Winter Holiday/Christmas programming has become a month-long proposition, kicking in right after Thanksgiving. ABC Family (“25 Days of Christmas“), Lifetime, Hallmark, TV Land (see Sunday, the 11th) and Cartoon Network are especially milking the season of Good Cheer for all its worth.
The following is an attempt at something approaching a comprehensive holiday programming schedule for the week – I’ll endeavor to fill in more details as we ho-ho-ho along:
Saturday, Dec. 3
9 a.m. (Hallmark) One Christmas.
11 a.m. (Hallmark) One Magic Christmas.
Noon (ABC Family) Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July. (1979) Jules Bass/Arthur Rankin Jr. team up Frosty and Rudolph. Voices of Red Buttons, Ethel Merman. Animated.
2 p.m. (ABC Family) The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus. (1985) To be granted immortality, Santa Claus must justify it. Based on a novel by L. Frank Baum.
3 p.m. (ABC Family) The Story of the First Christmas Snow. (1975) Story of the young shepherd Lucas.
(CMT) 20 Merriest Christmas Videos.
3:30 p.m. (ABC Family) Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey. ABC Family
4 p.m. (ABC Family) Pinocchio’s Christmas. The true meaning of Christmas shines through for Pinocchio when he tries to earn money for Gepetto’s gift.
5 p.m. (ABC Family) Jack Frost. (1979) Jack strikes a deal with Father Winter that if he defeats a villainous giant, he will become visible to the beautiful and human Elisa, he also helps a couple find true love – rather convoluted.
6 p.m. (i/PAX) Mary Christmas.
(ABC Family) Frosty’s Winter Wonderland.
6:30 p.m. (ABC Family) ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. Mice, clockmaker, Christmas imperiled by despondent Santa Claus, once again. Dude should consider anti-despressants.
7 p.m. (ABC Family) Rudolph’s Shiny New Year. Not an A-lister.
7:30 p.m. (CMT) Christmas Comes to Willow Creek (1987, drama). John Schneider, Tom Wopat. Feuding brothers join forces to transport Christmas gifts to a bedridden friend’s Alaskan hometown. CMT
8 p.m. (ABC Family) Santa Claus Is Coming to Town. The classic and imaginative “explanation” of the Santa Claus traditions with Mickey Rooney as the renegade toy-pusher and Fred Astaire as suave narrator.
9 p.m. (ABC Family) A Very Barry Christmas. Australian Outback gamekeeper Barry Buckley and Santa unwittingly trade lives in a Christmas mix-up.
10 p.m. (ABC Family) The Year Without a Santa Claus. Shirley Booth sings and narrates as Mrs. Claus with Mickey Rooney as lethargic and disspirited Santa Claus – vaudevillian Heat- and Snow-Miser songs are vicious ear worms.
11 p.m. (ABC Family) The Little Drummer Boy. (1968) An orphaned drummer boy meets three wise men on their way to Bethlehem – intense and powerful with melifluous narration by Greer Garson and sublime music by Vienna Choir Boys.
11:30 p.m.: (ABC Family) Little Drummer Boy: Book II. An orphaned drummer boy helps a man who has created silver bells to herald the birth of Jesus.
12:30 a.m. (WGN) Soul Train Christmas Starfest. Classic and contemporary holiday songs performed by Brian McKnight, Toni Braxton, Michael McDonald, Lou Rawls, James Ingram, Chante Moore, Kenny Lattimore and Kelly Rowland.
Sunday, Dec. 4
Noon (ABC Family) Santa and Pete (1999, drama). Hume Cronyn, James Earl Jones. Santa Claus’ little-credited partner, a black Moor named Peter, helps save Christmas. Based on a Dutch fable.
1 p.m. (Hallmark) The Angel of Pennsylvania Avenue (1996, drama). Diana Scarwid, Robert Urich. Three Depression-era kids ask President Hoover to free their unjustly jailed father for Christmas.
2 p.m. (ABC Family) The Christmas List (1997, drama). Mimi Rogers, Bill Switzer. A store clerk learns a valuable lesson about the true meaning of Christmas when she gets everything on her wish list. ABC Family
3 p.m. (Hallmark) Unlikely Angel (1996, drama). Stars Dolly Parton and Roddy McDowall. When brassy lounge singer Ruby Diamond dies in an accident, she meets St. Peter at the Pearly Gates. Peter wants to send Ruby back because she hasn’t earned her “wings.” He notes that Ruby has only looked out for herself all her life and he assigns her to help out a family in distress. Peter gives Ruby until Christmas to set things right.
(CMT) Christmas Comes to Willow Creek.
4 p.m. (ABC Family) Three Days (2001, fantasy). Kristin Davis, Reed Diamond. During the holiday season, a man is given the chance to relive the days leading up to his wife’s death. ABC Family
5 p.m. (Hallmark) Angel in the Family (2004, drama). Ronny Cox, Tracey Needham. An ailing man and his daughters experience a miracle when their late matriarch returns to spend Christmas with them.
5:30 p.m. (CMT) 20 Merriest Christmas Videos. CMT
6 p.m. (ABC Family) Snow (2004, comedy-drama). Tom Cavanagh, Ashley Williams. A North Pole-based toy distributor must go to California to rescue one of his family’s magical reindeer from a zoo.
6:15 p.m. (AMC) “A Christmas Carol.” (1951) Alastair Sim, Kathleen Harrison. Dickens’ London miser Ebenezer Scrooge meets the ghosts of Christmases past, present and yet to come – classic version.
7 p.m. (Hallmark) The Night They Saved Christmas. Stars Jaclyn Smith and Art Carney. It’s a week before Christmas in a coal mining community 200 miles south of the North Pole. Michael Baldwin, the world-famous mineral expert, is supervising oil exploration for IRC, one of the world’s largest oil firms. Once again, Michael has uprooted his family and his wife, Claudia, swears this is the last time she will allow their children to be disattached from a stable life in Los Angeles. She is taking the kids home right after Christmas, with or without Michael
8 p.m. (AMC) “Holiday Inn.” Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire star as two showmen whose New England country inn, open only on national holidays, becomes a success. Irving Berlin’s classic tune “White Christmas” was introduced in the 1942 film.
8 p.m. (ABC Family) Chasing Christmas (2005, drama). Tom Arnold, Leslie Jordan. Premiere. Ever since his ex-wife broke his heart during the holidays, Jack Cameron (Tom Arnold) has put Christmas on ice, much to the dismay of his daughter (Brittney Wilson) and everyone else within caroling distance. Can the Ghosts of Christmas Past (Leslie Jordan) and Christmas Present (Andrea Roth) change this modern-day Scrooge’s unmerry ways?
9 p.m. (i/PAX) A Night of Joy. Performers include Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman, CeCe Winans, Jars of Clay, Jump 5, Jaci Velasquez and Rebecca St. James. From Walt Disney World.
(Hallmark) A Season for Miracles. When a young woman’s niece and nephew are threatened with foster care she flees with them until they land in the sleepy town of Bethlehem giving the trio a chance a happiness.
10 p.m. (ABC Family) Chasing Christmas.
10:15 p.m. (AMC) Entertainment Weekly’s Best Holiday Movies. French Stewart hosts this rundown of yuletide movie favorites.
11 p.m. (Hallmark) The Angel of Pennsylvania Avenue. Stars Robert Urich, and Diana Scarwid. When an unemployed Detroit man is arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, his three children are determined to get him out of jail in time for Christmas by enlisting the help of “the most powerful man in the world,” President Hoover.
11:15 p.m. (AMC) A Christmas Carol.
1:00 a.m. (Hallmark) Silent Night. Based on a true story. In 1944, as American soldiers are making their way through Europe, a platoon find themselves lost behind enemy lines. On Christmas Eve, with little hope remaining in their hearts, they discover a refuge, a small cabin inhabited by a German woman and her young son. When instructed to leave their weapons outside, the soldiers reluctantly agree and the woman begins to help nurse the injured. Ironically, German soldiers also find the cabin and are instructed to leave their weapons outside as well. With the help of the German woman, the two adversaries put their differences aside, as the spirit of Christmas brings them together in a way never thought possible. Stars Linda Hamilton.
Monday, Dec. 5
11 a.m. (Disney) My Little Pony: A Very Minty Christmas (2005, fantasy). Animated.
4 p.m. (Lifetime) A Christmas Romance.
7 p.m. (Lifetime) On the 2nd Day of Christmas (1997, comedy-drama). Mary Stuart Masterson, Lauren Pratt. A woman and her niece are caught picking pockets in a department store on Christmas Eve.
(ABC Family) Jack Frost.
7:30 p.m. (TOON) Krypto the Superdog. Kevin and Krypto visit Storybook Land.
8 p.m. (Disney) Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas (2004, fantasy). Voices of Wayne Allwine, Tony Anselmo. Animated. Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and friends.
(TOON) The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy. Animated. Billy and Mandy save Christmas.
8:30 p.m. (Nickelodeon) The Fairly OddParents/”Christmas Every Day.” The globe is put into gridlock after Timmy wishes for 365 days of Christmas a year. Santa’s overworked, Mom and Dad can’t work and the other holidays are furious that jolly old Saint Nick is getting all the attention, not to mention all the holiday magic. The other holidays set out to take Santa down for good. Since Wanda and Cosmo are magically depleted during this Season, Timmy must go it alone to the North Pole in order to save Santa and put the calendar back on schedule. (Repeats 12-17, 21, 25, 27)
9 p.m. (Lifetime) Recipe for a Perfect Christmas (2005, romance-comedy). Bobby Cannavale, Christine Baranski and Carly Pope star in a romantic comedy about a fledgling food critic whose scheme involving her mom and a restaurant owner doesn’t go according to plan.
(Hallmark) A Christmas Visitor (2002, drama). William Devane, Meredith Baxter. A family grieves over a son’s death in the Gulf War, but a family meets a stranger who rekindles the holiday spirit.
Tuesday, Dec. 6
4 p.m. (AMC) A Christmas Carol. AMC
(Lifetime) Comfort and Joy.
5:45 p.m. (AMC) Holiday Inn.
6 p.m. (TOON) Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends: A Lost Claus. Animated. Mac and Bloo doubt the existence of Santa.
7 p.m. (ABC Family) Frosty’s Winter Wonderland.
7:30 p.m. (ABC Family) ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.
8 p.m. (ABC) A Charlie Brown Christmas. Good grief, it’s the 40th anniversary telecast of the Charles M. Schulz “Peanuts” classic that the network originally thought too slow and religious, which was kind of the point. Naturally, it was a smash hit and has remained the most fresh and affecting of the animated Christmas shows. And the classic Vince Guaraldi music doesn’t hurt either – digitally remastered.
(ABC Family) Chasing Christmas.
8:30 p.m. (Nickelodeon) Danny Phantom/”The Fright before Christmas.” Premiere – when Danny Fenton accidentally destroys the only copy of a ghostly Christmas story, the book’s author, Ghost Writer (guest voice Brendan Fraisier), casts him as the main character of a new Yuletide tale and pins the blame on him when a series of catastrophes threaten to ruin Christmas for all of Amity Park. When Danny goes into the Ghost Zone to confront Ghost Writer, he is surprised to find his old ghostly enemies in a giving mood. Danny enlists them to help him defeat Ghost Writer and restore the spirit of Christmas to Amity Park and, perhaps, to his own heart. (Repeats 12-17, 19, 25)
9 p.m. (NBC) My Name Is Earl. Earl (Jason Lee) wants to give his ex-wife a new car for Christmas.
(Lifetime) Like Father, Like Santa (1998, comedy). Harry Hamlin, Megan Gallagher. An unscrupulous businessman — Santa Claus’ estranged son — must prevent Christmas from being ruined.
(Hallmark) One Christmas.
9:30 p.m. (NBC) The Office. The office Christmas party.
10:45 p.m. (AMC) A Christmas Carol.
Wednesday, Dec. 7
1:45 p.m. (AMC) Holiday Inn.
4 p.m. (Lifetime) Like Father, Like Santa.
6 p.m. (CMT) 20 Merriest Christmas Videos.
7 p.m. (ABC Family) The Year Without a Santa Claus.
7:30 p.m. (TOON) Johnny Bravo Christmas. Johnny delivers his wish list to Santa.
8 p.m. (TOON) The Night B4 Christmas. An elf becomes a rock star.
(HGTV) The White House Christmas 2005. The special, with host Gail O’Neill, takes viewers into the holiday planning process for the White House and includes first lady Laura Bush’s discussion of her choice for this year’s theme.
(ABC Family) Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.
8:30 (Nickelodeon) SpongeBob SquarePants/”Patchy the Pirate Presents the SpongeBob SquarePants Christmas Special” — Nobody in Bikini Bottom has heard of Christmas or Santa Claus until Sandy lets them in on this surface tradition. SpongeBob wants to bring Christmas to Bikini Bottom this year and his enthusiasm is infectious. Everyone except a scoffing Squidward gets into the picture, waiting for Santa to arrive on the big day. (Repeats 12-17, 22 & 25)
9 p.m. (Lifetime) A Town Without Christmas (2001, drama). Patricia Heaton, Peter Falk. Romance develops as a reporter and a novelist try to find a child who wrote a disturbing letter to Santa.
(Hallmark) The Christmas Gift.
Thursday, Dec. 8
11 a.m. (CMT) Christmas Comes to Willow Creek.
6 p.m. (HGTV) The White House Christmas 2005.
8 p.m. (ABC Family) I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.
8:30 p.m. (Nickelodeon) The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius/”Holly Jolly Jimmy.” Jimmy is convinced that Santa Claus does not exist. To prove his theory, he travels to the North Pole with Carl and Sheen where they discover a remote toy factory. When Jimmy’s homing device malfunctions, it emits a blast of energy that hits the source of the signal: Santa Claus. With the big guy’s atoms temporarily scrambled, who can deliver the presents? Jimmy must now put his doubts aside, load up the hypercube and try to save Christmas. (Repeats 12-17, 20 & 25)
9 p.m. (NBC) Will & Grace. The gang spends the holidays with Marilyn (Blythe Danner).
9 p.m. (TBS) Scrooged. Bill Murray as debased TV exec subjected to serious attitude adjustment via, you guessed, it three ghosts on Christmas Eve among preparations for live telecast. Twisted but ultimately touching.
10 p.m. (NBC) ER. Nurse Haleh (Yvette Freeman) holds her annual choir tryouts.
(i/PAX) Gaithers: Joy to the World.
Midnight: (CMT) 20 Merriest Christmas Videos.
Friday, Dec. 9
8 a.m. (USA) Stealing Christmas.
12 p.m. (Nick Jr.) LazyTown’s “Surprise Santa.” PREMIERE – when Robbie Rotten hears that the LazyTowners are having a Christmas party, he assumes he wasn’t invited and aims to mar the merriment by shooting a snowball out of a cannon at the guests. Sportacus must save the day before the snowball crashes into the festivities. (Repeats 12-10, 23, 24)
12:30 p.m. (Nick Jr.) Blue’s Clues/”Blue’s Room” & “Holiday Wishes”
1 p.m. (Nick Jr.) Max & Ruby/”Max’s Christmas”
1:30 p.m. (Nick Jr.) Dora the Explorer/”A Present for Santa” (repeats 12-10, 16, 24)
7 p.m. (Lifetime) I’ll Be Home for Christmas (1997, drama). Ann Jillian, Jack Palance. A widowed doctor and his high-school flame are reunited after 20 years when he returns home for Christmas.
(ABC Family) Little Drummer Boy.
(Hallmark) Celebrate! Christmas With Maya Angelou. The poet celebrates with Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson.
7:30 p.m. (ABC Family) Little Drummer Boy: Book II.
8 p.m. (ABC) I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown. ReRun is the lovable but ever-skeptical younger brother of Linus and Lucy. It’s Christmas vacation and, as usual, ReRun’s big sister is stressing him out, so he decides to turn to his best friend, Snoopy, for amusement and holiday cheer. However his faithful but unpredictable beagle companion has plans of his own, giving ReRun reason to ask Snoopy to invite his canine brother Spike for a visit. When Spike shows up, it looks like ReRun will have a dog for Christmas after all… but then the real trouble begins.
(TOON) Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer. (2000) Cartoon based on the novelty Christmas song.
(ABC Family) Prancer. (1989) Sam Elliot and Cloris Leachman star in this family drama about a young girl who believes in Santa Claus and discovers an injured reindeer.
9 p.m. (Lifetime) Eve’s Christmas (2004, comedy-drama). Elisa Donovan, Cheryl Ladd. A lonely career woman gets a second chance to rethink a fateful decision after she wishes on a Christmas Eve star.
(Hallmark) Angel in the Family.
Midnight. (CMT) Christmas Comes to Willow Creek.
12:30 a.m. (Lifetime) A Very Cool Christmas (2004, comedy-drama). George Hamilton, Brooke Nevin. A fashion-conscious teen gives Santa a makeover.
Saturday, Dec. 10
9 a.m. (Hallmark) The Angel of Pennsylvania Avenue.
11 a.m. (Hallmark) Angel in the Family.
Noon (ABC Family) I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.
1 p.m. (Hallmark) The Christmas Gift.
2 p.m.:(ABC Family) Home Alone 2.
3 p.m. (Hallmark) Once Upon a Christmas.
(CMT) 20 Merriest Christmas Videos.
4 p.m. (CMT) Christmas Comes to Willow Creek.
5 p.m. (Hallmark) Twice Upon a Christmas.
6 p.m. (i/PAX) The Santa Trap (2002, comedy). Robert Hays, Shelley Long. Disbelieving parents send Santa Claus to jail after he is caught in their daughter’s snare.
(Hallmark) A Boyfriend for Christmas.
(Disney) The Ultimate Christmas Present (2000, comedy). Hallee Hirsh, Brenda Song. After a plan to make it snow in L.A. goes awry, two youngsters and Santa set things right.
8 p.m. (ABC) Dr. Suess’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Directed by Ron Howard and starring Jim Carrey, Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Baranski and Taylor Momsen. Based on the classic children’s book by the legendary Dr. Seuss, the live action movie takes viewers inside a snowflake to Whoville, the magical land of the Whos. But high above this holiday-loving town resides the Grinch, a nasty creature with a heart three sizes too small, who hates Christmas and plots to steal it from the Whos. Will a greedy Mayor Augustus Maywho or the seductive Martha May Whovier foil his plans? Or will it be the loving little Cindy Lous Who who will teach him the true meaning of Christmas?
(NBC) It’s A Wonderful Life. (1946) James Stewart. An angel helps a suicidal man by showing him the lives of those he cares for were he not around. Classic. Frank Capra directs.
9 p.m. (USA) Three Wise Guys (2005, comedy). Tom Arnold, Judd Nelson. On Christmas Eve, three hired killers give chase after unwittingly aiding the pregnant girlfriend of one of their targets.
(CMT) Christmas Time Is Here: A Skaggs Family Celebration Ricky. Skaggs performs songs of the season with his family.
(Hallmark) Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus. Stars Guttenberg, Crystal Bernard, Thomas Calabro and Armin Shimerman. Santa Claus is thinking about retiring but is concerned that he will not be able to turn the reigns over to his son Nick who has not yet settled down and found a wife. Ernest runs the day-to-day operations at the North Pole, and has selected 3 perfect candidates for Nick, one must surely be the next Mrs. Claus. But when Ernest and Nick go to meet the ladies, everything goes haywire as Nick unexpectedly falls in love with Beth, a hard working single mother who lost the Christmas spirit a long time ago.
10 p.m. (i/PAX) Gaither Christmas: A Time for Joy.
11 p.m. (Hallmark) The Christmas Gift.
Midnight. (ABC Family) Christmas Every Day (1996, comedy). Robert Hays, Erik von Detten. A youngster learns the meaning of Christmas when he is forced to relive the holiday over and over.
Sunday, Dec. 11
9 a.m. (TVLAND) Happy Days. Fonzie spends Christmas with the Cunninghams.
9:30 a.m. (TVLAND) Brady Bunch. Carol loses her voice.
10 a.m. (TVLAND) Green Acres. Oliver wants a Christmas tree.
10:30 a.m. (TVLAND) Addams Family. Uncle Fester plays St. Nick.
11 a.m. (TVLAND) Bewitched. Samantha’s first Christmas with Darrin.
11:30 a.m. (TVLAND) Dick Van Dyke. The Alan Brady Christmas show.
Noon (TVLAND) MacGyver. MacGyver befriend a homeless woman.
1 p.m. (TVLAND) Cheers. Sam buys Rebecca a last-minute gift.
(ABC Family) Richie Rich’s Christmas Wish. (1998) This live-action comedy stars David Gallagher as Richie Rich. Martin Mull and Lesley Ann Warren also appear.
(Hallmark) The Christmas Box.
1:30 p.m. (TVLAND) Night Court. A man in a red suit is charged with trespassing.
2 p.m. (TVLAND) Good Times. Penny steals a necklace.
2:30 p.m. (TVLAND) Andy Griffith Show. Christmas jail party.
3 p.m. (TVLAND) Gunsmoke. Seven homeless children spend Christmas in Dodge City.
4 p.m. (TVLAND) Happy Days. Fonzie’s bitter about his dad.
4:30 p.m. (TVLAND) Brady Bunch. Carol loses her voice.
5 p.m. (TVLAND) All In The Family. No Christmas bonus for Archie.
(USA) Three Wise Guys.
(CMT) Christmas Time Is Here: A Skaggs Family Celebration.
5:30 p.m. (TVLAND) All In The Family. Edith gets breast cancer.
6 p.m. (TVLAND) Sanford & Son. Fred becomes a miserable scrooge.
6:30 p.m. (TVLAND) What’s Happening. Mama’s lonely Christmas.
7 p.m. (TVLAND) Good Times. Cousin Naomi’s drinking problem.
(Hallmark) A Carol Christmas (2003, comedy-drama). Tori Spelling, William Shatner. An egomaniacal talk-show host has a chance to change.
7:30 p.m. (TVLAND) Andy Griffith Show. Christmas jail party.
8 p.m. (TVLAND) Little House on the Prairie. Laura sells her horse to buy a stove for Caroline.
9 p.m. (TVLAND) Andy Griffith Show. Christmas jail party.
(Hallmark) Santa Jr. (2002, fantasy). Lauren Holly, Judd Nelson. St. Nick’s slacker son reluctantly joins the family business but must clear his name after he is arrested for burglary. Hallmark
9:30 p.m. (TVLAND) Sanford & Son. Fred becomes a miserable scrooge.
10 p.m. (TVLAND) Top 10 Holiday Moments. Christmas TV clips.
(CMT) Christmas Time Is Here: A Skaggs Family Celebration.
11 p.m. (TVLAND) Three’s Company. The roommates try to avoid the Ropers’ Christmas party.
(Hallmark) The Christmas Box.
11:30 p.m. (TVLAND) Night Court. A blizzard traps everyone in the courthouse.
Midnight (TVLAND) Cheers. Sam buys Rebecca a last-minute gift.