How I watched Rudolph, Charlie Brown and Frosty shocked my kid

How I watched Rudolph, Charlie Brown and Frosty shocked my kid

This morning my tween and I talked about favorite Christmas shows. We agreed that Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is the best, closely followed by Frosty the Snowman for her and Charlie Brown for me. Not shocking, but what did completely surprise my tween was hearing how we used to watch such shows in the olden days.

The airing of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” or “Frosty the Snowman” was an event. You planned for it. You anticipated it. And when your show was on, you savored it. I remember hearing the music that announced that it was a “special presentation.” (I always thought CBS’s use of bongo drum-type music to announce a holiday special was not seasonally appropriate.) I remember running full speed to the family room, where the one television in the house was located, and snuggling up with my family.

My kid was shocked, SHOCKED, I tell you, to learn the following about how Rudolph, the Grinch, Frosty and Charlie Brown were viewed in the dark age (also known as the early 80s and before):

  • Back in the day, there were only 4 television stations: PBS, NBC, ABC, CBS. This may have been most shocking to my kid.  She said, “That’s it?!?!? You didn’t have, like, 2,000 channels?” I think she wanted to feel sorry for me but she was too busy being flabbergasted.
  • These special shows were available only on television. “What?!? No DVDs? No streaming Netflix?”
  • There was no DVD. I tried to explain VHS, that didn't go well.
  • That favorite Christmas specials were aired by only one network and only one time.  She asked, "No reruns???? Now they run the same show all the time!"  She was also shocked to know that I didn't find the latter to be progress;
  • There was no DVR. I opted not to remind her that we only got DVR 2 years ago;
  • There was nothing you could do if you had other plans or if you television was not working when your favorite Christmas special aired. I tried to explain that it made them special.  My girl responded with, “But you still love those shows, and I like them too, so it must be more than that that makes them special.” She’s very right.

Many of the classic tv specials and movies like "Miracle on 34th Street" and "The Polar Express" are on ABC Family (one of the bazillion channels that did not exist when I was a kid) this month, and you can download their schedule here. Happy viewing!

What’s your favorite Christmas special? Do you enjoy watching with your kids now, or does having Rudolph on repeat ruin it for you?

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