Being an official Old Fogey does not preclude me from also having a large measure of sentimentality when it comes to Things to Watch During the Christmas Season. Herewith is a short list of what I consider to be holiday essentials...
Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol - I very rarely run into anyone who remembers this TV classic. Actually, I very rarely run into ANYone. I'm fairly careful about that. One can't say the same about the majorly-myopic Mister Magoo, voiced by Thurston Howell the Third himself, Jim Backus. I'm especially fond of the duet that Magoo's Scrooge sings with his younger self when visiting Christmas Past: "So many grains of sand in the world. Why such a lonely beeeeeach?" Other highlights: The singing foursome of those who filched Scrooge's things after he died ("We're just, yada-da-daaa-da, all bad!"); "Razzleberry dressing;" the cast clapping with the closing song but putting more energy into pulling their hands apart than slapping them together.
Irving Berlin's White Christmas - A rousing romp of a showbiz movie having very little to do with Christmas, but featuring the practically non-existent waist of Vera Ellen. Seriously...the woman is a living Barbie doll. And she's got the massive poodle skirt to prove it. I particularly like the scene between Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye in their dressing room arguing over when Bing is going to stop pretending to look nonchalant about pulling his overly-long t-shirt down to cover his whitey-tighties. Other highlights: "Not so much as haaave an apple;" the disappearing pants legs in "Gee, I Wish I Were Back in the Army;" Bing Crosby actually cracking up at the end of their dressed-in-drag number, "Sisters."
Little House on the Prairie's Christmas Episode - We've got a VHS tape of the one where the Ingalls family is sitting in the little house remembering Christmases past. It is imperative that all of today's ankle-biters who can't imagine Christmas being worthwhile if they don't get the newest, hippest, shiniest, most Internet-compatible gizmo watch Half-Pint and siblings wet their bloomers when they get an orange. Match that with the youngest gal's look of utter joy when she stares at the star on their tree, and you've got yourself some Christmas magic.
A Charlie Brown Christmas - It had been several years since I watched this, so I tuned in the other night. I had never noticed before that there's a set of twins in the cast. You'll notice them dancing as mirrors of each other from across the stage when Charlie Brown is trying to get everyone to concentrate on the Christmas play. All almosting of truth aside, Linus' recitation of the Luke 2 Christmas account is worth the price of admission all by itself.
Rankin & Bass' Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - The clunky stop-motion animation, the mysterious shifting of the Bumble's fur, an elf that looks like Dennis the Menace's dad...this show has it all! Best of all is Burl Ives' singing snowman that is somehow bothered by cold weather...hmmmm.
Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life - Scene after scene, this is one of the most quotable, iconic motion pictures of all time. When Donna Reed welcomes Jimmy Stewart's George Bailey to their wedding night in an architectural sieve, her glowing face makes me forget I'm married. Other highlights: "This is an interesting situation;" "He's making violent love to me, Mother;" "You're nothing more than a measly little spider...and that goes for YOU, too!" "I was savin' this for my divorce...if'n I ever got me a husband." And yes, I still tear up every time the war-hero brother calls George the richest man in town.