Christmas Eve and it is not quite midnight. So I have time to write this post before Santa should show up. Although, I spent a lot of my time in my youth waiting up till after midnight and could never catch him.
For a guy in an XXXL red suit, he is remarkably crafty.
The tree is still lit and all the presents are wrapped. So this is a nice time to sit and reflect on the holiday season and to compare it to my holidays past.
What I notice is that while some things have changed about Christmas. One thing has not. I still fall into the camp that prefers Christmas Eve to Christmas Day. My Christmas Eves are quite and still. It is all potential.
Every gift still sit ungiven. I have no idea how it will be received. Tomorrow’s meal? It is just a delicious fantasy. I am sure all of these things will all be as wonderful as I hope they will be, but right now, they are all perfect and dreamy.
This moment, before “the show” starts tomorrow, are my favorite moments of the season and they always have been
When I was a kid, I would sneak down to the tree and lay next to it. Staring at the packages under the lights, I would dream about what was inside. Was it a new GI Joe? Socks? Only the elusive Santa or my parents knew.
Now, I know what is under that tree. I am just waiting to see it all opened and hope that it makes the receiver happy. So I lounge on the couch fantasizing about that, dreaming of perfect Christmases, and swimming in the spirit of a holiday season that is almost over.
It is not a moment I would trade for even the most perfect item on my wishlist. This quiet time is the perfect present.
So I hope everyone out there is enjoying themselves and I hope you are taking time to appreciate what makes you happy. Whatever that may be.
A few “daze” before Christmas, and all through the gameplay front, not a controller was being button-mashed to death, not even a mouse.
Actually, there was controller button-mashing, and all because of a Christmas game!
Phone Apps and Home Alone Emulators
Normally, if one is in the market for a Christmas game, one would turn to Home Alone as their (presumed only) game of choice. But if retro gaming isn’t for them, phone apps where one matches cookies and Christmasy stuff are always available.
And since I wasn’t willing to just play Home Alone (my boyfriend did a gameplay of it a few years ago, and it frustrated him), I sought out something different.
What I found was a game I’d never heard of before. A game where Santa turns potentially threatening toys and oversized rats into harmless presents to collect and drop on cities all over the world, all wrapped up in the bow of a side-scroller game.
That game, you ask? Why, Daze Before Christmas!
Daze Before Christmas
Daze Before Christmas is a 1994 side-scroller developed by Norwegian video game Funcom, and was released to the Sega Mega Drive in 1994 by Sunsoft, exclusively in Australia. A Super Nintendo release occurred in both Australia and Europe, but not in the United States. Daze Before Christmas was one of the last games released by Sunsoft’s United States division.
As Santa, you’re out to conquer the evil snowman who imprisoned your elves and kidnapped your reindeer. Using Awesome Magical Christmas Powers (my words), evil rats and toys become harmless Christmas presents. Santa collects these presents in each level, and drops them over major cities as the player progresses through the game.
The game consists of twenty-four different levels (like an Advent calendar), and pit Santa against the elements – dangerous toy factories, ice caves, snow, The North Pole, and the skies above London.
The game’s colorful graphics and fun visuals are not merely cover for a substandard game. The controls are excellent, and compliment the fun visuals. I tried the first six levels of the game, and I had fun playing what I tried so far. The graphics are very 16-bit, the music Christmas, and it is not Home Alone. That puts it in a good light already!
So, whenever you’re ready, click play below and experience…
Daze Before Christmas
Upload via Allison Venezio / Allison’s Written Words
Two kids whisked off in the middle of the night to Santa’s 1960s living room by an elf in a mini-dress, Santa parade footage, department store sets, and the awful sounds of drowsy Christmas music – all weird, all filmed, and all…very weird?
I was looking for a Christmas short to record commentary onto, and well, I remembered A Visit To Santa.
And I also found this…
My Name In Lights!
And by “lights,” I mean “Wikipedia reference.”
That’s right – my previous article on A Visit To Santa made the film’s Wikipedia article.
I’m just as blown away.
The reference comes at the closing paragraph of the plot section:
As Toby returns to Santa’s living room in preparation for taking the children home, Santa, continuing to sit in his easy chair, tells Dick and Ann, “So glad you came… the entire Christmas celebration is to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ hundreds of years and the wonderful spirit of Christmas…”. Toby then leads the children towards the front camera and out of range, as Santa turns in his chair and, addressing the audience, exclaims, “Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas to all! Merry Christmas!”, with “The END” slide placed on the screen to the sound of the calliope “Jingle Bells”.
I’m #3! I’m #3!
A Visit To Santa Requires Commentary
I know I’m retreading here, but in the spirit of Christmas, goofy short films, and Wikipedia references, I’ve recorded a commentary that tries so hard to be RiffTrax (but never will be), makes a valiant effort to be funny, and loses its earbuds briefly.
That was annoying, folks!
Without further ado, for your Christmas viewing, the 1963 Clem Williams short film, A Visit To Santa…with commentary!
Upload via Allison Venezio / Allison’s Written Words
Well, if you forgot, then your previous Christmas toy (and toys) will be sad.
Timeless Treasures of Christmas
Some Christmas specials remain timeless treasures of years gone by, watched by several generations. The stories are timeless, the songs sung over and over again, and the word “classic” is bandied around. There are other specials that have the look, feel, and makings of a classic holiday tradition, only to mire in obscurity. These specials disappear after airing once, remembered by the children who watched that year, but never witnessed by anyone else thereafter.
This is the story of one such special, remembered fondly by this writer (and those who were old enough to know about it in 1986), but not really by anyone else.
This is the story of The Christmas Toy.
The Christmas Toy
ABC aired The Christmas Toy on December 6, 1986, sponsored by Kraft Foods, produced by the Jim Henson Company, and featuring a Santa suit-clad Kermit the Frog setting the stage.
The story takes place within a playroom, where the toys come to life when no one is around. (I know this sounds unoriginal, but this was nine years before Toy Story, so hear me out). The toys are aware that their fate hinges on not being out of position, as to freeze them forever. This particular evening in the playroom, however, is a Big Deal…it’s Christmas Eve!
Old Balthazar tells the toys that a new toy will join the group after the kids open presents the next day. Of course, this does not sit well with Rugby the Tiger Cub, who will not stand for being replaced as his owner’s favorite Christmas Toy.
And what happens next is a harrowing journey through the quiet hallways of the family home, all in a quest to be the Christmas Toy…now and forever!
It’s quite the adventure, complete with songs, familiar Muppet voices, and the Kraft TV recipes in lieu of actual commercials.
Which brings me to the next thing about this special…
“Celebrate the Season With Kraft!”
Since The Christmas Toy was sponsored by Kraft Foods, the ad space was given over to Kraft. And while they could have just run ads for their products, they took it a step further…
Uploads via Allison Venezio / Allison’s Written Words
(Yes, this was a feature on my blog in December 2015)
Kraft Foods showed off all the amazing recipes one could make with their foodstuffs, thanks to coupons in the Sunday paper, and recipes in that week’s TV Guide.
I particularly loved this…
So you’ve got amazing commercials for amazing yuletide eatings, and a Christmas special that’s all Muppets and Christmas.
So what happened? Why did this disappear into obscurity?
Where Did The Christmas Toy Go?
To answer your question…I have no idea.
The Christmas Toy wound up being a one-and-done special, as primetime Christmas programming goes. The special disappeared from conscious memory for seven years (save for the kids whose parents taped the special in 1986, like mine did), until resurfacing on VHS in 1993, and DVD in 2008, albeit edited for legal reasons to omit Kermit the Frog’s introduction.
You say “legal reasons,” I say “Disney will sue into oblivion.”
Probably wasn’t Disney’s doing (the DVD came out in 2008, and I don’t believe Disney owned The Muppets until a few years later), but someone didn’t want Kermit appearing here!
I’ve never been able to find any reason this special went into obscurity after its initial 1986 airing, but I treasure my recorded VHS of it – so much so, I transferred it to a DVD in 2009 to keep it preserved. I just transferred it to my laptop last night to keep a digital copy as a backup.
And yes, it is that good. The Christmas Toy became a yearly tradition for me for years, even if I watched it by myself. I plan to watch it this year (for the first time since 2009!) to recapture the magic all over again!
As for availability…its almost non-existent.
The DVD is out-of-print (the only way I can explain why a new copy is over $50), and forget YouTube – my last YouTube account was terminated because I uploaded this rare classic. Let’s just say Lionsgate found me out four years later (seriously, four years!).
To The Wayside…Like Last Year’s Christmas Toy!
I’m not ok with the “fall to the wayside” treatment The Christmas Toy got since its release. Among Muppet/Jim Henson specials, this one has the makings of a classic. I can assume it may have been Kraft’s sponsorship that has kept it from airing again. Perhaps this was meant to be a one-and done deal? I’m not sure, but I do know this…it’s not right.
I can’t stress that enough, apparently.
The story of hoping to be loved forever, and the lengths one will go (even when it is unnecessary) when that love is doubted makes for a timeless story. If you have an original print of the special, consider yourself lucky, and cherish it. Please, make a copy of your VHS, just keep it well preserved.
Like the toys in the special, The Christmas Toy deserves to be loved too.
Look, I Found A Clip!
If you truly want to get a song stuck in your head the rest of the day, may I recommend this clip?
Upload via LionsgateVOD
I did a four-part series on the Kraft TV Recipes on my blog in 2015, if you’re feeling particularly empowered to read them!