About Christmas TV History

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Animation Celebration: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas

Welcome to Christmas in July: Animation Celebration!  July is the special time of the year that I turn the blog over to my readers.  All month long I'll be posting essays written by people eager to share their passion and memories for animated Christmas entertainments.

Today's essay is on Rankin/Bass' 1974 animated TV special 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.   It comes to us from Mickster.   This essay is not the first time Mickster has shared her views on Rankin/Bass animated specials.  She also wrote two essays for Kindertrauma, a site that is a fun look back at popular culture that has traumatized us as children.  Check out Mickster's essays about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and The Year Without a Santa Claus.  Her essays are fun, irreverent, and express feelings that a lot of us have about programs that we grew up with.

Father Mouse explains the problem.

Junctionville has a problem. The residents find that their letters to Santa have been returned unopened. Unfortunately, Santa is quite angry about a letter he received calling him a “fraudulent myth.”  He blames the residents of Junctionville because the hurtful letter was simply signed, from “All of us.” Now, the townsfolk must devise a plan to make Santa happy again before he passes them by on Christmas Eve.

Signed All of us.

Why this is one of my all-time favorite Christmas specials-
This special is one of many (Rudolph, Year Without a Santa, The Grinch, etc.) that convinced me that Christmas could be canceled due to some problem. I found it especially troublesome that a child (Albert the mouse) would write a letter saying that Santa was not real. I did, however, find it heartwarming that two adults would try to make things right with Santa.

I broke the clock.
The clockmaker Joshua Trundle decides the solution is to make an enormous clock that would play a special song for Santa on Christmas Eve.  Father Mouse attempts to convince his troublemaking son that Santa is indeed real.

Give Your Heart a Try

The music is another thing that makes TNBC so special to me. “Give Your Heart a Try,” sung by Father Mouse to the doubtful Albert is catchy and fun. “Even a Miracle Needs a Hand,” sung by Joshua Trundle to his sad children to raise their hopes simply makes me smile with a hint of a tear. “Christmas Chimes are Calling Santa,” played for an annoyed Santa on Christmas Eve brought relief to me as a child because I knew Santa would forgive the town and come after all.

Even a Miracle Needs a Hand.

There was plenty of suspense in TNBC for me as young child. Would Albert fix the clock in time? Would Santa forgive the town? Bottom line-Believe in Santa and be good or there could be dire consequences!

Santa's Coming!

P.S. Santa looks weird without a mustache!


  1. This is a favorite with my family, too! I loved it as a kid and my kids love it, in fact, it is my (15 year old) son's favorite! I have some of those tunes in my Christmas playlist, too! :)

  2. I was so happy when this became available on DVD (it is an extra on Frosty's Winter Wonderland) because ABC Family shows an edited version that omits "Give Your Heart a Try." The special just isn't special without that song!

  3. This use to be aired i believe on CBS in the 80's. I remember thinking the Santa and the Reindeer were kinda odd looking but i think Rankin/ Bass were trying to be unique. The songs are great in this one, especially " Give your heart a try".

  4. Yes, it aired on CBS for many years. I remember being highly disappointed when the song was missing on ABC Family. The look of Santa always bugged me. He needs a mustache.

  5. Thanks for sharing, Mickster! I loved this when I was a kid and then suddenly it stopped airing for many years. Totally agree that the music in this is great. When watching it years later as an adult, I was amazed by how all those songs came back to me! And I agree with Andrew, some of Rankin & Bass' character design could be a little unique, and yes, Santa looks weird with a mustache! haha

  6. Thank you, Jakki! I am so happy to find fellow fans of this awesome special!

  7. Thanks for reminding us about what is so special here. All my childhood memories come flooding back!