12 Days of Christmas (Specials) Day 1-“Abeds Uncontrollable Christmas” from Community Season 2

I saved this particular episode for last because-even though none of these entries were in any specific order, this one is my favorite.

While Greendale celebrates its watered down and politically correct version of “Christmas”, for reasons unknown to the group Abed suffers from some sort of mental breakdown that causes him to perceive everyone and everything around him as stop motion animated “puppets”. Worried for his mental health, Britta recruits Professor Duncan (John Oliver) to use his psychology methods to help him snap out of it before he gets kicked out of school. Duncan agrees to conduct a group therapy session disguised as a Christmas wizard-with the intention of publishing Abeds case to further his career. 

Abeds imagination takes the group on a magical and musical adventure to Planet Abed, where Christmas is paramount and the air is made of 7% cinnamon. Most of the group plays along while Duncan tries to lure Abed into a trap where he can confront the reasons for his breakdown. As the situation becomes more and more heartbreaking and transparent, his friends begin to see that this coping mechanism needs their support. Together, they turn on Duncan and help Abed confront his pain through song.

This episode is the epitome of Christmas in my eyes. It is whimsical and festive, but with an underlying and sobering sadness that is the reality of Christmas for so many people. The changing of times, the loss of old traditions and the need to adapt to new life situations are so common during the holidays. We often forget about the sad side of Christmas, but this episode shows us that change can be positive.

That last song makes me cry, everytime. Merry happy to everyone!

12 Days of Christmas (Specials)-Day 2-“Anatomy Park” from Rick and Morty Season 1

Jerry is in full Christmas mode and very upset with his families lack of excitement and interaction. While he makes supper and prepares for his parents arrival, he is angry to find that Beth, Morty and Summer are all sitting around on their phones and tablets-so he takes them away. Things start to get even more uncomfortable as his guests arrive-Rick, who brings a homeless man in a Santa suit named Ruben, and Jerrys parents-who bring a strange young man named Jacob and a worldly new philosophical outlook on life. 

Rick steals Morty away from dinner, shrinks him and injects him into the body of the homeless Santa in order to help save his life. When he arrives, he finds that he is in an amusement park called “Anatomy Park” which houses several deadly viruses on display. When Ruben dies from all of the viruses and bacteria in his body and a park employee is exposed as a traitor Morty must escape from the rampant diseases with the parks employees- including Dr. Xenon Bloom (John Oliver) and a cute girl named Annie. Rick steps in and takes the body into space. Things get weird.

Back at the dinner table the family discovers that the mysterious and charismatic Jacob is in fact the lover of Jerrys mother and that his parents are on a sexual spiritual journey with him. Beth is inspired by their willingness to live life to the fullest, while Jerry sees the situation for how awkward it truly is. Things get weird.

Christmas is saved when Jerry gives everyone back their electronic devices to calm them down and Rick brings Morty back to earth in one piece.

 

12 Days of Christmas (Specials)-Day 3-“XMas Story” from Futurama Season 2

I honestly don’t watch a whole lot of Futurama. It just isn’t up there for me. However, I always seem to remember this particular episode and its repetitive use of the word “XMas”.

Fry longs for the traditional Christmas that he used to have in the 20th century, so his friends decide to help him celebrate ‘XMas’-the modern interpretation of the holiday. Advancements in robotics have produced a mechanical Santa that performs the duties of the traditional Santa Claus, including figuring out who is naughty and who is nice. Unfortunately, a glitch in his programming caused him to become a gun wielding psychopath who murders (who he interprets to be) the “naughty” after sundown.

Fry realizes that Leela has only sad memories of the Christmas and sets out to find her a great gift. After buying her a parrot, she soon shows up to rescue him from the homicidal Santa. Bender and his robot friends offer shelter, but before long Santa finds his way in and has to be thwarted by Dr Zoidberg.

He promises to exact his revenge.

Does he exact his revenge? Maybe I need to keep watching the show…

12 Days of Christmas (Specials)-Day 4-“Snowflake Day” from Clone High

I absolutely, truly, genuinely,sincerely and undeniably love Clone High. I miss it so. I watched this show over and over and over again in my teens-as a part of the killer ‘Teletoon at night’ lineup including Undergrads, Mission Hill and the Oblongs. It consumed every night of my life for a few hours.

In very much the same way that fans grieve and pine for the one season wonder that was ‘Firefly’, I too find myself mourning the loss of Clone High (and the Undergrads…what the hell!?). It was brilliant, stupid and ridiculous-but the talent involved in creating and executing it was top notch.

Their one and only holiday themed episode takes place on what they call “Snowflake Day”-a strange Christmas-like holiday that involved traditional spices and meats. Joan of Arc is sick of the materialistic holiday and her oblivious family, so she retreats to the outside world. While near a dumpster she encounters a sexy homeless woman who looks alot like Mandy Moore (voiced by Mandy Moore). She tries to use her magical powers to help Joan see the meaning of Snowflake Day.

Meanwhile, Cleopatra tells Abe that she wants an expensive present. This convinces both Abe and Gandhi to get a job, where they get the inspiration to invent a new utensil called “the knork”. Oh, and JFK records a Snowflake Day album.

In true Clone High fashion, we end up learning absolutely nothing-except that if you see a sexy homeless person that looks like a celebrity, they are not homeless and cannot be trusted.

12 Days of Christmas (Specials)-Day 5-“Holidays of Future Passed” from The Simpsons Season 23

There are many fantastic Christmas specials from the shows 27 year run, but this recent episode from season 23 is one of my favorites.

We see a glimpse into the future of the Simpson family and their now extended family. In the year 2041 Lisa and Milhouse are married with a bratty teenage daughter name Zia, Bart is a divorced father of two sharp young boys and Maggie is a rock star who is about to pop. Homer and Marge have the family over for Christmas dinner and drama ensues.

Bart is currently at an all time low, living at Springfield Elementary under Seymour-who is now his landlord. His boys arrive for Christmas and bring complaints and the heartbreaking news that their mother has remarried. Lisa is fed up with her disrespectful, cyber addicted daughter and desperate to communicate with her while Marge tries to criticize her parenting style. Both feeling frustrated, Bart and Lisa bond over their family issues.

Homer decided to have a day out with his two grandsons, so he takes them to a some of Springfields famous spots-like the Kwik E Mart- and to a bizarre cryogenic freezing cemetery to see their great grandpa Abe. After seeing how hurtful and inconsiderate he can be, Homer explains to them that even though a father isn’t perfect, it doesn’t mean that you won’t miss them someday.

After a weird Mad Max-meets-Matrix-esque storyline transports Lisa inside of the internet to talk to her daughter, and a revelation brings Bart to apologize to his kids, all of the families issues are resolved by the episodes end. 

This episode speaks to me as one of the more relatable. Marriage issues, parenting issues, personal issues and professional issues are all forms of baggage that people carry around with them-even in such a joyful time as Christmas. A group of people come together and either wallow in their miseries or they forget all about them for a few hours. Sometimes your family is worth giving up a little bit of pride if it will keep them close. Family is-at the best of times-what Christmas is all about.

12 Days of Christmas (Specials) Day 6-“An Eric Forman Christmas” from That 70s Show Season 4

There is a lack of Christmas spirit among Erics friends and family. Eric and Hyde complain that the season isn’t exciting now that they are adults, to which Kitty responds by guilting them into organizing the church Christmas pageant. His friends agree to participate-all the while complaining and trying to manipulate their characters into something more interesting-like spacemen and a unicorn riding Virgin Mary. Red is fed up with Bobs obnoxious and loud decorative display and steals his decorations in the night and tries to lie about it. Jackie berates Michael into growing out of his whimsical love for Christmas specials.

Eric becomes frustrated with his friends and families constant bickering and quits the production. Kitty, sick of Reds negativity and Grinch-like behavior, convinces him to change his tune in the name of Christmas.

By the end, everyone sees the error of their ways and comes together to bring Eric back to the play and back into the holiday spirit. Red forms a truce with Bob and puts up his own festive display to impress Kitty, and Kelso realizes that he can keep his love of Christmas for as long as he wants.

We learn that Christmas can be extravagant and loud, but it is all about tradition and being together.

12 Days of Christmas (Specials)-Day 7-“The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis” from The Big Bang Theory Season 2

After a few seasons I stopped watching Big Bang Theory as the characters became less nerdy and awkward and the relationship angle began to take over. I also had to distance myself once every adult female in my life started telling my boyfriend and I that we were “just like Big Bang!”.

Ugh.

Well before I strayed, I was in love with the Christmas episode from their second season. Sheldon is frustrated when Penny brings him a Christmas gift because-as he says-“The foundation of gift giving is reciprocity. You’re not giving me a gift, you’re giving me an obligation!”. His friends take him to (I think) Bath and Body Works to get an appropriately priced and sized present for her. He decides to purchase several baskets, so that when he opens Pennys gift he can determine how much to give her in return.

She ends up giving him a gift so incredible that he gives her all of the baskets, plus a very rare bonus gift-an emotional hug from Sheldon.

I think about this episode quite often while doing my own shopping, as I attach too much importance to the quantitity of gifts, the price etc etc and let that guide my gift giving. The most amazing gifts aren’t expensive or large, but they are thoughtful and personal-especially between friends.

12 Days of Christmas (Specials) Day 8 – “Citizen Knope” from Parks and Recreation Season 4

Leslie is on suspension, and in her absence her colleagues try to plan a perfect Christmas gift for her-since she is notorious for being a flawless and very thoughtful gift giver.

They decide that they will work together to build a gingerbread model of the Parks department offices because Leslie loves her job so dearly. Complete with candy versions of themselves, they work tirelessly to make a special gift for Leslie.

While Leslie unofficially works on a Parks committee and Ben tries to move forward in his life with a new job, Leslie is given the bad news that her city council campaign managers have given up on her. Fortunately, her friends and colleagues end up giving her the best gift of all-their support.

This show never fails to tug at the heartstrings of its viewers (I know that I’m not alone) and this episode is a perfect example of how insightful and touching it can truly be. Christmas or not, it teaches us that there will always be another door for you to go through, and that the support of your friends and family is a beautiful gift.

12 Days of Christmas (Specials)Day 9-“A Christmas Special” from 30 Rock Season 3

In the sixth episode of its third season, Jack accidentally hits his cantankerous mother with his car, forcing him to care for her over the Christmas season. Wrapped up in his frustration towards her-and looking for a way out of the house- he springs a last minute idea onto the writing staff of ‘The Tracy Jordan Show’ that he would like to put on an extravagant Christmas special on Christmas eve.

Meanwhile, Liz obsesses over a project to reply to letters from Santa and fulfill less fortunate childrens wishes after her own family cancels their normal holiday plans. She buys an abundance of toys, but when she drops them off at the house she is greeted by two adult men and no children. Convinced that she was scammed, she recruits Tracy and optimistic Kenneth to help her get to the bottom of it.

He spends the entirety of the production fighting with his mother, Colleen, and obsessing over his childhood Christmas’ without his father in the picture. As he attempts to tailor the special episode of the show towards Mrs Claus as the main character, Liz makes him realize that his mother (who dressed up as Mrs Claus when he was a child) actually made his Christmas’ exceptionally special, even though he couldn’t see it at the time.

Uncharacteristically sentimental, this episode is a reminder that things aren’t always what they seem and that sometimes putting your faith in others will pay off.

12 Days of Christmas (Specials) Day 10-‘The Christmas Party’ from The Office Season 2

I find myself thinking about this episode of The Office on a yearly basis, as we participate in a more civilized version of Michael’s “Yankee Swap” at our family gatherings. I still have no clue as to what its true name is, but my thoughts always drift to it when it becomes abundantly clear that nobody else in the room spent anything close to the $20 limit-or if they did, they didn’t shop wisely.

In “The Christmas Party” the Scranton office of Dunder Mifflin organizes a small office party with a Secret Santa gift exchange. After Michael receives a huge bonus from Corporate he uses it to plan a more extravagant party, and to buy a $400 IPod for his Secret Santa Recipient instead of sticking to the $20 limit that everyone else had followed. When Michael receives a handmade gift from Phyllis, he throws a tantrum that results in his decision to initiate “Yankee Swap”.

Jim is especially annoyed with this decision when the gift that he bought to score brownie points with Pam is passed over to someone else. As the wildly specific gifts underwhelm, Michael is oblivious that the circulation of the IPod is causing further tension between everyone. Once the truth about Michaels bonus check gets out, he tries to make amends by getting everybody drunk.

This episode is not especially festive, but it does capture the materialistic side to Christmas while reminding us that a personal and thoughtful gift is often priceless. The most important lesson-and the only one that Michael learns-is that alcohol is great for getting through a rough party.