Photo Credit: FOX
You can have your Christmas classics and Charlie Brown's sad little tree and all the Grinch's shenanigans. For me, it just wouldn't be Christmas without Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire, also known as The Simpsons Christmas Special.
It was the first episode of The Simpsons to air, on December 17, 1989. It had subversive wit, and charm, and heart. Little did I know that these would be signature Simpsons traits in the years to come. That first time watching the show, I just loved its funny twist on Christmas warmth.
And it still resonates. Like so many Americans this year, Homer's having financial difficulties. He has to go without a Christmas bonus. The extra cash that Marge has stashed away for Christmas gifts has been squandered—used to pay for a tattoo removal from Bart's arm.
So Homer takes a job (playing Santa at the Springfield Mall), gathers his meager earnings together, and heads for the dog racing track on Christmas Eve. He figures he'll bet on a Christmas miracle. What a Homer-esque solution to the problem. (It's astounding, really, that poor Marge has been putting up with this goofball for decades.)
Then, despite getting some inside information on the race's winner, Homer puts all the money on the dog named Santa's Little Helper. How could a dog with that name lose on Christmas Eve? Pretty well, actually—he comes in dead last.
And in that moment, the Christmas miracle happens. The dog's aggravated owner abandons him. So Santa's Little Helper has no home, and Homer has no gifts. It's a match made in Springfield. Homer adopts Santa's Little Helper, to the unmitigated joy of his children on Christmas. The. Best. Gift. Ever. (And how true--what kid doesn't want a dog for Christmas?)
I love that Santa's Little Helper went on to become an esteemed member of the family. Well, except in the episode when Bart swaps him for a well-trained, purebred collie. (In Bart's defense, the collie could do a lot of things Santa's Little Helper couldn’t do, like CPR.) But Bart eventually grows bored with his obedient dog, and Santa's Little Helper is restored to his proper place in the Simpson household.
Rudolph and Frosty are OK, I guess. But this loser dog has won my heart.
What's your favorite holiday episode from a TV series? Chime in below!