Throughout my college years, whenever my friends and I would get together to celebrate Christmas festivities over hot cocoa and peppermint schnapps, talk would inevitably lead to our favorite holiday TV specials. We’d talk Rudolph and Frosty, A Charlie Brown Christmas and Santa Claus is Coming to Town.
But there’d be mutterings about yet another special, one for which we could only remember bits and pieces, because unlike Rudolph and the other standards, this one hadn’t aired in years. Bear in mind, this is before the Internet was widely available, which meant looking something up on IMDB and Amazon was impossible, what with neither of them existing. So the one bit of information – a song called “Heat Miser” sung by a flame-haired little man – was no help. We’d weep for the brilliant piece of children’s television that we’d never see again. True, our emotions were likely heightened by all of the schnapps. But still.
I never imagined these words would be typed by my fingers, but thank God for ABC Family, which has once again brought this long-lost holiday special – the Rankin Bass production of The Year Without a Santa Claus – back to the airwaves. It is our good fortune that in this age of 19,487 channels, most are desperate for programming. And the network’s "25 Days of Christmas” is running a ton of all-time favorites (as well as that horrible live-action Grinch movie and a rather disturbing Tom Arnold vehicle, but let’s not go there).
For the uninitiated, The Year Without a Santa Claus (or TYWASC, as its known in freaky fan circles) tells the tale of a year, long ago, when Santa – convinced no one cares about Christmas anymore (and in bed with what appears to be either the flu or menstrual cramps) – decides to cancel Christmas. Mrs. Claus, along with head elves Jingle and Jangle, hatches a scheme to change Santa’s mind, and as you might imagine, all hell breaks loose. In this scenario, hell includes baby reindeer Vixen being disguised as a dog (and humiliated) by having her antlers covered with Jangle's dirty socks, and then being abducted by the dog catcher in Southtown, USA. Trust me; it’s not any less confusing on the screen.