For many circles of families and friends, watching holiday and Christmas episodes of their favorite shows is a tradition, often made all the better with a buffet of treats, sweets and holiday-themed drinks.
If your repertoire of holiday specials has been the same for years, it may be time to add some fresh holiday spirit to your viewings with these Christmas TV episodes, from classics of the 1950s to today's shows.
Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV and YouTube all have a wide variety of classic Christmas episodes available at your fingertips. Here are some of the episodes voted as the best Christmas episodes of all time:
"I Love Lucy": In 1956, a special holiday episode of "I Love Lucy" featured the Ricardos and the Mertzes reminiscing as they decorate the tree. This episode is said to have introduced a brand-new concept: the flashback scene, something we see very often today, but surely wowed audiences back then. It was also colorized and rerun twice by CBS after Lucille Ball passed away.
"The Lucy Show": In this 1962 episode, Lucy Carmichael and Vivian Bagley, mothers struggling to raise their three kids, argued laughably over what kind of Christmas tree to get. When they can't agree, they wind up with two Christmas trees in the living room, which leads to slapstick comedy as the duo hack the limbs off each other's trees and break ornaments, until carolers arrive to return them to a Christmas of calm and peace.
"The Andy Griffith Show": Considered one of the best Christmas episodes ever for instilling the true sense of Christmas, Andy and Elinore sing an acoustic rendition of "Away in a Manger," and a town scrooge learns some lessons about the meaning of the season.
In the 1970s, Christmas episodes came with those fabulous-to-look-at-now 70s fashions and hairstyles that will amuse kids today. A Christmas episode of "That Girl" has Ann Marie stuck at a boys' home where she worked, leading to a bittersweet lesson about helping those in need, and offering a sense of family and heart to those who feel forgotten at this time of year.
"The Mary Tyler Moore Show": In 1970, Mary was stuck at work on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but her co-workers showed up in the middle of the night to bring some joy to her. This special holds yet another message of finding family in a circle of friends on the holiday.
"Happy Days": Their "Guess Who's Coming to Christmas" episode in 1974 had Fonzie missing the bus home, facing the sad reality that he would have to spend Christmas alone. It took a unique twist on togetherness by offering a more heartbreaking look at those who do have to spend the holidays without loved ones.
"30 Rock": "Ludachristmas" has been named on many best-of television viewing lists, with holiday-crazed mobs threatening the Rockefeller Christmas tree, family dysfunction, and Kenneth's lesson about the real meaning of Christmas. The fast-paced show mirrors the fast pace of the holiday season, with sharp wit and sentiment blending into the perfect holiday television gift.
"Arrested Development": "Afternoon Delight" takes on the wild weirdness of the Christmas party, with that's-so-not-right humor delivered in karaoke songs and social awkwardness aplenty as the concept of 'laughing with you, not at you' comes to the forefront.
"Friends": "The One With the Routine" has Monica and Ross working to perfect their junior high school dance routine for tryouts as a spotlight dance on "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve." As they twirl, Rachel, Chandler and Phoebe search for the presents Monica got them.
"The Office": Again, we get invited to a Christmas party, with plenty of Jim and Pam relationship gold, Secret Santa gifts and a lampshade on someone's head. "It's happening!" will become your family's new catchphrase.
"Community": "Regional Holiday Music" puts the study group in an excellent musical for Annie fans. And Abed's insightful "I guess I just like liking things" is so honest and true for this time of year.
"The Wonder Years": Have plenty of tissues on hand. Winnie mourns her brother, who was killed the year before in Vietnam, set to the song 'River' by Joni Mitchell. It's a tearjerker. And Kevin and Wayne beg their father for a television set, but not all Christmas wishes get answered. This episode definitely qualifies as an important one for the kids to see.
Yes, these older episodes will seem a bit slower than you remember, and your kids may not immediately connect with long-ago humor. But the lessons are pure gold, and it's nice to invite these iconic characters into your home once again.