.
Rick Stratton (Ricky Schroder) and his father Edward Stratton III (Joel Higgins) are preparing for the best Christmas they could imagine, all while living in the coolest house in sitcom history. A young homeless family seeks shelter in a nearby cave. (Not realistic, but heart wrenching nonetheless.)
Joey Thompson (Joey Lawrence) plays the cute kid who sneaks into the Stratton home to sneak some food to feed his family for Christmas. Ricky finds Joey and insists on playing Santa for the family. Edward joins in and the Stratton family ends up giving their own Christmas gifts to the Thompson family, along with hiring Joey’s father at the Stratton Toy Company.
Henry Winkler (Fonzie) takes centerstage in this special episode in which he explains to Al how the Cunningham family and he spent Christmas together. Fonzie’s family isn’t present for him at Christmastime, so the Cunningham family, without making it into an uncomfortable situation, open their doors to him and welcome him to their family celebration. The episode ends with Fonzie being asked to say the blessing over the Cunningham Christmas dinner, truly showing he was now a part of the family.
This episode could’ve just as easily been entitled “Festivus.” George’s loudmouthed father sets aside December 23rd as an anti-holiday celebration to show his ill will toward the rest of the world, all merry and bright.
The Feats of Strength, the Airing of Grievances, and wrestling seems to be what most families are thinking around December 26th, right after spending just a little too much time with family.
While Monica (Roma Downey) and Tess (Della Reese) are on their mission to help a small church put on a Christmas pageant, they get more than they bargained for with an angry organist and a talentless choir. They befriend a young man with a difficulty in understanding the world around him, Joey, who fears the dark after the loss of his parents from a car accident that took place at night. Joey’s brother Wayne (Randy Travis) is bitter over his personal misfortune and tired of Joey always screwing things up. When Joey’s little friend Selena dies from a rare disease, Monica has to convince Wayne to realize that Joey needs him and — more importantly — Wayne needs Joey. The finale of this episode is one of the biggest tearjerkers of all time and gives me chills with every viewing!
3. M*A*S*H* (1980) “Death Takes a Holiday”
While Father Mulcahy prepares a traditional Christmas party and meal for the orphaned children near the 4077, Major Winchester has been quietly setting aside expensive chocolates to give anonymously. Winchester’s gift turns out to be more of a luxury than a staple, causing the major to find that the gift is quite often more than the thought that counts. Cpl. Klinger happens to find out all the happenings behind the scene and is amazed at the kindness his fellow soldiers are showing, without any expectation of praise or thanks. The positives are great, but the pain is also deep in this episode.
There’s also an incredible storyline involving a soldier who is mortally wounded, dying on Christmas Day. The doctors are doing everything in their power to keep him alive through the night so his family doesn’t have to be told their soldier died on the holiday.
Charles Ingalls (Michael Landon) and Laura Ingalls (Melissa Gilbert) are experiencing the problem people have had for years — providing the perfect gift for their family without having the money. Laura ends up giving her very best to give her mother the perfect gift. The entire family learns the true meaning of Christmas, and little Carrie gives her Christmas penny to buy a present for the Baby Jesus.
Jonathan Smith (Michael Landon) and Mark (Victor French) are on a mission to change the world one soul at a time. Their assignment in this episode is a newspaper columnist named Jeb (Richard Mulligan from “Empty Nest”). Jeb is recently divorced and has become cynical, sad and can’t seem to get in the Christmas spirit.
Jonathan and Mark take Jeb on a journey as they help a modern-day Joseph and Mary (who are expecting a child) to find shelter as they find themselves homeless and hungry, needing a hospital. On their way, they help a cab driver find his missing son, a senator and his wife find love and a group of men find a purpose in life they never expected to find. Jeb gets his Christmas story, Jonathan and Mark show that an angel and a group of wise men can really make a difference.