Fesitvus for the rest of us

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(Graphic by Wade Thompson)

Come Dec. 1, the holiday season is in full swing. It’s time to put up your trees, break out the dreidels and basically sit and stew until you have the time to relax with family and friends while visions of sugarplums dance in your heads.

What exactly is a sugarplum and why is it Christmas-related? I have no idea. But one thing I do know is that with the holiday season comes holiday themed television and movies.

Most people don’t realize is that you’re not limited to Frosty the Snowman and It’s a Wonderful Life for your viewing pleasure. While both are (and should be) staples of the December break, there are plenty of alternate options that you can use to reach your ‘cheer quota’ for the month.

A Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation and Miracle on 34th Street will be on every television channel this month, but there are a number of other films that don’t necessarily spring to mind that you should also give a shot.

On the romantic-comedy front, Serendipity is a staple for me. In spite of it’s cheesiness and predictability, you have to love it’s snow-filled, New York centric romance.

Then of course you have Love Actually, one of the greatest rom-coms ever made and conveniently centred around Christmas. While You Were Sleeping also really works as a wonderful end before the New Year.

We can’t forget the much less-cheery movies as well. Bill Murray’s Scrooged is a hilariously dark take on the standard Christmas Carol story. Then of course you have Die Hard, which, contrary to popular belief, is a holiday movie.

But for as many films as we can name, there are twice as many holiday-centric TV specials you should make some time for.

I would be remised if I didn’t start by recommending all the claymation goodness you’ll need over the break with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

What December would be complete without indulging in Hermey the dentist-elf and one of the greatest named characters of all time: Yukon Cornelius? Then of course you have a few other standards like A Charlie Brown Christmas, the original animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Disney’s take on Dickens’s tale, Mickey’s Christmas Carol.

But, there are a ton of individual episodes from some of your favourite shows that you should take the time to seek out this year too. 30 Rock has consistently taken part in holiday-themed shows, but the standout would be season two’s “Ludachristmas.” Then, there would be the very bold, but nonetheless stellar claymation effort from Community, “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas.” Seeing Señor Chang as a snowman should be all the convincing you need to find this one.

Friends really prided itself on its Thanksgiving-themed episodes, but did produce one wholly memorable Christmas/Hanukkah story with “The One With the Holiday Armadillo.” And then of course there is Frank Costanza’s “Festivus for the rest-of-us” from Seinfeld’s “The Strike.”

A staple from my childhood that is a little harder to find, but still worth the holiday cheer, would be Christmas Eve on Sesame Street. Big Bird learned about Santa, Ernie and Bert sold their own things to buy the perfect gift for the other — it’s some heartwarming television.

Also, shockingly heartwarming is the series finale of Ricky Gervais’s Extras. The hour-and-a-half-long special episode, from a show that brought to the surface the brutal awkward humour of “celebrity,” really wrapped up the series on a lovingly, fuzzy note that revolved around Christmas.

There are still an abundance of other episodes that can be mentioned, but the column space doesn’t allow for any more details. Just off the cuff, other specials you might want to make some time for are: “Wakko’s Wish” from Animaniacs, “The Christmas Show” from Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, “Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo” from South Park, “Christmukkah” from The OC and, if you’re super desperate for holiday fare, YouTube the Star Wars Christmas Special. You might regret the latter one, but at least it’s hilariously awful.

So once you’re finally finished exams and have the opportunity to grab a nice gingerbread latté, you now have some holiday fodder to fill your TV down time with. And let’s face it; there’s really nothing better

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