Howdy, folks. It’s that time of the year when all of our regular favorites are on hiatus and their weird seasonal cousins are let out of the attic for at least 12 days, though usually for far more. Like all weird cousins, we love them for their antics, but let’s be real: We know how this family gathering is going to end—with all that sweet, sweet Christmas cash going toward a certain cousin’s bail bond.
Or, you know, just that sense of post-holiday relief when everyone goes home and you can bask in the knowledge that there are several state lines, maybe even a time zone or two, between you and the mothership.
Christmas concerts, celebrity-laden specials, and ancient once-a-year primetime cartoons—not to mention both new and old holiday-themed movies and episodes—are an inescapable aspect of the holiday season, just like horrific lines at the post office, pricey airfare, and that look you get from the priest when he points out that he hasn’t seen you at mass since Easter. Even though Rudolph’s stop-motion elves haven’t gotten any less creepy looking with time, there are just some things you have to grin and bear and reluctantly admit aren’t all that bad. Kinda like eggnog.
I know, I know, I miss New Girl too, but Jess will be back soon. In the meantime, we’re all in this together. So grab your finest Christmas Ale (or a tall glass of ice-cold 2% milk) and join me in reveling in these tried-and-true Christmas programming traditions.
... if the plot involves “saving Christmas.”
... if the plot is actually “A Christmas Carol.”
... for any appearance of a muppet outside of a muppet program.
... if the words “friends,” “family,” “country,” or “home” appear anywhere in a concert special’s title.
... whenever somebody, ANYBODY, sings anything.
... for every woman dressed as a slutty Santa or naughty elf.
... for every Charlie Brown Christmas Tree, regardless of whether you’re actually watching A Charlie Brown Christmas.
...for every “Christmas Miracle.”
... for every famous “friend” who visits during an equally famous celebrity’s Christmas show.
... for every ugly sweater, scarf, vest, or hat on the screen at a given time.
... if Mrs. Claus makes an appearance (upgrade to taking a shot if Mrs. Claus is hot.)
... if we learn “the real meaning of Christmas.”
... every time a soundstage is covered with fake snow that looks totally fake.
... every time the commercial break feels the need to remind you that you’re watching a “classic.”
... for every “God bless us, everyone.”
... for every “message from our sponsors.”
... for every children’s choir.
... for creepy, yet endearing, stop-motion animation.
... every time someone appears to be reading from a teleprompter/cue card.
... if anybody kisses under the mistletoe.
... if there is a nativity scene.
... if the aforementioned nativity ends up being a disaster.
... for any token reference to any holiday other than Christmas.
... if the Christmas special at hand is a spin-off of a non-Christmas property (think Shrek, not The Colbert Report, because once you start making the argument that Stephen Colbert, Michael Buble, and Blake Shelton are not inherently Christmas-y properties, you can apply this rule to pretty much anything and that’s totally cheating.)
... if the Christmas special is a spin-off of a Christmas special.
... if the special is a remake of a remake.
... if your kid has no idea who Mr. Magoo is.
... if a normally “edgy” personality gets all kid-friendly for the duration of the holiday season.
... if a grown man wears tights.
... if Santa ends up being a total badass, homicidal maniac, or robot.
And just like the commercials say, please enjoy responsibly.