Every year many of us gather around the television in December to watch Christmas special after Christmas special. While many have grown accustomed to watching Rudolph and Frosty over and over again, I've grown somewhat tired of the same old specials every year. This made me think about Christmas specials overall and made me curious as to why we haven't had a truly memorable Christmas special from this decade.
Christmas specials are still being made by people to this day, but almost non have achieved the same cultural impact that classics like Rudolph, Frosty, and the various versions of "A Christmas Carol". Most of the Christmas specials that stood the test of time were ones that were already based on popular stories and songs. They were already popular before their television specials, so when they made the transition to television they already had a somewhat established audience with a sense of familiarity with the story and characters. This made it easier for these specials to stay in our minds and survive from generation to generation.
Most of the newer specials are based off of popular films that have a Holiday "flavor" added to them, such as "Kung Fu Panda Holiday" and "Gift of the Night Fury". While many of these specials are well regarded among fans of the films they are based around, people outside the fandom have little knowledge of their existence which makes it hard to break out into the mainstream Christmas zeitgeist like the older specials did. The older specials also had the benefit of being some of the few pieces of Christmas television available.
Today we live in a very media saturated world compared to that of the 1960s. We have an almost limitless amount of films, television, books, and video games available to us through cable, streaming services, and physical media. While this massive amount of media has led to an increase in variety and creativity, it has also made it hard for any one piece of media to make an impact in the mainstream for an extended period of time. Usually when something comes out that grabs the public's attention, they discuss it for a while and them move on to a newer piece of media.
Christmas specials on television have been going on for as long as televisions have existed. Almost all of the specials people watch around this time come from the 60s and 70s. This article came from my desire to see newer specials with fresh ideas break into the mainstream and become a new traditional staple of Christmas. Many of the older specials are starting to show their age and we are starting to crave something new. We want to see what ideas and thoughts about the holiday can be expressed by the younger generation through the specials they make. If anything else it would be a nice change of pace from having to watch Rudolph and Frosty for the trillionth time and create new traditions for future generations of kids.