Let me say right off the bat that I love Christmas specials. From Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to A He-Man and She-Ra Christmas, I watch them all as time permits. And each special manages to attempt to insert a message of holiday cheer along the way. However, upon further inspection, some of the lessons that can be garnered from these bits of entertainment might not be what the creators initially intended. While I love the following holiday specials, some of the messages found in each one might be less-than-cheerful.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
Lesson: Be deplorable to charitable people and whatever you did can be wiped away with a half-assed apology.
You all know the story of the Grinch, based on Dr. Seuss’ book How the Grinch Stole Christmas! For those of you who don’t, here’s the Cliffs Notes version: Cranky green bastard known as the Grinch lives on a mountaintop with his put-upon puppy. Said cranky bastard is irked that the Whos, the townsfolk who live at the base of the mountain in the town of Whoville, are so effing happy during Christmastime, playing with their noise-making toys and singing their carols that cut through the Grinch like glass. The Grinch decides to steal Christmas from these merry assholes, dressing like some shattered mirror version of Santa and raiding the villagers of not only their holiday trappings, but their food, furniture, and any other thing he can get his claws on. When the Whos still celebrate Christmas despite being Ocean 11’d by the Grinch, the sour ass’s heart swells and he learns the holidays are about more than presents and all that jazz. As such, the Grinch decides to give the citizens of Whoville their stuff back. Instead of being hauled off to jail for robbery, he’s greeted as a king among Whos and is invited to their Christmas dinner.
So, okay, I know, the story is about forgiveness and joy and whatever, but here’s the thing right up front: The Whos are suckers. Yes, I know, it wouldn’t be much of a Christmas story if they called the law on the Grinch or beat him to death with sacks filled with cans of Who hash. However, sure, the Grinch may have learned a lesson now, but who is to say he won’t pull this nonsense again when he gets irked that something else in life isn’t going his way? And not only do they forgive the Grinch, but the Whos invite him for Christmas dinner?
Maybe I’m not the most charitable person, but that’s a bit much. At best, I’d be like, “Pretty shitty that you stole our stuff, but we will let it slide this time. But keep your ass off our property, or we’ll put your head on a Who pike.” And they greet the Grinch like a liberator in England during World War II when he gives them back their belongings. Um, Whos, that’s your stuff he’s bequeathing back to you. Stuff that you bought with your own Who money from working in the Who mines. Billy, your dad got Who black lung just so you could eat roast beast for Christmas. The Grinch did jack-all squat, except to show you that hateful shut-ins ruin holiday gatherings.
And speaking of the Grinch, what kind of sadist is this guy? Okay, the noise the Whos were making was an annoyance. I get that. But the sane thing to do would be to trudge down to the bottom of the mountain, talk to the Head Who in Charge, and say, “Look, I know you’re celebrating Christmas, and I get that. But you know how these mountains bounce around sound. If you don’t mind, could you keep the noise down just a smidge? I’d appreciate it. Thanks and happy Festivus.”
Instead, his reaction? Break into each of the Whos’ houses, pilfer their stuff, and be on his merry way. And it’s not like he just stole the Christmas-related possessions. He took the furniture, the ice cubes, the food. Was he trying to starve the Whos to death? Drive them into destitution? And then after he returns their items to the Whos, the Grinch is invited into the very homes he burgled the night before? Some folks get all the Get Out of Life Free Cards.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Lesson: Your peers don’t care about you.
In this perennial Christmas special, Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang star in this rousing tale of commercialization, half-hearted friendships, and keeping your head out of the oven during the holiday season. Charlie Brown becomes despondent at how Christmas has become more about gifts and less about heart so, upon taking Lucy’s advice, takes on the role of director of the Christmas pageant. The gang gives Charlie all the respect you’d expect from friends who constantly call him a blockhead and he can’t keep the kids under control to get the play moving forward. To set the mood of the pageant and get everyone in the holiday spirit, Charlie sets off to acquire a Christmas tree. Instead of buying a big aluminum tree like Lucy suggests, he picks out a pitiful spruce that he feels needs some love. Lucy and the gang mock him for his choice and Charlie, at the end of his rope, pleads to the heavens for someone to tell him what Christmas is all about. His buddy Linus recites the Nativity story from Luke, but Charlie is still sad. The Peanuts gang decide to put aside their dickery, fix up the pitiful spruce, and start singing at Charlie. Bam.
Alright, first off: Lucy, you know you’re setting up Charlie for failure by suggesting he direct the Christmas pageant. You are well aware how little the Peanuts kids respect Charlie and how unlikely he’ll be to corral those horses’ asses. Hell, you’re the one who keeps pulling the football away from Chuck every time he tries to kick it. I feel like Santa is going to going to the reindeer stables for your Christmas gift this year.
And you, Linus: Look, I’m sure you’ve heard Charlie prattle on about how depressed he can get, but give the guy a break. You know how little value his peers give him. You know this. And instead of just saying “I understand” when he opens up his fears and worries about Christmas, you mock him for just acting like “typical Charlie Brown”? Dude, even if you think Charlie is whining, keep your mouth shut. He’s obviously sad. Nod and go on. You’re his buddy. True, all friends need tough love now and again, but you’re a bright kid, Linus. You know the holidays play Hell on some folks’ emotional states. Give him an ear and leave Charlie be.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Lesson: Folks accept you to the extent of what you can do for them.
Ah, Rudolph. This Rankin/Bass production is all about ostracism and acceptance. The Christmas song about the red-nosed wonder has most of the details, but let me fill in the rest for the uninitiated: Donner of Santa’s eight, sleigh-pulling reindeer, and his wife have a son, whom they name Rudolph. Turns out Rudolph is born with a glowing red nose, which, weirdly, isn’t the mark of the beast, but is considered awful-sauce. Donner is fearful of what the other reindeer will say about his mutant son, so he covers the nose so Rudolph can blend in with normal society. When his secret is revealed, all the other reindeer mock him and his budding romance with reindeer Clarice is forbidden by her father. Rudolph and fellow outcast Hermey, an elf who aspires to be a dentist, leave Christmastown to blaze their own trail. Rudolph eventually goes home, as he learns you can’t run from your problems, just in time for Santa’s Christmas Eve flight. Santa asks Rudolph to use his glowing nose to light the way through a treacherous winter storm. Rudolph is loved for his usefulness and everything is holly-jolly at the North Pole once again.
Let’s get this out of the way: Almost everyone in this warped morality play is a piece of garbage: Rudolph’s reindeer peers, Donner, Santa. Donner, from the moment of Rudolph’s birth, tries to hide what he considers Rudolph’s shame. Good lesson right there: Conformity is key to happiness. Hide who you are at all costs. The case could be made that Donner wanted to spare Rudolph from pain and ridicule from others, but I say nay. Donner clearly acts ashamed of Rudolph’s nose, so I think Donner was more concerned with how the glowing schnozz would reflect on him. Wonderful parenting skills exhibited there, Donner. I hope you end up as venison on Santa’s dinner plate.
And speaking of Santa, what a hateful piss ant he is in this tale. He seems unimpressed with Rudolph’s nose and encourages Donner to keep that shit under wraps. He goes on to say that Rudolph won’t be considered for the flight team if he can’t manage his glowing problem. He only seems to accept Rudolph when he needs him to pull the sled for the Christmas flight. Take note, the special seems to say: Nobody loves you unless you have some intrinsic value and can be used somehow. Seriously, what a dick.
And on that cheerful note (seriously, I just called Santa Claus a dick), I extend my sincere love and gratitude toward each one of you readers. Thanks for making this an awesome year.