This Sesame Street special from 1978 used to be a staple in our household during the Christmas season (once we got a VCR, we taped it and watched it repeatedly, not just on Christmas Eve). Sadly, it doesn’t air on PBS anymore (at least not in the metro NYC area where I live).
Sesame Street has produced several more updated Christmas specials with the likes of Elmo and Abby, and such guest stars as Ben Stiller (in puppet form), Jamie Foxx, Big Pussy and Paulie Walnuts from “The Sopranos”, and musical guests like Brad Paisley and Alicia Keys, among others. And sure, these newer specials are fun and cute and more timely with the guest stars and pop cultural references (will kids 15 years from now even know who Tony Sirico is?), but I’ll take the 1978 special on a worn-out VHS tape over the newer editions any day of the week.
From the neighbors all singing together on the subway, to the little girl who tries to help Big Bird continue to believe in Santa Claus, after Oscar throws some doubt his way, Cookie Monster trying repeatedly to get in touch with Santa, to Bert and Ernie reenacting their own version of the Gift of the Magi, this is a Christmas special that deserves to be seen for years to come. And it’s a shame that it’s not on regular television, although it is available for purchase on DVD.
The scene of the puppets ice skating was something that totally blew my mind as a kid when I realized “They have legs!?!” Another skating scene shows Big Bird and his little friend Patty skating to José Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad” which is just beautiful.
The original songs written by Sesame Street’s Bob McGrath still bring a nostalgic tear to my eye. Gordon, Susan, Mr. Hooper, Maria, David…everyone, together on the subway signing “True Blue Miracle”; Bob and Linda later singing (and signing) “Keep Christmas with You” with some of the Sesame Street kids; and of course, just so things didn’t get TOO sentimental, Oscar the Grouch’s fun and appropriately titled “I Hate Christmas.”
There’s still time to add the DVD to your collection this Christmas.