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A Cartoon Christmas: My Top 5 Christmas Cartoons

Nothing is more endearing (or enduring) than a Christmas cartoon.  I know it's sacrilege, but I really don't like the "iconic" Christmas specials Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  Maybe they were before my time, but I just never dug those.  I think the claymation creeped me out and I hated the elves... but no holiday spawns more television specials to choose from than Christmas.

I know this may be just another "Top 5" article, but I feel like those types of articles give me the ability to mention a bunch of different topics that may spark a memory or emotion in you (and myself!) as we all take a road trip down our memory highway into yesteryear.

5.  The Simpson's - "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire"

This may be an odd choice for 5th place, and heck, it may not even be in your top 10 or even 100... but this is an important one to me.  Technically, this episode was to be the eighth episode of the series but has the distinction of being the very first episode of The Simpsons to air back in December of 1989.  It also has the honor of being the only Simpson's episode to air during the 80's.  This episode is funny and heartwarming and was nominated for two Emmy Awards and was viewed by 13.4 million people on it's very first airing!  Try getting that many people with ANY show today let alone a brand new cartoon.

In this episode, Homer Simpson discovers he won't be getting a Christmas bonus and has no money to buy presents for his family after spending money to get Bart's tattoo removed.  Deciding to keep his financial troubles a secret Homer goes out and gets a job as a shopping mall Santa Claus.  Desperate for a miracle, Homer and Bart go to the dog-racing track on Christmas Eve in hopes of earning some money but end up adopting a sad abandoned greyhound that they named Santa's Little Helper.  Even though Homer didn't have presents for his family, having Homer back home and adopting the dog was enough for his family to have a happy Christmas.

4.  How The Grinch Stole Christmas 

How the Grinch Stole Christmas was animated and produced by Chuck Jones, a name synonymous with classic "Golden Age" animation.  Jones is primarily known for his work with Looney Tunes and Bugs Bunny.  He was tasked with bringing Dr. Seuss' classic Christmas Story to life and made everyone fall in love with the angry, grumpy, wonderfully evil Grinch.  I first remember seeing this show in grade school during the final days before Christmas when the teacher had given up on teaching and rolled the TV/VCR into class.

This special features quality animation, a great musical score, and the good Christmas messaging that makes a timeless classic.  It teaches young and old alike that Christmas isn't about the material things but the important time spent and love shared with family and friends.  Do NOT waste your time watching the live action version featuring Jim Carey... or the 2018 DreamWorks remake for that matter.

3.  Disney's "Toy Tinkers" & "Pluto's Christmas Tree"

These animated shorts from Walt Disney debuted in 1949 and 1952, respectively.  I combine them into one entry here because that's how I often view them on my Mickey's Christmas DVD and most Disney fans consider them loosely connected anyway since they both feature Chip and Dale, my two absolute favorite Disney cartoon characters.  "Toy Tinkers" is a Donald Duck short and, despite the name, "Pluto's Christmas Tree" is actually a Mickey Mouse cartoon.

In "Toy Tinkers," Chip and Dale sneak into Donald's house after seeing him chop down a Christmas tree.  When they decide to stay in the tree due to it's indoor warmth and abundance of nuts, Donald angrily tries to rid himself of the duo.  Disguised as Santa Claus, Donald launches his attack in several hilarious schemes.  Chip and Dale in the long run get the better of Donald but not before destroying his living room.  As the name implies, Chip and Dale interact and "tinker" with bunch of Christmas toys in vital combat sequences.  It's not high on Christmas tropes but does feature timeless Disney characters and centers around Christmas time.

"Pluto's Christmas Tree" once again features Chip and Dale as they invade Mickey and Pluto's home.  The cartoon opens with Mickey and Pluto searching for a Christmas tree.  Chip and Dale begin pestering Pluto who, as luck would have it, chases the chipmunks up into the same tree Mickey has picked for Christmas.  As Mickey and Pluto decorate the tree, the chipmunks enjoy their new surroundings.  Pluto takes note as the duo begin chowing down on a bowl of nuts found on the fireplace mantle.  Since Pluto is unable to speak, he's frustrated both by Chip and Dale and his inability to communicate to Mickey that the two have invaded their home.  Chip and Dale are a bit more mean spirited in this cartoon but it's still a funny and cute Christmas episode.

Since I don't know when I'll ever mention it again, these two Chip and Dale episodes, along with the non-Christmas related "All in a Nutshell" and "Mickey's Trailer," are my favorite of the classic Disney cartoons.

2.  Garfield's Christmas

Nothing screams 1990's like Garfield and this special gets a lot of playtime at my house around Christmas time.  This may very well be my wife's favorite Christmas special based on the adorable animation of their tiny little car on the road trip to Mom's house.  Granny's crazy antics opposite her heartfelt memories of her late husband and better times long gone by make us both laugh and get a little misty eyed at the same time.

This is a great cartoon that shares some laughs as well as the general theme of Christmas.  While it's a sign of Garfield's lack of popularity that I can never seem to find this on television, we put in the DVD frequently as I mentioned before.  Odie shows us all the true meaning of Christmas as he goes out of his way to show Garfield how much he cares for him by building him a back scratcher.  While it's not much, it's the thought that counts.

1.  Charlie Brown's Christmas

No one can say this special fails to stand up against the test of time.  It's been around since 1965.  The soundtrack from Vince Guaraldi alone is enough to hit me right in the feels.  The music alone is so popular you can even hear it on the radio every year as Christmas approaches.  Many people don't like this film, especially critics from 1965, as Linus recites several passages from The Bible on the true meaning of Christmas.

This is probably the main reason I love this little cartoon.  It provides the religious meaning behind Christmas without being downright preachy and insulting.  Consider it Charles Schulz' way of saying Christmas isn't about how many presents under the tree or how many lights you can put on the house.  The production values are admittedly low and every voice actor was a child, but despite that I just love this.  Christmas officially has started when I've seen Charlie Brown and the cast sing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing."  It is one of the very few shows I actually try to catch live on TV when it's aired every year, and if you are so inclined, this year (2019) Charlie Brown's Christmas will be airing on ABC Thursday, December 5th at 8pm Eastern.