Friday, November 17, 2017

Where to Watch Christmas TV programs 2017

It's the most wonderful time of the year, isn't it? The Christmas TV movies have already begun airing.  I've started my tweets (@TisTheSeasonTV) and daily postings on the Facebook page Tis The Season TV making suggestions for viewing--calling them SET YOUR DVRs.  The viewing options during November and December each year can get a little overwhelming. Let me update you with the details of where to find the best holiday programming for 2017.

The Hallmark Channel releases more new Christmas TV movies each year than any other network in the industry.
Christmas TV Movies:

For many Christmas TV movie fans, the Hallmark Channel is the network schedule to check first.  With good reason, in 2017, Hallmark will be airing more than 20 new Christmas TV movies alongside many classics from their archives.  If you didn't already know, the movie marathon has already begun--it started Friday, October 27th--and continues all day and all night through the end of December.  They typically debut their new holiday movies on Saturday and Sunday nights. HERE'S the link to the list of Christmas TV movie premieres. The daily schedule of their holiday movies can be found on their website HERE.

Complete list of 2017 Hallmark Christmas movie premieres. Click on image to enlarge.

Complete list of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 2017 Christmas movie premieres. Click on image to enlarge.

Hallmark's sister channel--Hallmark Movies and Mysteries--also airs new Christmas TV movies and older classics. In fact, the older holiday movies they broadcast are pulled from a deeper archive so this is the place to see some of your older Hallmark Christmas TV movie favorites.

This is the fifth year that HMM is premiering their own new Christmas TV movies--this year they have thirteen new movies.  Click HERE for more about HMM Christmas movies. And, just like the Hallmark Channel, HMM has already begun their holiday programming--which will continue through the end of the holidays.  Click HERE for the link to the complete HMM Christmas movie schedule.

The schedule highlights of the 25 Days of Christmas on Freeform. Click on image to enlarge.

Freeform (formerly known as ABC Family Channel) is another major source of holiday programming every year. But I didn't need to tell you that, right?  We're all familiar with their marathons of Christmas animation, Christmas movies, and family-friendly entertainment. Freeform's 25 Days of Christmas programming marathon begin Dec. 1st, however their holiday programming has already begun. Click HERE for the daily schedule. They have three new debuts this holiday season: the original movie Angry Angel which first airs on Nov. 27th, Disney Fairy Tale Weddings: Holiday Magic on Dec. 11th, and Decorating Disney on Dec. 18th.

New Lifetime Christmas TV movies begin Nov. 25th.

Lifetime is debuting eight new Christmas TV movies in 2017. I know, right? Those new movies will be airing on Saturday and Sunday nights. Click here for more info about each of those.

UpTV holiday schedule for 2017. Click to enlarge.

UP Network also debuts new family-friendly Christmas TV movies, as well as showing older favorites too. This year, the schedule looks exciting. Of these movies, many are new ones. For more about the UP Network Christmas programming, click HERE.

2017 movie guide for Ion TV including premieres. Click to enlarge.

ION Television's schedule is filled with holiday movies too. Look for those on Saturday and Sunday nights. This year, they are debuting five new Christmas TV movies as well as airing favorites from the past. Click HERE for the complete schedule.

Classic Christmas Specials and Movies:

The 2017 schedule of GetTV Christmas programming chock full of vintage variety specials! Click to enlarge.

But one of the MOST EXCITING holiday programming schedules has to be GetTV. They have pulled out all the stops again this year! What I'm most looking forward to watching are A Nashville Christmas special,  four classic Perry Como Christmas specials, the Mac Davis Christmas Special, the Johnny Cash Christmas music specials, Glen Campbell Christmas special, and the Father Knows Best Christmas TV movie reunion. GetTV is also airing Christmas episodes of nearly forgotten TV westerns. There's so much good stuff on their schedule, I'm overwhelmed--and you should be too. This is an abundance of riches. Check out the full GetTV holiday schedule here.

Me TV offers Sunday afternoon marathons in 2017.

Me TV is rolling out their retro programming's Christmas installments on Sunday afternoon marathons throughout the holiday season. Here's the schedule of episodes for the Sunday marathons. However, if you just peek at their daily schedule, you can see an abundance of holiday episodes there too. Not quite sure why their not promoting it? I guess you can follow along with me on Facebook and Twitter at @TistheSeasonTV where I'll highlight the more fun and rare ones.

Antenna TV, another retro programming network, is planning a Christmas Eve and Christmas Day marathon of holiday episodes from their current classic TV line-up. That should be fun.

Major Networks:

NBC's live concert event is always a good one!

Of course, the major networks have their holiday programming as well. NBC is already promoting their 20th annual Christmas in Rockefeller Center concert for Wed. Nov. 29th at 8pm(ET). NBC will also be airing Dreamworks' Trolls Holiday Special at 8:30pm(ET) on Friday, Nov. 24th. That new animated special based on the film characters should be exciting.

ABC is once again airing the variety special CMA Country Christmas. This year's concert has a new host: Reba McEntire. It airs Monday, Nov. 27th, 8pm(ET). 

CBS is airing the animated classics Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Frosty Returns, and The Story of Santa Claus again this year. Look for Frosty and Frosty Returns on Friday, Nov. 24th.

And, Fox is airing the live musical experience of A Christmas Story: the Musical. Matthew Broderick has been cast as the narrator, and Maya Rudolph as Mrs. Parker. This should be fun! It airs on Dec. 17th. Have you seen a staging of this musical before?

Stay close to my social media links for more announcements about fantastic holiday programming. If you'd like reminders of the new Christmas TV movie debuts and other exciting holiday TV  programming, don't forget to follow my Facebook page Tis The Season TV and/or my tweets at @TisTheSeasonTV.   Where on the metaphorical television dial do you watch your favorite Christmas movies and specials?  Feel free to share in the comments below.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A Christmas Story House with Triple Dog Dare

Cleveland Christmas celebrity photo bomb! See the person entering the gate to A Christmas Story House behind me?

What an adventure I had yesterday! Cleveland, Ohio TV news anchors from Fox 8 News slept overnight at A Christmas Story House on Monday, Nov. 13th. Early Tuesday morning, they broadcast their morning show live from the living room of the House. Luckily, they invited me to join them to talk about my latest book Triple Dog Dare. Since this was the morning show, I decided to join them in my Christmas pajamas. It was so much fun!

Photo courtesy of Fox 8. On the Christmas Story House front porch, from left to right: Wayne Dawson, Kenny Crumpton, Stefani Schaefer, Kristi Capel, and Scott Sabol.

After my live interview as I was leaving the House, I bumped into actor Patty Johnson. She played the hysterically funny mean elf that drags Ralphie up the stairs to visit with Santa Claus. Johnson was on her way into the House to join the Fox 8 anchors just after me. We exchanged pleasantries and I directed her to the back door entrance. I knew they were waiting for her, so I didn't want to hold her up by asking for a photo. I was also a little star struck! How awesome is it to bump into one of the movie's cast?

If you're interested in checking out my interview, watch the brief video clip above. If you don't have your own copy of Triple Dog Dare yet, or are looking to get one as a gift, author-signed copies are available for purchase from the publisher's website here:

I was very pleased to sign copies for each of the anchors.

Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Holiday Season on Social Media: 2017

Hi Friends! Now that Halloween is behind us, I'm getting ready for the holiday season. I'm making some changes to my daily social media posts and want to let you know where you can follow along. I've amassed quite an archive of detailed discussions on Christmas entertainment--and I'll be trotting this content out again to help you rediscover holiday favorites from the past. Here's what I'll be doing:

On the Facebook page: Christmas TV History
--Each day of the week I'll be sharing another post from this website based on the following categories:

Monday Musicals
Tuesday 70s
Dickensian Wednesdays
Animation Thursdays
Friday Movies
Saturday Sitcoms
Sunday 60s

This is just a fun way to roll out the archives and I hope you'll enjoy it. Today on Tuesday 70s I have already shared my discussion of the 1977 Christmas episode of the sitcom Three's Company. I'm looking forward to exploring these lively categories.

--Each day on Christmas TV History, I'll also be sharing a video link to a Christmas-themed episode, special, or movie. The funnest links are the rare, hard-to-find programs from the past. Look for one each day.

--I'll also post a link to the new essays I write throughout November and December, just like I usually do. You can expect a new essay on Seinfeld and its invention of Festivus coming soon.

Follow along on the Facebook page to see what comes next. As always, if you skip a day on Facebook, just scroll down the Christmas TV History page wall to see what you missed.

On the Facebook page: Tis the Season TV
--Each day I'll be posting a Yuletide Memory of the Day as usual however, these are selected from the best of my archives and won't duplicate the daily links from Christmas TV History on Facebook! Yeah--I have a large archive.

--I'll also be making daily suggestions called Set Your DVRs on upcoming TV programs to look for in your TV listings. If you don't watch broadcast/cable/or satellite TV, you could look for these programming suggestions on-demand, or streaming on Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, on DVD at your local library, or by whatever means you enjoy holiday entertainment.

On the Facebook page: Triple Dog Dare
--I'll be making updates about my latest book, its contents, events & book signings, and more.

On Twitter: @TistheSeasonTV
--I'll be sharing the same content (in 144 characters or less) as above.  Follow me if you don't already.

I'm also on Instagram as @TistheSeasonTV--you're welcome to follow me there too.

Of course, the archives from this website are derived from the research I did and continue to update for the encyclopedia I wrote Tis the Season TV. From the same research, I've also written The Christmas TV Companion, Merry Musical Christmas, Vol. 1, and Triple Dog Dare. Yet this website's content is a small portion of the Christmas programming discussed in the encyclopedia and the other books. You can easily purchase any of these books--fulfilled by my publisher 1701 Press--directly from this website. Just click on the SHOP tab at the top of the website. Or, you can shop from the publisher's website:

Feel free to follow any or all of these networking locations--and join the conversation. Social networking is about being social so please feel free to share your favorite memories from these programs or ask questions.

If you change your mind and don't want to follow my posts, just change your notifications or unfollow. It's that simple.

And, if you aren't seeing the daily posts from these facebook pages as you like, go to the home page and make sure you're receiving notifications. If you comment, like, and share the posts--this increases the page's visibility in your newsfeed. Again, if you miss any of the daily posts, go directly to the page wall and scroll down to see what you missed--like, comment, and share to see future posts. Let me know if you have any questions.

If you'd rather go through this website's archives yourself (independently of social media links) PLEASE do so--feel free to use the SEARCH BOX and type in any title you'd like. If you're on a computer, the search box is located at the top of this website on the right hand side. If you're on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom and hit view web version--and you should see the search box again at the top on the right. If I haven't written about your favorite Christmas episode, special, or movie yet on the website, let me know--maybe I'll cover it soon.

Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Good Will to Men (1955) Christmas cartoon

1955 MGM cartoon--a remake of Hugh Harman's 1939 anti-war classic Peace on Earth.

During the month of October, I often think about Christmas entertainment that contains a spooky element or a horror theme. If you follow me on social media (Tis the Season TV on Facebook, and @TistheSeasonTV on Twitter), you know I usually share my reviews of these Halloween/Christmas cross-overs all month long. Last week on the website, I took a look back at the 1939 post-apocalyptic yuletide cartoon Peace on Earth. Click HERE to see that review again. I thought I'd follow that up with a discussion of Peace on Earth's re-make entitled Good Will to Men.

While this Christmas animated short is not usually considered a horror story, it does contain frightening imagery that intends to shock viewers--an experience that stands out against most other Christmas entertainment. Even if you've become accustomed to Dickens' ghost story, a frightening story about the extinction of mankind isn't what we expect from a typical Christmas cartoon.

Do those names sound familiar? Yes, this 1955 cartoon was directed by Hanna and Barbera, the two men who eventually went on to create their own studio for TV animation. You know Yogi Bear, the Flintstones, and the original Scooby-Doo? That's Hanna-Barbera.

Like the 1939 cartoon, so too was the 1955 re-make nominated for an Academy Award. Pretty cool, huh? Let's see why.

This 1955 re-make begins just as the 1939 cartoon does with an image of a broken stained glass window in a bombed out church.

The choir of mice raise their voices to sing "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing."

The 1955 re-make is quite similar to the 1939 original. The cartoon begins with snow falling on the war torn remains of a church. A group of mice in the ruins of a church are singing “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing.” After the lyric "Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men," the youngsters ask their choir director who are men? His reply begins with the warning that men didn't practice what they preached.

In the 1939 cartoon, we see an elderly squirrel share his story with his grandchildren. In the 1955 re-make, we see a choir director mouse share his story with the youngsters in the church choir.

Once again, humans are described as monstrous.
The mouse choir director goes on to describe humans as monstrous creatures with an unquenchable thirst for violence that drove them to extinction. As the choir director says, humans were..."always thinkin' up ways to kill each other." The description grows alarming and the imagery in the cartoon becomes startling!

Keep in mind: when this cartoon was made, we were in the middle of the Cold War. Has our thirst for blood changed? I'll let you make your own conclusion.

By 1955 we had the ability (and willingness) to firebomb whole towns and cities.

One of the differences between the 1955 cartoon and the earlier one is an acknowledgment in the advancement of military technology and escalation in deadly weaponry. In both cartoons we see soldiers marching, tanks rolling, and exploding bombs lighting up the night sky. However, in the 1955 cartoon, we see an advancement in anti-aircraft weaponry, flame throwers, automatic guns, and even bigger bombs.

The chilling image of a military cemetery that stretches beyond the horizon.

The glow of red and green Christmas lights? NOPE. This is the depiction of how human went extinct--overlapping mushroom clouds. This is horrifying stuff.

The warning is CLEAR: this is our future if we continue on our current violent path.
Not your typical Christmas message, is it?

The 1955 cartoon imagines that humans are so out-of-control that they went extinct by means of multiple nuclear explosions that encircled the planet. Yikes!

Just like the 1939 version, this cartoon finds an owl sharing wisdom from the humans' book of rules.
The cartoon continues after the extinction of mankind, with animals of the forest coming out of hiding to seek shelter in a church in ruins. An old owl finds a discarded Bible with the oft-ignored rules “Thou Shalt Not Kill” and “Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself,” which inspires the animals to learn from the humans' mistakes and live peacefully.

The choir director makes the point in his story that the lesson "Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself" are words upon which depend the future of us all.

The animals all exchange pleasant greetings and small kindnesses

As the choir begins singing the popular carol "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" again, we see the members of the church enter and take their seats for the Christmas service. This ending feels more hopeful for the future than the previous 1939 cartoon. There also seems to be a stronger moral tone in the later version. The biblical references from the earlier version are "Thou Shalt Not Kill" and the Old Testament adage "Ye Shall Rebuild the Old Wastes," while the 1955 version includes "Thou Shalt Not Kill" and "Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself." To be fair, it's a stronger message. The second version of this cartoon includes a scarier warning about violence, one that results in nuclear war. The more uplifting tone in the end is a welcome sentiment.

Which cartoon do you prefer--1939's Peace on Earth, or 1955's Good Will to Men? Perhaps we can all agree the message of both cartoons concerning peace and good will is a wonderful reminder any time of year.

Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Peace on Earth (1939) Christmas cartoon

In case you don't know, cartoons like this were originally made to run in movie theaters before feature films. Audiences usually saw a couple cartoons, a newsreel, maybe other shorts, and trailers before the movie. Those were the days, eh?

I thought October would be a fun time to look back at the 1939 cartoon Peace on Earth. It was Oscar nominated for “Best Short Subject” that year. While this yuletide classic is not typically considered a horror story, it does contain frightening imagery with the intention to shock viewers--an experience that stands out against most other Christmas entertainment. Even if you've become accustomed to Dickens' ghost story, a post-apocalyptic story about the extinction of mankind isn't what we expect from a Christmas cartoon. If you haven't seen it in a while, let me remind you of the details.

The imagery from the start is bleak and frightening.

The 1939 MGM animated short was originally filmed in Technicolor, and directed by the legendary Hugh Harman. The story begins with snow falling on a bombed-out church with splintered stained glass windows, abandoned artillery, and a community in ruins after war. Viewers hear the carol "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," however the lyrics have been changed to highlight a repetition of the phrase "Peace on Earth." Eventually we see a warm, little community of houses made from military helmets, spent mortar shells, and cannon barrels. Within that community, chipmunk carolers are seen as the ones singing "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing." An elder squirrel walks by the carolers, offering them a friendly holiday greeting before entering his home.

Grandpa squirrel offers the young ones a scary bed time story about humans.

Once inside, the elder squirrel is welcomed home by his wife and grandchildren. He offers to them the same festive greeting "Peace on Earth. Good Will to Men!" His grandchildren ask him "What are men?" and the elder squirrel decides to share a scary bedtime story to amuse them.

Confirmed: gas masks and bayonet rifles are horrifying!

The squirrel's story begins with a description of men as monstrous creatures that were always fighting about their significant and trivial differences. The description is accompanied by frightening images of a soldier wearing a gas mask and carrying a bayonet rifle, a line of tanks roaring through a bombed-out city, and a sky lit up by exploding bombs.

The last man's desperate grasp sinks into the mud as he dies in battle. This is some scary stuff!

The grandfather's story continues, explaining that humans continued to wage war until they made themselves extinct. The nightmarish point is made by showing how the last two humans killed each other, and their bodies sink into the mud. With mankind gone, the animals emerge from the forests and begin to investigate what's left behind.

The animals stumble across the human's own ignored instruction "Thous Shalt Not Kill." Ouch!

The elder squirrel explains that he was quite young then, but he joined a group of animals in a war-ravaged church. An owl reads from a "book of rules" left behind by the humans which includes the 10 Commandments and the Old Testament verse "Ye Shall Rebuild the Old Wastes." Learning from the humans' mistake, the birds, raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks, and rabbits begin to rebuild their homes and community in peace and cooperation from what's left behind.

A sign identifies the new city as Peaceville.

The new community "rebuilt from the old wastes" recycles the obsolete helmets, mortar shells, and artillery into habitat for the forest survivors. As we hear the carol "Silent Night" over the soundtrack, viewers recognize that Peaceville is the same village where the elder squirrel and his grandchildren now live. With his grandchildren fast asleep, he tucks them into bed on the peaceful Christmas evening. The cartoon’s clear anti-war message is deliberately created to overlap with the Christmas sentiments of peace, goodwill, and respect for God’s rules, such as the Ten Commandments.

The lyric "Sleep in Heavenly Peace" from Silent Night completes the cartoon's message.

While the cautionary tale remains as relevant as ever, the powerful imagery of the modern soldiers and warfare in 1939 certainly points to the immanent conflicts in Europe at the time, namely the incursions of Nazi Germany. Moving against the warnings made in this short film, less than two years later, the United States joined in the fighting in what was to become World War II.

The cartoon was re-made in 1955 as Good Will to Men by Joseph Hanna and William Barbera. More on that, coming soon. [To see my review of the 1955 re-make Good Will to Men, click HERE ].

Watch the 1939 cartoon for yourself at this link:

Do you have a favorite scary Christmas tale? Please feel free to leave a comment below.

Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Perry Como's Early American Christmas (1978)

First broadcast Dec. 12, 1978

Visiting Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, the hometown of singer Perry Como, last month sparked a desire to re-watch an old Como Christmas TV special. Click here to see the details of my journey to Canonsburg again. Deciding on which Como holiday special was a challenge--he's been in so many. Perry's first TV appearance during Christmas time was in 1948. Throughout the 1950s and 60s, he hosted his own Perry Como Show and Kraft Music Hall which featured annual Christmas installments. By the late '60s, he hosted his own annual Christmas TV variety specials. In the 1970s and 80s, his popular Christmas specials were shot at distinctive destinations around the world and were themed to highlight the culture of each place. His final Christmas special, a concert shot in Ireland, first aired on PBS in 1994. That's almost fifty years of outstanding holiday TV entertainment.

I decided on the 1978 special Perry Como's Early American Christmas from Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia because it easily combines patriotism and the Christmas spirit--two American celebrations that aren't commonly joined together quite like this. While Como's annual holiday TV specials are certainly a thing of the past, this particular one honoring our American heritage seems to be a forgotten trend as well. Let's look at this one again.

Hot Diggity! Mr. C sings Christmas favorites in Colonial Williamsburg.

Como's guests for this Christmas show include actor John Wayne, actress/singer Diana Canova, violinist Eugene Fodor, and beauty pageant winner Kylene Barker. In 1978, Diana Canova was starring on the serialized sitcom Soap as Jessica Tate's daughter Corinne. Don't even get me started talking about my favorite characters and storylines--I'm a huge fan of Soap! Actor John Wayne's final Western was already behind him by 1978. Sadly, the film legend died of cancer six months after this Christmas special first aired. Also featured in this special are the College of William & Mary choir, and the fife and drum corps, dancers, craftsmen, and costumed people of Colonial Williamsburg.

"...2 powdered wigs..."

The opening song in the 1978 Christmas variety special is the "Twelve Days of Christmas" sung by Como with special lyrics reflecting the colonial experience of historic Williamsburg. As the lyrics countdown the twelve days of the holiday, we see the gifts given were ones made by the local makers, including candles, powdered wigs, violins, gingerbread men, golden rings, woven baskets, wooden barrels, printed Christmas stories, spools of linen, ladies' bonnets, horseshoes, wagon wheels--you get the idea! Viewers are immediately immersed in the distinctive culture of eighteenth-century Colonial Williamsburg.

The eighteenth-century costumes are delightful!

Next, the fife and drum corps marches across the grounds. Como walks alongside a young drummer and sings the popular Christmas carol "Little Drummer Boy." In one of the historic homes on the grounds, Diana Canova sings "My Cup Runneth Over." This is followed by Perry and Diana singing "It Couldn't Please Me More (A Pineapple)," a song originally written for the Broadway musical Cabaret.

Canova explains that a pineapple is a colonial symbol of hospitality.

Mr. C discusses early American Christmas traditions. Here, Kylene Barker--Miss Virginia 1978, and Miss America 1979--explains the traditions behind the Christmas games played by colonists.

The next production number takes place at the Governor's Palace, with dancers and costumed colonials dressed in their finery for a holiday ball. Perry Como sings one of his signature holiday songs "(There's No Place Like) Home for the Holidays."

The colonials ignore Perry's contemporary tuxedo.

Violinist Fodor performs alongside a harpsichord.

Violinist Eugene Fodor performs an impressive classical piece, followed by John Wayne reading a soldier's letter written to his mother back in Williamsburg. The letter was dated 1758, written while the soldier was away from home over Christmas, serving during the French and Indian War. The touching letter articulates the timeless sentiment about the pain of missing one's family at the holidays while faithfully serving one's country.

In this Christmas special, patriotism and the holiday spirit go hand in hand.

Perry and Canova during "Try to Remember."

Next, Diana Canova and Perry sing "Try to Remember," originally written for the musical The Fantasticks. They are accompanied by Fodor on violin. And, Como and Canova join the colonial dancers in the Virginia reel.

In the tavern, Como joyfully lifts his drink to sing "I Saw Three Ships."

The Duke joins in to sing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."

At the Williamsburg tavern, Canova performs "We're Cooking a Holiday Meal" in the kitchen with the cooks. Now wearing period garb, Wayne and Como join the background singers in a medley, singing "Boar's Head Carol," "Here We Come A-wassailing," "I Saw Three Ships," and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."

The choir walks by candlelight to church at Williamsburg.

Another annual TV tradition: Como's smooth-as-silk version of "Ave Maria."

A candlelight procession enters the Williamsburg house of worship for the show's finalé of sacred music, including "O Come All Ye Faithful" and "Joy to the World." Perry Como's last song is also his finest, performing "Ave Maria."

Portions of this 1978 variety special can be seen on Christmas Around the World with Perry Como, an official DVD release with several clips from Como's '70s and '80s holiday specials.

A moment of joy and laughter.

Fans of John Wayne may know that he also appeared on Bob Hope's 1976 Christmas TV special. During the holidays, I prefer to watch John Wayne in 3 Godfathers, the 1948 Western directed by John Ford. See my discussion of that movie again here. If you're drawn to early American and patriotic Christmas specials, I recommend watching the 1982 TV special Andy Williams' Early New England Christmas, shot at the Shelburne Museum, in Shelburne, Vermont.

Do you have a favorite Perry Como Christmas TV special? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Perry Como statue in Canonsburg, PA. September 2017.

Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701