About Christmas TV History

Monday, August 1, 2016

Christmas in July 2016: Jim Fanning

Christmas in July 2016: Jim Fanning at Tulgey Wood

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

When the Whos start singing at the beginning of Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (the original animated TV special from 1966). Their rendition of “Welcome, Christmas” followed immediately by “Trim Up the Tree” just make me instantly feel like it’s Christmastime.

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

There are so many but I never fail to be moved by the entire not-quite-Christmas-but-we’ll-make-it-Christmas scene in Auntie Mame (not strictly speaking a Christmas movie but as so many of us feel, if it has a Christmas scene, it’s a Christmas movie!)…especially when Beau invites Mame out and she declines, saying she is going to have a celebration with "my little family.” Christmas is about the family, whatever form it may take--and unconventional Mame of course has formed a unique family around her, even though it was unplanned.

The Cratchit family in Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol.

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

Here I have to choose the song “The Lord’s Bright Blessing” in Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol. No, not the part about razzeleberry dressing (although that’s fun and quanit), but the line “we’ll have a Christmas far more glorious than grand."  The entire song captures the essence of A Christmas Carol, about having a merry Christmas even if you have very little…or nothing… "as long as we're together, heart to hand."

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

This one's easy. I know a lot of people have an affection for it, but I find The Polar Express so creepy. I’m not sure why a good director like Robert Zemeckis is so attracted to that motion capture process. And in case you're wondering if I saw his version of A Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey, the answer is no.

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

I am tempted to say, like David Hofstede, John-Boy Walton, for the same reason as David's: John-Boy is the embodiment of the writer, or at least the in progress writer. (Plus I bear a certain resemblance to John-Boy.) But instead I'll cheat and choose two characters:  Lucy Carmichael and Vivian Bagley from The Lucy Show episode, "A Christmas Together.”  I can truly relate to how both Lucy and Viv are so dedicated to their holiday traditions because I too have strong opinions on the “best” way to celebrate Christmas—although I also am fascinated by and interested in how others celebrate too, and Mrs. Carmichael and Mrs. Bagley are not. But at the end of the episode Lucy and Viv are inspired by their own children to put their differences aside and combine their efforts, as symbolized by the two Christmas trees they join together to form one.


  1. I have never seen The Lucy Show Christmas episode - glad to have it brought up, and have a link to watch as well.

    Great responses, Jim - thank you!

  2. I would add the opening chorus of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" for one that really evokes the holiday mood. And I enjoy the Rosalind Russell version of Auntie Mame but I'm also one of those rare people who actually likes (with a few reservations) the musical film version with Lucille Ball. The song "We Need a Little Christmas" had already become a standard holiday tune by the time the film was released. It's a delightful moment, and it re-energizes the film at a crucial point. And there is one more Jerry Herman Christmas musical that to me seems brimming with holiday spirit--"Mrs. Santa Claus" starring Angela Lansbury (who would have made a perfect Mame on screen if she had been given the chance.)

  3. Thanks for joining in the fun, Jim. I like the Lucy Show Christmas episode too. I'm so pleased I found a clip!