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I used to set my Christmas clock by the date that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer appeared on national TV (one of the 4 -- count em FOUR -- TV networks back then - PBS being the politically correct stepsister and beloved home of Mr. Rogers and Frontline)...
If you are of a certain age, you might recall the evil Winter Warlock and the Burgermeister Meisterburger? And the Abominable Snowman? And better yet, the better Grinch (I'm sorry, but Jim Carrey just doesn't measure up to the original animation, nor can Max the fearless dog or Cindy Lou Who).
For those of us celebrating a Christian holiday tradition, the Little Drummer Boy might have hit a home run. (Good tunes either way). And I still am bowled over by "A Charlie Brown Christmas" as Linus lisps Sedaris-like from Luke:
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
I used to watch these shows, teary eyed, looking mistily at the Christmas tree as I geared up for the big day. But wait... there were more tears to be shed in front of the tube....
As I approached the same awkward adolescence of daughter Erin Walton, we were treated to The Homecoming, the first of the Walton installations made famous by sassy red-headed Elizabeth's recitation of the shortest verse in the Bible: "Jesus wept" - in her successful ploy to score a Christmas doll. (Sadly the doll turned out to be a dud, in the true spirit of "Christmas isn't just about the presents.".) Grandpa Walton's mysterious "recipe" holds equally fond Christmas memories. Both the recipe and Elizabeth would maintain their prominence throughout the series, with Elizabeth's weekly bidding Bonsoir to the extended family just south of Charlottesville. "Night John Boy, Night Mary Ellen, Night Grandpa...." (Funny, I don't recall her ever saying night to Ben or Erin?)
The penultimate tear jerker, and my one most HIGHLY recommended Christmas reads and views for families of all ages, is A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote, where once again alcohol plays a prominent place in the popularity of the gifted fruitcakes and the baking thereof. Capote's short story, and then the ABC Special with Geraldine Page, are among the best of all Christmas traditions one can partake, with the vivid memories of rum-soaked fruitcakes, faraway heroes, the challenges of growing up while losing loved ones to life's twists and turns.
Finally, no holiday movie tradition is complete without invoking "It's A Wonderful Life," shared with our family by very good friends and neighbors who celebrate hallowed Christmas traditions with red and Dartmouth green gusto. Guardian Angel Clarence said it best:
"Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?"
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My dog Tucker, protesting Uggie's shutout