While we’re heading into a new decade and a brand new year, the holidays are a perfect time to reminisce about the (possibly imaginary) past, when families gathered around the fireplace, roasting chestnuts, and watched their favorite Christmas specials on TV.
And these days, with so much “bah, humbug!” in politics, thinking about a memorable Christmas moment from one of your most cherished TV series may be exactly what it takes to rediscover that festive spirit. We talked to celebrities about their favorite Christmas-themed TV episodes and holiday specials. Here are 10 of their treasured programs for you to watch after you unwrap the presents and get the roast in the oven.
‘This Is Us’
I loved my Christmas episode of “This Is Us” with Denis O’Hare, when my character, William, invites Jesse over to meet the family, and his granddaughter (played by Eris Baker) is the first to notice he’s gay. With children, it doesn’t matter that you are different— the way she mentions it to her dad, Randall (Sterling K. Brown), is like, “Get hip, Dad!” That was great.
— Ron Cephas Jones (“Truth Be Told”)
‘A Very Brady Christmas’
I loved “A Very Brady Christmas” special, because my dad, Lewis Arquette, was Sam the Butcher, dressed as Santa Claus. I’ve seen the “Brady Bunch” Christmas special a million times. We all loved watching it, as my dad as Santa on television was just amazing. How could you not love “The Brady Bunch”?
— David Arquette (“Mob Town,” “WWE Backstage”)
‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’
“A Charlie Brown Christmas” is my favorite. It incorporates all things Christmas, from friendship to redemption to the true and meaningful spirit of the holiday. I remember watching it on our television with my brother every year. And the popcorn scene! I think I’ve always been a Sally. But then, to watch it every year with my own children is just priceless.
— Sutton Stracke (“The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”)
“A Charlie Brown Christmas” is a show that I will watch every holiday until I’m 100. I always wanted to go for an evening walk on a moonlit night with snow falling and just have “Christmas Time Is Here” playing in the background, just like Charlie Brown.
—Diana Maria Riva (“Dead to Me,” “Sunnyside,” “Noelle”)
‘The Andy Williams Christmas Show’
I really loved “The Andy Williams Christmas Show” from the 1960s! Watching it was so wonderful. Also, in my “Batman” 1966 series, in almost every episode, Batman and Robin would climb up a building and our guest star would open the window. It was a great way to get a celebrity on the show, as so many famous people wanted to appear. So for the Christmas episode, it’s Santa who opens the window — and everyone on set was of course on their best behavior, including me!
— Burt Ward (star of the original “Batman” TV series )
‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’
I love the “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” Christmas special. The message of a misfit reindeer feeling like he doesn’t fit in is a great theme for kids. Everyone needs to find that place and those friends that make them feel accepted.”
— Tia Carrere (“AJ and the Queen”)
I’ve always loved “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Growing up gay in rural Pennsylvania in the 1970s, I really related to the idea of a misfit rising up and saving the day. I mean, I’ve had Hermey the Elf’s hairstyle ever since! Although I never wanted to be a dentist.
— Carson Kressley (“Wrap Battle,” “RuPaul’s Drag Race;” “25 Words or Less,” “Nashville Squares”)
My favorite Christmas episode is of course when “The Nanny” went to Israel with the Sheffields to work on a kibbutz! In 1993, I was the first Jewish actor to play an openly Jewish character in a lead role in prime time, since Molly Goldberg in 1949 [“The Goldbergs”]. When the network requested a Christmas episode, it only seemed right that on the kids’ holiday school break we all go to Israel where Christ walked!”
— Fran Drescher (“Indebted”)
‘The Facts of Life’
My favorite holiday-themed “Facts of Life” episode was “Christmas in the Big House,” because it reminded us that there are many for whom Christmas is not “merry” and to be sensitive to that. Also, I remember every Christmas Eve at my grandmother’s house. I have two girl cousins and we are all a year apart. We would open gifts as a family and then we would all watch the Rankin/Bass shows, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Frosty the Snowman.” Then we would all go outside and see who could spy the sleigh in the sky!”
— Lisa Whelchel (Blair on “The Facts of Life,” host of MeTV’s “Collector’s Call”)
‘Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas’
I loved “Little Drummer Boy” performed by David Bowie and Bing Crosby on the “Merrie Olde Christmas” television special, which aired in 1977. I don’t know a Christmas without watching this magical pairing every year. The look, the feel and the vibe of the set is my dream Christmas room. It genuinely feels like these two gentlemen really hit it off. Their voices gel so well; they sing together with such a gentle ease, like they’ve been performing with each other for years. People don’t lean against the piano and sing like this as much anymore.”
— P.J. Byrne (“Big Little Lies,” “Black Lightning”)