‘Tis the Christmas TV Season

It’s December, and you know what that means. Yes, it’s the time of year when almost every TV show does a Christmas episode. Jamie Oliver will tell us how to make a smashing Christmas dinner with an eggplant and a pomegranate, home reno programs will tell us how to make a Christmas tree from an old shoebox, and sit-coms and dramas will have us laughing and crying over a festive storyline.

As I live in Australia, where it’s warm and sunny at Christmastime (usually), you won’t see snowmen, reindeer, Santa or elves in this post; but you will see three of my favourite Christmas episodes.

No. 3 - A Very Fonzie Christmas

Fonzie (Henry Winkler) & Richie (Ron Howard)

The episode Guess Who’s Coming to Christmas first screened in December 1974, but it’s still as relevant today. If you’ve ever watched Happy Days, you’ll know that Fonzie, played by Henry Winkler, is the most popular character. He’s cool, he has lots of friends, and he always has a girl on each arm. 

Nobody would ever expect him to be alone for Christmas. In fact, he tells the gang that he’s catching the bus later that afternoon to go and spend Christmas with his cousin. However, when Richie goes back to the garage where Fonzie works, he spots him heating a can of ravioli by himself.

One thing leads to another, and Fonzie ends up spending Christmas Eve with the Cunninghams. When they gather for dinner, Mr Cunningham asks Fonzie if he’d like to say grace. At first, Fonzie looks uncomfortable. But then after everyone has bowed their heads to pray, Fonzie just looks up to heaven and says, ‘Hey God … thanks!’ Click the following link to watch a 5-min clip from the episode.

Fonzie’s Christmas

Christmas is a wonderful time of family celebrations for many, but this episode reminds us that that’s not the case for everyone. Some people might be on our radar, such as those who live alone or have experienced a bereavement, but there are also the ‘invisibly’ alone, like Fonzie. It might seem like they are popular and have it all together, but they might lack a special friend or partner, they may be estranged from their families, or they could have experienced rejection in its various forms.

It doesn’t take much to extend a hand of friendship during the holiday season. You may even be a reason for them giving thanks to God.

No. 2 - Penny Gives Sheldon a Gift

In The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon is socially awkward and not a touchy-feely person by any stretch of the imagination. In the second-season episode, The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis, he is slightly miffed when he finds out that his neighbour Penny is going to give him a Christmas gift. He understands the reciprocity principle, but how will he know what to buy Penny if he doesn’t know how much she’s spent on him? With the help of his equally nerdy friends, he comes up with a foolproof plan!

Sheldon (Jim Parsons) & Penny (Kaley Cuoco)

He’ll buy a whole stack of toiletry gift baskets of different value. Then when he opens Penny’s gift, he’ll estimate the cost, give her the basket of approximately equal value, and return the others to the store. Perfect!

The only problem is that Penny’s gift far exceeds what he was expecting. When he first opens the gift box, it looks like an ordinary napkin … until he turns it over and sees a personal message addressed to him from his idol, Leonard Nimoy who played Spock in the original Star Trek.

Leonard Nimoy as Spock

Penny explains that the actor came into the restaurant where she works. Not only did he sign the napkin, but he also wiped his mouth on it. Sheldon is absolutely beside himself, declaring, ‘All I need is a healthy ovum and I can grow my own Leonard Nimoy.’ Overwhelmed with the magnitude of Penny’s gift, he goes into his bedroom and returns with all of the gift baskets and puts them in front of Penny. When she asks what he’s doing, he says, ‘I know. It’s not enough, is it?’ You can watch a film clip of that scene at the following link: Penny’s gift 

That clip is hilarious, but poignant, at the same time. If you watch the show, you know that Sheldon is a little odd and has trouble making friends, so it’s an amazing miracle for him to give Penny a hug. You or I might not be so excited about getting a used napkin, but to Sheldon, it’s the most amazing gift anyone could give him. It’s not about the monetary value, but the heart value.

No. 1 - A Christmas Baby for Dibley

The oddballs of the little village of Dibley are always good for a laugh, but there is more than one cause for joy in The Vicar of Dibley episode called Winter.  Vicar Geraldine Granger talks the villagers into putting on a Nativity play for Christmas and they eagerly try out for the different roles. The ditzy and heavily-pregnant Alice is a shoe-in for the role of Mary. However, the play becomes a little too realistic when Alice gives birth in the middle of the performance. The onlookers certainly got their money’s worth! You can watch a clip of the key moments at the following link: Alice gives birth

Vicar Geraldine Granger (Dawn French)

Okay, so a teeny bit of poetic licence may have been taken in that episode, but it does focus on the essence of the historic Christmas story.  Christmas isn’t Santa’s birthday; and it’s not just a work holiday, a generic festive season, or a time to count how many gifts are under the tree.

Christmas is the time when we celebrate the greatest gift of all—the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. During this holiday season, may we reflect His love, peace and joy on this earth and help make the world a kinder place.

Now over to you. What are your favourite Christmas episodes and why? I’d love to hear your examples.

Synchro Blog - Other Christmassy Posts

I wrote this post as part of a Synchro Blog with some others in my Christian writing groups. Everyone has addressed a Christmas theme, but with different emphases. You might like to have a look at some of these. (And one more will be added later after some technical glitches are sorted.)

God’s Presence in the Ordinary by Susan Barnes

Unto Us a Child is Born by Steph Penny

Keeping the Wonder by Dienece Darling

Photo Credits

Featured photo of Christmas ornaments by minfl3 on Pixabay; and Nativity illustration by Jeff Jacobs on Pixabay. All other images from Wikimedia Commons and in the public domain. The photo of Jim Parsons and Kaley Cuoco is an edited version of an image taken by iDominick at PaleyFest 2013 that originally appeared on Flickr. The image of Dawn French is an edited version of a photo by Frank Blackwell taken at the ‘Make Poverty History March’, 2005. The images from Happy Days and Star Trek were published in the US prior to 1977 without a copyright notice, photographers unknown.


10 Responses

  1. Some good choices. I have some good memories of the Big Bang Theory and Vicar of Dibley episodes. I would also have to add something from Doctor Who, which has done plenty of Christmas specials, some better than others. As has Keeping Up Appearances.

    1. Thanks for that, Adam. I was initially going to do a Dr Who episode, but couldn’t narrow it down. That might have to be a separate post sometime. My two favourite ones that I can remember would be the one where Kylie Minogue saves the lives of everyone by sacrificing her own life on the Titanic-like space cruise. Right up until that moment, I wondered if she was going to be the new companion. The other would be the Christmas Carol one where the Scrooge character had the love of his life in some sort of cryogenic chamber and she came out every Christmas to sing a song. It’s been a while since I’ve seen either of those, so I might have to watch them again to refresh my memory. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Well, you have given me a good laugh as I sit here contemplating. Don’t watch much TV, but I play Handel’s Messiah at full volume a few times during December. Love it. Good messages in those clips. Thanks Nola.

    1. Thanks for that, Barbara. You probably have some interesting Nativity play stories from your time in ministry, but I’m guessing you never had a live birth in any of them. And Handel’s Messiah is always good to get the blood pumping. So stirring, and reminds us of the real meaning of Christmas. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  3. I do love a good Christmas episode! Thanks for highlighting the moments behind the story for us to consider, especially the part about Fonzie (the one person you’d never expect) being alone. We can get so caught up in our own Christmases we forget to check on others.
    I also appreciated the reminder about Who this season is really about. Thank you!

    1. Thanks for that, Dienece. I always remembered that episode with Fonzie, but when I rewatched that clip before writing my post, I found myself getting weepy all over again. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in our own Christmas plans that we can forget to check in on others. That episode was a good reminder for me too. Thanks for commenting.

  4. Thanks Nola for this pleasant walk down memory lane! I never watched Happy Days, but I’m a big fan of The Big Bang Theory and Vicar of Dibley, and both of those episodes are hilarious! My all-time fave Christmassy episode has to be Vicar of Dibley (again), but the earlier one, when she does the Christmas lunch crawl with disastrous consequences. Too much of a good thing! Thanks also for bringing it all back to Jesus, who inspires the love and kindness we share.

    1. Thanks Steph. I’m guessing you may have been too young to have watched Happy Days in its prime, which makes me feel old – LOL So many great episodes. I did think about that Christmas lunch episode from the Vicar too. Very funny. I was initially going to do my Top 5, but there was a lot to unpack with just these three. I might need to make this an annual thing. Thanks for commenting.

  5. Thanks for giving me a good laugh, Nola! I don’t think I’d seen any of those episodes before. Thanks for sharing and bringing out a spiritual concept with each one.

    1. Thanks Susan. I’m glad you enjoyed them. I was originally going to do more, but when I thought about it, there was a lot to get out of each one. So many good Christmas episodes in amongst the mediocre ones, and I do prefer the ones that touch on the real meaning of Christmas rather than Santa. Thanks for commenting.

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