That’s right- “Christmas.” Not “season”, not “holiday.” “CHRISTMAS.” We’re such bad-asses.
5. The OC– “The Best Chrismukkah Ever” (2003)
I was completely, wholeheartedly into the first season of The OC (did that show last more than a year? No? Didn’t think so). I’m pretty sure that, had you asked me to in 2003, I wouldn’t have hesitated to take someone down for a chance to just be NEAR Seth Cohen (Adam Brody, who has since disappeared. An apology for that Meg Ryan movie nobody saw?). And the whole notion of “Chrismukkah”, a result of the Cohen family being half-Jewish, is Seth at his greatest. From the Santa-yarmulkes (not sacriligious at all) to his demand for “8 days of presents, followed by one day of MANY presents” and that the whole family, now including his adopted-troublemaker brother Ryan, all be together to celebrate, it’s all so adorable that you just want to vomit dradles and jingle bells all over the place.
And, to top it all off, a tension-filled holiday party, squishy family moments and a lot of awkward swaying to Stevie Wonder. It really is the “Best Chrismukkah Party Ever.” Or it would be if Kristen was completely smashed on vodka.
4. Bones– “Santa in the Slush” (2007)
Ah, the good old days when Bones FOLLOWED THROUGH ON ITS PROMISES.
We were, you might remember, led to believe that Bones and Booth would kiss in the ’07 holiday episode and we got our wish. A Christmas miracle, indeed. And, yes, ok, it was because Bones owed Carolyn a favor for swinging a little visitation party with her dad who was in prison for murder and, because Carolyn was feeling impish, she decided Bones could repay her by laying a kiss on her FBI partner. Whatever, we’ll take it. The whole exchange is just sweet and awkward and weird enough to be believable and the chemistry between Deschanel and Boreanaz (they should open a perfume store or something) good enough to make it a truly squeal-worthy moment. Plus, the rest of the episode is AWESOME. They find a dead santa whose real name is actually Kris Kringle, he lives above a toy store, he was the best store santa in history and both scenes where the duo question a department store locker room FILLED with crappy Santas (And Carl Winslow too!) are hilarious. Add Bones’ extremely cool ex-con dad (played by Ryan O’Neil before he accidentally hit on his own daughter) and an appearance from her brother Russ “Mumford” Brennan and even little moppet-headed Parker and, it really is, the most wonderful time of the year. (Yes, I plan on ending EVERY entry with that.)
3. The Simpsons– “Simpsons Roasting On an Open Fire” (1989)
Even reading the description of this “Christmas Special” made my cold little heart bloom with joy. Remember how GOOD The Simpsons used to be? Bart asks for a tattoo and starts to get “Mother” on his arm but gets caught by Marge and is left with “Moth.” They then have to spend their Christmas money getting it lasered off (he should’ve kept it. I mean, if little Pete could keep Petunia…), Homer doesn’t get his bonus, Barney is a drunk santa at the mall, they go to the track and blow $13 on a little dog named Santa’s Little Helper (who comes in dead last) but the pup follows them home. Yay, puppies and Christmas!
Where would The Simpsons be without Santa’s Little Helper? And where would be without old episodes of The Simpsons? I shudder to think…
2. The Office– “Christmas Party” (2005)
Season 2’s Christmas episode at good old Dundler Mifflin was highlighted by the office’s Secret Santa exchange. Michael picks Ryan the Temp, for whom he has a serious man-crush on, and completely overshoots the dollar limit to buy him an iPod but then gets insulted by HIS gift, a homemade oven mitt from poor Phyllis who has the best sad-sack face in the universe, and quickly decides to turn the Secret Santa into a Yankee Swap instead. Just so he can get a not-so-crappy gift. This is all fine, except for Jim who is panicking. In one of the sweetest examples of Jim’s still-unspoken love for receptionist Pam, he picked her name out of the hat and got her an adorable tea pot filled with adorable notes just for her. The party just goes downhill from there so Michael, in a desperate attempt to pick things up, renegs on the office’s no-alcohol policy and gets everyone wasted. Which means drunk Meredith. Which means happy Judi.
Michael Scott: [checking out at a liquor store] Hey, you’re the expert; Is this enough to get twenty people plastered?
Clerk: [Seriously considers] Fifteen bottles of vodka?… Yeah, that should do it.
1. West Wing– “Noel” (2000)
Beal has her “episode that will make you cry uncontrollably” and this one is mine. It’s Christmas at the White House and months after the shooting in Rosalyn. Yo Yo Ma is set to play for the President and all seems jolly and bright. Except Josh is a mess and he doesn’t know why. He cut his hand and doesn’t remember how, he breaks out into a sweat during the concert and he’s biting people’s heads off left and right. A visit with a White House appointed shrink, played memorably by Chicago Hope‘s Adam Arkin, and a few really brutal scenes later, Josh is shaken to discover that he’s suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and while everyone is enjoying the holidays, he’s been reliving that time he almost died and, now, has to face the fact that he’s suffering from its aftermath and could very well lose his job (thanks a lot WHITE SUPREMACISTS. God). Until he gets a pep talk from Leo. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go watch a bunch of old clips of John Spencer and cry softly into my lunch.
BONUS: This didn’t make the list but did you know there’s a Beverly Hills 90210 Christmas episode called “It’s a Totally Happening Life”? Best. Title. Ever. I almost choked on my salad when I read it (and when I say “salad”, I mean “chocolate croissant.” Don’t judge me.)