Christmas and Chill: The Best Holiday Episodes

The holidays are here! Get in the spirit by tuning in to these holiday specials of some classic TV series.

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The Best Christmukkah Ever (The O.C.)

“A Menorah or a Candy Cane? In this house, you don’t have to choose. Allow me to introduce you to a little something I like to call ‘Christmukkah.’ A new holiday that’s sweeping the nation— or at least the living room.”

“Highlights include: eight days of presents, followed by one day of many presents.”

– Seth Cohen

Holiday cheer is juxtaposed with darker holiday themes in this classic episode of The O.C. Seth Cohen greets the holidays with abundant cheer. Julie Cooper, on the other hand, reflects, noting how “this time of year makes everything bad seem worse.” Alcoholism, shoplifting, and a love triangle give this holiday episode the traditional O.C. melodrama. Christmukkah ends on a happy note, with Ryan hanging up his stocking and becoming a true member of the Cohen family. The championing of cultural pluralism, the love, and wise Sandy Cohen telling Ryan “you’re with us now, you don’t have to be the parent anymore” leave the viewer feeling full of holiday cheer. Seth Cohen shows us that the mixing of cultures can be beautiful as he forever cements Chrismukkah in the hearts of O.C. viewers.

The One With The Holiday Armadillo (Friends)

I think this is probably my favourite holiday episode of all. This iconic episode takes a less traditional route and focuses on the holiday of Hanukkah. Jewish character Ross Geller has his son Ben over for the holidays and decides he wants to use the time as an opportunity to teach him about the Jewish holiday. Ben does not take this well, interrupting Ross’s story of the Maccabees by singing Jingle Bells and asking if Santa is coming to visit. Ross decides to acquiesce and dress up as Santa. Since there is no Santa costume available so close to Christmas, Ross becomes the Holiday Armadillo (Santa’s part-Jewish friend). Hilarity ensues. On the verge of getting his son to listen to the story of Hanukkah, Chandler shows up in a Santa suit. Joey later makes an appearance in a Superman costume. Eventually, the Holiday Armadillo is able to grasp Ben’s attention long enough to tell him the story of the festival of lights (with some of Joey’s additions– who knew Superman flew all the Jews out of Egypt?). It is nice to see a holiday in the shadow come to the forefront of such a popular show— and the sight of Ross in an armadillo costume gets me every time.

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Comparative Religion (Community)

“Religion is like Paul Rudd: I see the appeal and I would never take it away from anyone, but I also wouldn’t stand in line for it.” – Jeff Winger

In this fabulous holiday episode, Shirley, a devout Christian, attempts to hold a Christmas Party for her study group. She is shocked and appalled when the members of her group reveal they do not celebrate Christmas. The group consists of a Jew, a Muslim, a Jehovah Witness, an atheist, an agnostic and a cult follower. The episode beings with non-denominational “Mr. Winter” shouting “Happy Merry” through the halls of the community college. It deals with real issues of intolerance and discomfort with those who are different. Shirley invites all the members of the study group to bring a trinket from their tradition to her Christmas party. However, she swiftly hides Annie’s Menorah from view and makes snide remarks at each member’s contribution. For example, Shirley says, “Oh, Britta brought what she believes in: nothing.” In the true spirit of the holidays, the end of the episode sees the members of the group putting their differences aside and coming together in friendship.

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A Benihana Christmas (The Office)

The Office brings its classic cringe-worthy humour to this Christmas special. Michael Scott, recently dumped by his girlfriend Carol (for photo-shopping his face on to a picture of Carol, her kids and her ex-husband…) is taken to Benihana by Andy, Jim, and Dwight. Meanwhile, Karen and Pam stand up to Angela’s tyrannical control of the Party Planning Committee by creating a rival Christmas party. The employees face this difficult Christmas decision. Kevin explains, “I hear Angela’s Party will have double fudge brownies… but it will also have Angela.” In the name of Christmas, Karen and Pam offer to merge the two parties, resulting in some kickass karaoke.

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Grab a cup of candy cane-flavoured hot chocolate and get watching!

Raquel Simpson
Online Contributor