19 Of The Best And Worst Rankin Bass Christmas Movies

19 Of The Best And Worst Rankin Bass Christmas Movies

Figure out what which holiday films to watch this Christmas.
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Every year ABC Family has 25 Days of Christmas where they show Christmas themed shows and movies. It's one of the things I look forward to all year but as time has gone on, ABC Family has been showing more and more of its own made for TV Christmas movies and less of the classic Rankin Bass specials I loved as a child. I watch these specials all throughout the year, but there's something really magical about watching them in December when your house is decorated and you're bundled up in blankets drinking hot chocolate.

This year, I've taken it upon myself to watch all 19 Rankin Bass Christmas Specials and rank them from worst to best using a rating system out 30 points. There will be 3 categories each special will be rated on: 1. Holiday Cheer, 2. Music, and 3. Nostalgia.


19. Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey, 1977

Cheer: 4/10

Music: 2/10, 3 songs

Nostalgia: 4/10

Total: 10/30

Whenever I get into the Christmas mood outside of December I typically watch this special because it's super easy to find. I think I may have watched this one too much during the year for me to like it now. It tells the story of Nestor a long-eared donkey (obviously) who after going though some trials becomes the donkey that carries the Virgin Mary to Bethlehem. All though I do love the opening song, "Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey" sung by Roger Miller who was the narrator and sang the majority of the special's musical numbers it's honestly pretty boring and a Rudolph knock-off.


18. The Little Drummer Boy: Book I, 1968

Cheer: 2/10

Music: 3/10, 4 songs

Nostalgia: 5/10

Total: 10/30

Yes! Early stop-motion animation. This is definitely what they do best. Unfortunately this is still pretty early in the game, this was only their 3rd special. It's nice that the Mary and Joseph in this look the same as the Mary and Joseph in Nestor. This whole special is pretty depressing and there isn't any Christmas "magic" till the end. Narrated by Greer Garson, a pretty big name for the time, Drummer Boy is just lacking overall.


17. Cricket on the Hearth, 1967

Cheer: 3/10

Music: 6/10, 9 songs

Nostalgia: 2/10

Total: 11/30

This was my first time watching Cricket, although I had heard of it before. This is the second Rankin Bass special every made and it is hand drawn. The animation is... not very good... at all. But it is interesting because it is based on a little known Charles Dickens story. In the production, a young woman goes blind because she is sad when her beloved dies at sea. The cricket narrator is voiced by Danny Thomas, who also does dome live action segments throughout the special. The saving grace for this one are the songs, none are particulate catchy but there's just so many of them.


16. Frosty's Winter Wonderland, 1976

Cheer: 3/10

Music: 3/10, 2 songs

Nostalgia: 5/10

Total: 11/30

This is the sequel to Frosty the Snowman. This is the first introduction to Crystal, Frosty's wife, and though I like what is done with her in later specials, not much really happens in this one. Jack Frost is the villain here which is kind of lame, he just wants to be appreciated for making the snow that created Frosty and Crystal. Andy Griffith is the narrator, which is a testament that the amazing narrators, Rankin and Bass ,were able to get. Maybe I would have liked it more if it was stop-motion, I'm not really a fan of hand drawn Rankin Bass specials.


15. Santa Baby!, 2001


Cheer: 7/10

Music: 6/10, 12 songs

Nostalgia: 0/10

Total: 13/30

I never ever heard of this one before embarking on this journey into Rankin Bass' history. I honestly thought I had seen all of them. I had no idea there was even a special made this recently. It was the first special Rankin Bass did after a 19 year hiatus. Basically a magical Christmas partridge (a la, a partridge in a pear tree) comes and helps a little girl's dad get over his song writers block. Also there's a lady who runs an animal shelter because animals aren't allowed in the apartments. The bird is played by Patti LaBelle and the little girl's cat is Eartha Kitt, who is also the narrator, which begs the question, why isn't this special amazing? Suzanne Collins, the author of the Hunger Games was one of the writers on this special. Maybe the hand drawn animation is where they went wrong but overall this one is pretty terrible.


14. The Stingiest Man in Town, 1978

Cheer: 7/10

Music: 6/10, 13 songs

Nostalgia: 0/10

Total: 13/30

First time watching this after, again , never hearing of it before. It's actually not that bad, it has good music but it's essentially just a Christmas Carol. I think it would be a lot better if it was stop animation but I'm super biased. I just think that hand drawn Rankin Bass is terrible. Also the narrator is a bug named B.A.H. Humbug... yeah...


13. The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, 1985

Cheer: 7/10

Music: 6/10, 5 songs

Nostalgia: 0/10

Total: 13/30

Finally, this is the last special that I hadn't heard of before. It's based on a 1902 L. Frank Baum book and was the last Rankin Bass Christmas special before they closed their studio in 1987. Santa is raised by a lion and gets stolen by fairy and then they decide to co-parent him. And then he pretty much becomes Santa and gains immortality. I kind of want to read the original book, the story is pretty crazy and the stop-motion in this one (at least for people) is really smooth.


12. The Leprechauns' Christmas Gold, 1981


Cheer: 4/10

Music: 4/10, 4 songs

Nostalgia: 7/10

Total: 15/30

I've only ever seen this on television once. For years, I searched for it so I could find it again. It's just so... weird. Luckily I found it last year and watched it non-stop. This one barely has anything to do with Christmas, but there is a banshee and Leprechauns. It's so terrible, it's entertaining. Also, I died when I heard Christmas in Killarney on my Songza Christmas station.


11. Jack Frost, 1979

Cheer: 5/10

Music: 7/10, 8 songs

Nostalgia: 6/10

Total: 18/30

I watched this quite a lot growing up and rarely during the Christmas season. I don't like it as much as I did when I was little. The plot and songs are kind of lacking, but I'm a sucker for that classic stop-motion. My favorite characters are Kubla Krause and Pardon-Me-Pete, who serves as the narrator and is voiced by Buddy Hackett. He definitely has the best songs. Also, it's not really about Christmas but there is definitely some cheer.


10. Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July, 1979

Cheer: 6/10

Music: 7/10, 12 songs

Nostalgia: 6/10

Total: 19/30

The music score is high for the sheer number of songs, none of them are too memorable but all are fun and sweet. There's not a ton of cheer besides the characters but adds a lot to the Christmas mythology and still has continuity which I love. Ethel Merman plays Lilly Loraine the leader of the circus and again, how they heck did Rankin and Bass get all these amazing stars? Merman is a joy to watch in this.


9. Drummer Boy: Book II, 1976


Cheer: 6/10

Music: 6/10, 3 songs

Nostalgia: 7/10

Total: 19/30

I thought I hadn't seen this one before but I had. I was a lot better than remembered. I absolutely loved Zero Mostel in his role as Brutus and his song Money, Money, Money. This sequel follows the story of Solomon and the silver bells and honestly I think it's really beautiful. By this time, the animation has improved greatly and I really enjoyed it.


8. Frosty the Snowman, 1969

Cheer: 5/10

Music: 6/10, 1 song

Nostalgia: 9/10

Total: 20/30

This is an absolute classic. Again as always I don't really like the animation but it's not as bad as others and it's a lot of fun. Only one song in this one but come on its Frosty the Snowman, you can't not love that. I do wish there were more songs but this was only the 4th special, l so I can understand them not wanting to be so involved with that. This one isn't really about Christmas but it definitely is cheerful.


7. 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, 1974

Cheer: 8/10

Music: 7/10, 3 songs

Nostalgia: 5/10

Total: 20/30

I think this is the only hand drawn Rankin Bass that I really like. When I was younger and watched on television I always hated it and thought that it took too long. I'd get annoyed that it wasn't stop motion. This time, however, I really found myself enjoying it. The story is actually very sweet and I love the songs in it. I'm actually really excited to see this come on television now.


6. The First Christmas: The Story of the First Christmas Snow, 1975

Cheer: 6/10

Music: 5/10, 4 songs

Nostalgia: 10/10

Total: 21/30

I completely forgot about this one!! I remember watching it when I was little and really loving it. This one is about a blind kid and the magic of Christmas snow. Nothing really happens but for me, the nostalgia 100% got me. Also, Angela Lansbury is the narrator in this and I adore her.


5. Rudolph's Shiny New Year, 1976

Cheer: 7/10

Music: 8/10, 8 songs

Nostalgia: 7/10

Total: 22/30

This is getting into the golden era of Rankin Bass Specials. I always really loved this one growing up but I've seen it so many times it was almost played out. The songs are definitely the best part. I find myself singing them all throughout the year. And they got Red Skeleton to play Father Time and serve as the narrator. Seriously, who do I have to call to get all these people that Rankin Bass is able to get?


4. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, 1964


Cheer: 8/10

Music: 7/10, 9 songs

Nostalgia: 8/10

Total: 23/30

This is the one that started it all, the forever classic Rudolph. I don't particularly like the way Santa looks in this one. Obviously they hadn't quite found their stride as the stop-motion is actually quite terrible. Also everyone is kind of a jerk to the misfits in this one and no one really likes them until they figure out that they are useful, it really isn't the best message for children. Still, it is extremely memorable and probably the first special many people watch. I think the misfit toys song is so weird though, that whole part always throws me. Even so, I watch it every year.


3. Pinocchio's Christmas, 1980


Cheer: 8/10

Music: 8/10, 8 songs

Nostalgia: 8/10

Total: 24/30

I remember being 3 years old and watching this for the first time with my mom, so much nostalgia for me. Overall, it's just a really solid special the story is fun and the stop-animation is surprisingly clean. Love the song Knock on Wood. I also think the kid who voices Pinocchio does a really fantastic job. The basic plot is about Pinocchio (while he's still a puppet) experiencing his first Christmas and learning more lessons of what it takes to be a real boy.


2. The Year Without a Santa Claus, 1974


Cheer: 8/10

Music: 10/10, 8 songs

Nostalgia: 8/10

Total: 26/30

This is my second favorite and the only special to get a 10/10 for music. I really love the continuity from Santa Claus is Coming to Town to this. The plot is really cute, basically what would happen if Santa took Christmas off. Heat Miser and Snow Miser really make this one, their songs are always the one's I look forward to every time I watch this special. The one thing I don't get lyric "worst we ever had", are they saying they've had multiple years without Santa or is this the worst year they ever had?


1. Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, 1970


cheer: 9/10

music: 8/10, 7 songs

nostalgia: 10/10

total: 27/30

This. Is. The. Ultimate. Christmas. Special. My absolute favorite. It has everything I love, great songs, great memories associated with it, Fred Astaire as the narrator, Mickey Rooney as Santa, and expansion of the Santa universe. It's just great. This special tells the story of Santa and how he became the way he is. This story could've been really boring but the pacing of the plot and songs make for an hour of fun. I get so excited when it comes on television and I can't wait to watch it again.


*Honorable Mention*

Although they aren't Rankin Bass I also love A Christmas Story, How the Grinch Stole Christmas (live action and animated), and The Polar Express to get me really into the Christmas spirit.

Now get the family together, sip some hot chocolate, and pop on one of these classic films.


Cover Image Credit: http://enchantedworldofrankinbass.blogspot.com/

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15 Things Only Lake People Will Understand

There's no other place you'd rather be in the summer.
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The people that spend their summers at the lake are a unique group of people. Whether you grew up going to the lake, have only recently started going, or have only been once or twice, you know it takes a certain kind of person to be a lake person. To the long-time lake people, the lake holds a special place in your heart, no matter how dirty the water may look. Every year when summer rolls back around, you can't wait to fire up the boat and get back out there. Here is a list of things you can probably identify with as a fellow lake-goer.

1. A bad day at the lake is still better than a good day not at the lake.

It's your place of escape, where you can leave everything else behind and just enjoy the beautiful summer day. No matter what kind of week you had, being able to come and relax without having to worry about anything else is the best therapy there is. After all, there's nothing better than a day of hanging out in the hot sun, telling old funny stories and listening to your favorite music.

2. You know the best beaches and coves to go to.

Whether you want to just hang out and float or go walk around on a beach, you know the best spots. These often have to be based on the people you're with, given that some "party coves" can get a little too crazy for little kids on board. I still have vivid memories from when I was six that scared me when I saw the things drunk girls would do for beads.

3. You have no patience for the guy who can’t back his trailer into the water right.

When there's a long line of trucks waiting to dump their boats in the water, there's always that one clueless guy who can't get it right, and takes 5 attempts and holds up the line. No one likes that guy. One time my dad got so fed up with a guy who was taking too long that he actually got out of the car and asked this guy if he could just do it for him. So he got into the guy's car, threw it in reverse, and got it backed in on the first try. True story.

4. Doing the friendly wave to every boat you pass.

Similar to the "jeep wave," almost everyone waves to other boats passing by. It's just what you do, and is seen as a normal thing by everyone.

5. The cooler is always packed, mostly with beer.

Alcohol seems to be a big part of the lake experience, but other drinks are squeezed into the room remaining in the cooler for the kids, not to mention the wide assortment of chips and other foods in the snack bag.

6. Giving the idiot who goes 30 in a "No Wake

Zone" a piece of your mind.

There's nothing worse than floating in the water, all settled in and minding your business, when some idiot barrels through. Now your anchor is loose, and you're left jostled by the waves when it was nice and perfectly still before. This annoyance is typically answered by someone yelling some choice words to them that are probably accompanied by a middle finger in the air.

7. You have no problem with peeing in the water.

It's the lake, and some social expectations are a little different here, if not lowered quite a bit. When you have to go, you just go, and it's no big deal to anyone because they do it too.

8. You know the frustration of getting your anchor stuck.

The number of anchors you go through as a boat owner is likely a number that can be counted on two hands. Every once in a while, it gets stuck on something on the bottom of the lake, and the only way to fix the problem is to cut the rope, and you have to replace it.

9. Watching in awe at the bigger, better boats that pass by.

If you're the typical lake-goer, you likely might have an average sized boat that you're perfectly happy with. However, that doesn't mean you don't stop and stare at the fast boats that loudly speed by, or at the obnoxiously huge yachts that pass.

10. Knowing any swimsuit that you own with white in it is best left for the pool or the ocean.

You've learned this the hard way, coming back from a day in the water and seeing the flowers on your bathing suit that were once white, are now a nice brownish hue.

11. The momentary fear for your life as you get launched from the tube.

If the driver knows how to give you a good ride, or just wants to specifically throw you off, you know you're done when you're speeding up and heading straight for a big wave. Suddenly you're airborne, knowing you're about to completely wipe out, and you eat pure wake. Then you get back on and do it all again.

12. You're able to go to the restaurants by the water wearing minimal clothing.

One of the many nice things about the life at the lake is that everybody cares about everything a little less. Rolling up to the place wearing only your swimsuit, a cover-up and flip flops, you fit right in. After a long day when you're sunburned, a little buzzed, and hungry, you're served without any hesitation.

13. Having unexpected problems with your boat.

Every once in a while you're hit with technical difficulties, no matter what type of watercraft you have. This is one of the most annoying setbacks when you're looking forward to just having a carefree day on the water, but it's bound to happen. This is just one of the joys that come along with being a boat owner.

14. Having a name for your boat unique to you and your life.

One of the many interesting things that make up the lake culture is the fact that many people name their boats. They can range from basic to funny, but they are unique to each and every owner, and often have interesting and clever meanings behind them.

15. There's no better place you'd rather be in the summer.

Summer is your all-time favorite season, mostly because it's spent at the lake. Whether you're floating in the cool water under the sun, or taking a boat ride as the sun sets, you don't have a care in the world at that moment. The people that don't understand have probably never experienced it, but it's what keeps you coming back every year.


Cover Image Credit: Haley Harvey

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7 Things Only Summer Camp Counselors Understand

Yes, it's possible to adore and hate your campers at the same time.

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I have worked as a daytime summer camp/recreation counselor for the past four summers, and it's the best... and the worst. If you've ever worked at a summer camp, you know what I mean. And there are so many experiences, details, and struggles only we counselors truly understand.

1. THE HEAT. THE UNBEARABLE, UNDYING HEAT.

Our Lord and Savior that is the AC is always either nonexistent or broken, leaving the Sun to beat down upon your and your kids' sweaty, sunburnt faces. While warm temperatures are summer's greatest blessing, at camp, there's no relief. Remember to always pack extra water!

2. Saying you love all of your kids equally, but secretly having favorites.

Yes, yes, yes, you love them all... but quiet Sam with the cute glasses is especially adorable.

3. ... and least favorites.

We have the clingers (the kids who were never taught the concept of personal space), the whiners (the kids who were never taught to walk it off), the sleepers (the lazy and moody kids whose parents forced them to come to camp)... the list goes on and on. Yes, you love them. Do they annoy you? Maybe.

4. Being CRAZY paranoid on field trips.

If a kid goes out of your line of sight or peripheral vision for even a second, you think the WORST. Kidnapped? Killed? Enslaved? These kids cannot disappear on your watch.

5. Having a thing for another counselor.

Even if it doesn't work out, it sure is fun to gaze lovingly across the field at male counselors that are way out of your league. If you're really lucky, you'll end up with a magical but fleeting summer fling.

6. Bonding with your fellow counselors over your love and hatred for kids/camp.

At the end of a long, hard day, there's nothing like complaining to let off some steam. Alternatively, it's also fun to giggle at your shared love for quiet Sam.

7. Realizing you have the best summer job ever.

The lessons and skills you learn at camp will stay with you forever. First aid, conflict resolution, and how to kill boredom are a few. Plus, you're basically being paid to have a fun time with the kids.

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