About Christmas TV History

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Christmas in July 2016: Jonathan Sowers

Christmas in July 2016: Jonathan Sowers

1) What Christmas episode/special/or movie always puts you in the holiday spirit?

It's not Christmas without seeing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer one more time. The opening scenes are all I need to see. Just the credits whisk me back to the 1960s when these shows came on every Christmas and you had to be there in front of the TV or you missed
it. The music in that special is so timeless and good. Watching that show was one of the highlights of my Christmas when I was a child. I remember the GE commercials too, with the elves. We always had lots of GE appliances--fridge, stove, washer, dishwasher, radios and TVs. Mom's GE stove is 63 years old.

2) What Christmas program or scene brings you to tears?

For me it's a song. Glen Campbell singing There's No Place Like Home. He sang it on his 1970 Christmas special, but I remember it more from his Capitol recording. It's a beautiful song and Glen sang it better than anyone else.

When I was growing up, my dad's family always celebrated Christmas Eve at Granny's next door and that song brings back memories of Christmas Eves past when I helped Granny decorate for Christmas and get the kitchen ready for the family to come that evening. And especially the one year when mom and I were walking home and she heard the bells on Santa's sleigh. That memory is so vivid that I
still remember the spot I was standing when she said it. I think I was about three or four. That same night I also remember watching Mary Martin as Peter Pan after I got home, on our old Philco black and white TV. I guess Santa had to circle the landing area while I looked at TV.

We didn't get a color TV until 1969 and I remember watching Glen Campbell on that TV. A GE 21" table model. I still have that TV in my living room.

3) What's your favorite quote of dialogue, song lyric, or sentiment from a Christmas program?

I only get to see the song now in recordings I made back in the 1980s and 90s or on YouTube--the opening to Christmas in Washington in its early years when they had the Naval Academy Glee Club singing was one of the classiest and best performed TV show openings ever done. "Christmas is the perfect time to beeeeee, in Washington, Deeee Ceeee!" They just got everything right when they made that introduction--the scenes of snow in the city--it's just magical. I was very sad when they changed it and now they don't even have the show on any more.

4) Is there a Christmas program that unintentionally frightens you--or turns you off?

The scene in Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol with the door knocker that turned into Marley's Ghost frightened me as a child and I never forgot it. Also the bony finger of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come was equally scary. I probably saw it about 1963 when I was in kindergarten and that memory lasted for years until I bought the DVD and saw it again. That particular show wasn't repeated as often as some of the others, but it was one of the first and I never forgot it. I also bought the book on the making of that show. I enjoy that show even more after learning the back story.

5) Name one character from Christmas entertainment with whom you closely identify? and explain why.

Hermey the Elf on the Rudolph special is one character I identify with. I haven't always fit in, especially in school. I never went along with the crowd, so to speak.


  1. Thanks for participating Jonathan. I'm going to miss Christmas in Washington too. It was always a high quality musical production.

  2. > The opening scenes are all I need to see.

    Jonathan, when it snows the opening music to RUDOLPH always starts running through my head.

  3. CHRISTMAS IN WASHINGTON used to be grand. I miss A&E showing HOLIDAY AT POPS, too!