Childhood Christmas – My Favorite Rankin-Bass Specials

For those are not familiar Rankin-Bass was a movie production company that created animated features. What they are particularly known for is their Christmas Specials, some of which are considered classics even to this day. When I was very young I remember, when December rolled around, we would borrow Rankin-Bass Christmas Specials that my Nana had on VHS tapes. When DVDs became more popular and we were then able to buy our own copies of the Specials. For this list I will be reviewing the Rankin-Bass Christmas Specials that I have watched since I was child since they are the ones I am most familiar with.

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4. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

The very first Christmas Special that Rankin-Bass ever did and this definitely their most memorable of all their Specials. Inspired by a popular song written in 1949 based off a children’s book that was written 10 years before that, it tells the story of Rudolph the Red Nosed who is picked on for nose’s glowing hue of red and how he ultimately saves Christmas by lighting the way for Santa and the other reindeer on a foggy Christmas Eve. It is a simple story but is effective in its message that one’s unique traits can serve a purpose regardless of how others may view them initially.

 

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3. A Year Without a Santa Claus

Based off of a book by the same title, where an under-the-wheather Santa Claus decides it would be better stay home having lost hope that people even care about what he does to prepare for that Christmas Eve sleigh ride. While Santa’s name is in the title he is in some ways a secondary character with Mrs. Claus acting as narrator and the main driving force for the plot. But who really steals the show are the step-brothers Snow and Heat Meiser who perform their own musical numbers praising the snow and heat respectively. While this Special does have the continuity errors (which I will not go into) it contains important lessons about believe and as well as giving.

 

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2. Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town

This is Rankin-Bass’ first attempt at the origin story of Santa Claus taking cues from another popular song of the same title. I have yet to see a better origin story for Santa because they create a great story of how Santa initially started out, all the while answering that probably every young child has raised to their parents regarding this Christmas legend. Raised by toymaker elves after being abandoned by his family and even the authorities, Kris Kringle (as he was called then) decides it is his mission to bring joy and play to the children of Sombertown despite the law that forbids toys. Think Robin Hood, except he makes toys. I enjoy Santa Claus as he is portrayed this feature because he is such a joyful man who gives from his heart even when the circumstances seem bleak.

 

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  1. The Drummer Boy

A simple story again that takes inspiration from a popular song by the same name which follows young drummer boy named Aaron. Having developed a distrust of people since the tragic death of his parents Aaron keeps to himself and his animal companions Joshua the camel, Samson the donkey and Baba the lamb. Well that is until a greedy caravan owner Ben Haramed weasels him into performing for the crowds in the hopes of making a quick buck. After some mishaps they encounter the three kings who are following the star which is guiding to the stable in Bethlehem where the newborn Jesus is lying in the manager. I love how this event is viewed from an outside perspective of the traditional Christmas story and how Aaron’s outlook changes from one of distrust and hate to one of faith and love when he encounters the one who become the Savior of the world.

This will be the first Christmas post of the month of December I hope to do a few more leading up to Christmas, so stayed tuned for updates. Thank so much for reading and Merry Christmas.

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