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6 Real But Forgotten Holiday Cartoons

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Some holiday cartoon specials are the result of wanting to tell a heartwarming story that entertains, enlightens and ends up becoming a magical part of our childhood. And some are the result of escalating bar bets that disappear from our minds the moment they vanish from our screens. Here are those holiday cartoons…


Christmas Comes to Pac-Land (1982)


Santa Claus crashes his sleigh in Pac-Man’s video game village, a premise that can only make sense if you’ve been up 72 hours straight and have had nothing to eat but your own fingernails. Having never heard of Christmas before, Pac-Man’s family then immediately burns Santa as a heretic. Or learns the true meaning of the holiday and helps him out. (Depends on whether you get the “Directors Cut” DVD or not.) Actually, I’ve long forgotten how Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Pac-Man Jr. and Adopted Chinese Baby Pac-Man react and respond to the idea of Christmas. But if you’ve always felt the one thing missing from Santa stories is the chance he might be eaten by ghosts, then this is the special for you.


He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special (1985)


He-Man’s companion Orko crash lands on earth, bringing into sharp focus the alarming number of holiday specials that involve aircraft disasters. There he meets two kids who tell him of the magic of Christmas, only for Orko to take the children back to his home planet in a whimsical turn of events the Feds would refer to as “25 years in prison, minimum.” But then the evil Skeletor kidnaps the kids for reasons we’ll refer to as “because it’s Act II,” only for him to be so overcome by the kindness of the holidays that he rescues them from certain doom. Then He-Man dresses as Santa, the kids get flying belts and the Grinch shows up in drag because what the hell, I could say anything right about now and it would make just as much sense.


Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July (1979)


Nothing says “holidays” like heat stroke in a cartoon that rings in Christmas with Independence Day, the circus and ice dragons. Not to mention reinsnakes. And Rudolph being charged with embezzlement. And an army of evil snowmen that might prevent an ice cream man from getting it on with a trapeze artist. In fact, “Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July” is less a holiday cartoon than the lunatic ramblings of an unmedicated psychopath who when asked why Frosty would attend a circus in the dead of summer would simply respond, “But wait, I haven’t told you about the whale with the giant clock in its tail yet.”


’Twas the Night Before Christmas (1974)

In “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” Santa refuses to deliver gifts because it’s snowing. In the North Pole. In December. In “The Year without a Santa Claus,” Santa refuses to deliver gifts when he feels unappreciated by the children of the world. And in “'Twas the Night before Christmas,” Santa refuses to deliver gifts when he feels slighted by a letter published in a small town's paper…and written by a mouse. No doubt the cartoon studio was already storyboarding their next special, “Santa Gets Pissed Off Yet Again and Cancels Christmas for the Umpteenth Time”–in which Santa’s hair-triggered temperament is once more set off when he has to find about a dear friend’s engagement through another source, making him wonder why he even bothers trying to get close to people.


I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown (2003)


How do you follow “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” one of the greatest holiday specials ever to air? Well, you do “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” the “Empire Strikes Back” to the original cartoon’s “Star Wars.” Then “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” the “Return of the Jedi” of the original cartoon trilogy in both chronology and artistic achievement. Then you do about 1800 other specials until you unveil this cartoon, the “Phantom Menace” of Charlie Brown specials in which Linus’s brother wants a dog for Christmas, realizes he can’t care for it and then forces the dog to become homeless once again. It’s a cruel ending that’s heartwarming if only because it’s the emotional equivalent of having a flaming arrow shot through your chest.


The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus (1985)


If you ever wondered what the story of Santa Claus would be like if done as “Lord of the Rings” by way of a hippie commune with a focus on how Santa could drop dead at any minute, then this is the holiday special for you. Baby Santa is raised by wood nymphs, light elves, and wind demons in a Christmas introduction that would freak the crap out of any Fundamentalists. Then Santa’s taught by the Great Ak before moving to Laughing Valley in Hohaho with a cat named Blinky before the Council of Immortals must decide if they shall let him live forever or die from Goozle-Goblins in a stop-motion cartoon that really should have been made in the 60’s if only so mescaline could get an Associate Producer credit.


What are some Christmas specials you'd like to see? Let us know in the comments!


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