For this edition of Retro Ramblings, we’re gonna talk about what I refer to as the greatest holiday special of all time. You know, the one with the talking mice, ducks, and crickets. I’m talking about Mickey’s Christmas Carol, and the special place it holds in my memories.
Mickey’s Christmas Carol debuted on December 10, 1984, as a prime-time special on NBC. Maybe I actually watched it that year, but I can’t really say. I do know that if that wasn’t my first viewing, then it would have been the 1985 showing or 1986 at the latest. Checking the Google machine, I see that day was a Monday. I kind of distinctly remember watching it on a Sunday night. But maybe that’s just the eggnog talking.
None of those facts are really important to the story though. Let’s just all agree that I watched this near its infancy, and have watched it most years since then. It may be the oldest Christmas tradition I have. I’d have to think about that actually to confirm.
But let’s get into the meat and potatoes of why I love this special so darn much. The short answer is nostalgia. I have vivid and colorful memories of my whole family sitting down to watch this together. Most likely because I would have been in the 6-8-year-old range when I first saw it, so I’d say I was vocal about wanting to see it.
That nostalgia encompasses more than just the special though. It’s the whole experience. A fire going in the fireplace in the living room…me in my pajamas…my Dad cracking pecans and walnuts for us to snack on, followed by those Andes Toffee Thins that only come out at Christmas…maybe some snow falling outside…and Christmas themed commercials. All of it together is why I love Mickey’s Christmas Carol so much.
Besides all the warm fuzzy feelings I associate with it, the actual special itself is stupendous. And I’m talking about the entire special, not just the actual Mickey’s Christmas Carol feature. You’ve got to see the whole thing and breathe it all in. Donald’s Snow Fight, Pluto’s Christmas Tree, The Art of Skiing, and Mickey’s Christmas Carol. In later years, Disney and/or the networks would bastardize it by removing Goofy’s skiing feature and replacing it with looks at whatever new movie they had in the works. That was a horrible decision in my opinion. Give me Goofy falling off the ski lift any day over behind-the-scenes photos from The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
To me, they were all heartwarming tales. Donald and his nephews waging all-out war in their snowball fight, Chip & Dale causing havoc with Pluto by hiding in the Christmas tree, Goofy being his silly self on the ski slopes, and then the main event of Disney’s re-telling of the quintessential Christmas fictional classic.
I’ll give you the fact that the extremely shortened version of A Christmas Carol left out a lot of parts, but damn, the art and the rich colors kinda make you forget those details. And at the end when Scrooge finds the Christmas spirit and is bouncing all around town…it just gets me right in the feels.
And I mentioned earlier the commercials…so much Christmas goodness just oozes from those commercials. They came across as necessary additions to the whole thing. Especially that McDonald’s one with the kid who gets left behind while everyone else is skating on the pond. A night of watching Mickey’s Christmas Carol just isn’t complete if that commercial isn’t in there somewhere.
So I put Mickey’s Christmas Carol right at the top of my list when it comes to Christmas viewing. Hell, I put it in my top ten of all-time things I’ve ever watched on TV. And I saw the twin referee angle in the Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant match. That shit was crazy at the time. This is above THAT!
Unfortunately, you’ll no longer find a version of the entire thing like it was originally presented. And it’s usually the Art of Skiing skit that continues to get dropped every time a new release drops. I was really hoping that Disney+ would somehow piece the whole original concept together and air it, but no luck so far. Actually, I can’t even find Donald’s Snow Fight on the service yet either.
But if you look around the ‘net enough, you’ll find all the pieces and can watch it kind of how it was originally intended. Hell, you can even find that McDonald’s commercial to throw in there too.
And for you trivia buffs out there, check out this little tidbit: Mickey’s Christmas Carol was adapted as a daily comic strip and ran daily in November and December leading up to the special. If you look below, you can check out the first part of it. Enjoy!
My personal favorite part was Pluto’s Christmas Tree with Chip n Dale, but I also enjoyed the whole thing. FYI, it was actually first shown in movie theaters in 1983 (along with a reissue of The Rescuers in the U.S.). But I did not see it there and remember it best as a TV special, too.