What a year it was for new Christmas specials! 1987 saw the debut of the much loved Garfield Christmas Special, AND the less heralded, but just as awesome, Claymation Christmas Celebration.
These two specials debuted on December 21st 1987. Compared to today, it’s really unique that they waited until that close to Christmas to air them. Like this year, the annual showings of Rudolph and Frosty were in November. I’m not a fan of that. Christmas specials shouldn’t start airing until late in the first week of December at the earliest. Unless we’re talking about the 25 Days of Christmas on Freeform. I love that shit.
I distinctly remember watching these debuting specials on that night. I was really into The California Raisins at the time, and always being a fan of the Garfield comic strips, this was appointment television for me. I even distinctly remember recording both shows on VHS. If I only still had that tape. Sigh.
This is a great example of what I miss about the old days of television…anticipation. With the modern world of streaming, it doesn’t quite feel the same. Seeing an ad like this in TV Guide, and keeping it on your brain until the day it aired is an art lost on children of today. And with so many fewer options back then, stuff like this was widely viewed by the public in general. That meant that you and your friends at school would get giddy together waiting for the day, and then after it aired you knew it was going to be the topic of conversation before school and at lunchtime. Stuff like this were shared experiences. I’m willing to bet that a whole lot of you reading this can relate stories about seeing this as an example of what I’m talking about.
If you’re interested in seeing these classics again, there are a couple of options. The Garfield Christmas Special is streaming on Amazon for Prime members but is also free on Tubi as well as free on YouTube. The Claymation Christmas Special is a little more obscure. You can pick up a DVD copy of it that also includes Halloween and Easter Specials for just $20 bucks. Or if you’re willing to sit through a lot of ads, there is a playlist on YouTube with all the segments that you can watch through.