It Used To Look A Lot Like Christmas on TV

It Used To Look A Lot Like Christmas on TV

Christmas is over. I barely saw it coming. I barely saw it going. Heck, I barely noticed when it was here. As an adult, I spend most of my time working and so don’t really notice Christmas until December 25th, if then.

But it wasn’t always that way. In my earlier years, I was not only more interested in Christmas than I am now (it was, after all, the one time of year I could ask for big ticket items like new video game systems) but I had more time to enjoy Christmas than I do now. Not only did I not work in those years, but I was also given two blessed weeks off of school to celebrate the December holidays. Since Christmas usually fell sometime during the first of those two weeks, often during the tail end, this gave me several days to anticipate the holiday. The TV, my window to the world in those pre-internet years, was a big help in this endeavor. It kept Christmas constantly before me both in the days before and the days often. It did this not only through the many specials, TV movies, and Christmas-themed series episodes we’ve already mentioned (here, here, and here), but it did it in a few other ways as well.

One of these ways was game show decorations. I rarely got to watch game shows during the school year; I was in class when they were on. But during Christmas break, I watched nothing but game shows from 10 AM to noon. At that time, these game shows would decorate their sets with the usual Christmas. They would also bring out some special Christmas graphics such as you see in this clip:

(Yes, I know this clip isn’t retro, but it is representative of what I saw in the retro era.)

Another way was soap operas. I wasn’t able to watch soap operas during the school year, either, and I wasn’t as interested in them as I was in game shows. But I couldn’t help catching some of them, and when I did, I always saw Christmas decorations and plots.

Sports broadcasts helped out here as well. I wasn’t a big sports watcher back then, but if I did catch a game during this time, I would see that the normal score and time graphics had been modified with Christmas themes. There would also be special holiday greetings from the players as well as military personnel, and shots of the production crew to boot. The pre and post shows also had decorated sets, as you see here.

(Again, this isn’t retro, but it was the best representative I could find of what I saw in the retro era.)

Beyond that, many TV commercials had Christmas themes, and some commercials only came out at Christmastime.

Add all these things to the Christmas specials, TV movies, series episodes, and Dick Clark’s Rocking New Years Eve, and what you had was a blitz which kept Christmas constantly before the average latchkey kid like myself. That blitz not only built up the holiday, making it truly seem like the greatest day of the year, but it also added to the holiday and brought me down from the holiday. There really was nothing like watching TV during those two weeks off school. It was special, and I miss it terribly today.


Doug is a child of the 80s who was raised in Ohio and is now living the life of oblivion in the bay area of California.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Great point Doug, I miss the days when everything on TV was a lush glittery garland en-robed spectacle. Still see a lot of Xmas on TV, but I think it is diluted due to changes in marketing strategy for commercials and of the massive growth in programming by volume.

  2. We see a lot, but we also make sure to catch all the specials, holiday episodes, parade, movies, etc, that we want to see. Christmastime is in full force from Thankgiving to New Year’s Day here, we celebrate the entire season!

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