Chocolate, socks, nail polish … it seems anything can be an advent calendar if you can find it or try hard enough. We all know about one of the most popular iterations: The "25 days of Christmas" on TV stations running holiday-themed programs from Dec. 1 to Christmas Day.
I have always wanted to partake in this 25-day tradition but never consistently made time for it. This year, I decided to commit completely to 25 days of Christmas entertainment. For me, this meant watching one week of Christmas TV episodes, a week of movies, and a week of holiday specials. I left Dec. 22-25 open as free play to watch whatever I pleased. (Everything I watched is listed with where I streamed it, but some selections might be available on multiple services.)
What I thought would be a funny way to pass the time during the holidays turned into something more, and exactly what I needed for my soul.
Dec. 1: "The Mindy Project," "Christmas Party Sex Trap" (Hulu)
Dec. 2: "How I Met Your Mother," "Little Minnesota" (Hulu)
Dec. 3: "Victorious," "A Christmas Tori" (Netflix)
Dec. 4: "Seinfeld," "The Pick" (Hulu)
Dec. 5: "Arrested Development," "Afternoon Delight" (Netflix)
Dec. 6: "Friends," "The One Where Rachel Quits" (Netflix)
Dec. 7: "Black-ish," "Black Santa/White Christmas" (Hulu)
Is there a word like "foodie" but for watching TV? Because I’m not that. While my Netflix list is filled with shows like "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad" collecting dust, I just can’t resist a sitcom. I kicked off the month with one of my favorites, "The Mindy Project," for just pure Christmas fun. I must have Googled "Christmas TV episodes" a hundred times this week with varying success (tip: Seinfeld has one true holiday episode and it’s not "The Pick"). A lot of people describe 2019 as a hectic year, and for someone like me, feeling a little numb is a natural response. But this week reminded me it’s OK to feel the joy of laughing without inhibition.
Dec. 8: "The Santa Clause" (Hulu)
Dec. 9: "The Holiday" (Hulu)
Dec. 10: "Christmas 9 to 5" (Hulu)
Dec. 11: "A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding" (Netflix)
Dec. 12: "Holiday Rush" (Netflix)
Dec. 13: "Same Time, Next Christmas" (Netflix)
Dec. 14: "Home Alone" (Disney+)
During the TV episode week, I went to dinner and noticed a TV in the restaurant playing "The Santa Clause." Maybe it’s my childhood crush on Bernard the Elf, but it’s one of the films I make time to watch every year. This year, I also gave myself the freedom to lean in and watch the cheesy, romantic comedies made for this season. With so many viewing options, there’s an impossible pressure to watch only the newest or "best" movies, especially since movies vying for the top awards tend to be released in the winter. A week of low-stakes holiday movies felt liberating. Plus, it’s fun to see that one actor from that one show or movie take center stage in a leading role for once.
Dec. 15: "BoJack Horseman Christmas Special: Sabrina’s Christmas Wish" (Netflix)
Dec. 16: "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (Hulu)
Dec. 17: "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (Hulu)
Dec. 18: "A Legendary Christmas with John and Chrissy" (Hulu)
Dec. 19: "Mariah Carey’s Merriest Christmas" (Netflix)
Dec. 20: "A Very Terry Christmas: Terry Crews’ Yule Log" (Hulu)
Dec. 21: "I Love Lucy" Christmas special (Hulu)
One of my favorite Christmas traditions growing up was watching "The Flintstones" Christmas specials. It didn’t feel like the holidays without seeing Fred Flintstone as Santa or Ebenezer Scrooge. These forms of holiday entertainment perfectly embody Christmas cheer. And when the winter blues settle in, all I crave is the positivity and reminders of love Christmas can bring us. This is when I realized an emerging theme: families can be loving communities for many, but other times, your loving community is where you can create a family, too. Whether it’s your friends, coworkers or neighbors, Christmas doesn’t need to be restricted to the people you’re related to.
Dec. 22: "Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends Christmas Special: A Lost Claus" (Hulu)
Dec. 23: "King of the Hill," "Twas the Nut before Christmas" (Hulu)
Dec. 24: "Hey Arnold!" "Arnold’s Christmas" (Hulu)
After a week of specials, I’m not surprised that I would default to watching cartoons. Animated shows make me feel like a kid again and ultimately, the holiday magic centers on children, right?
Without fail, I will watch the same movie on the big day. "A Christmas Story" does not judge its viewers: It doesn’t matter if you tune in late, fall asleep or manage to watch it all in one sitting. It’ll be there when you need it on Christmas Day. And I think we could all use a little bit of stability and non-judgment at this time of year. The holidays are stressful enough with trying to find the right gift, decoration or treat. We shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves. So whether you spend your viewing time snuggled up with a pet, someone special or even yourself, what matters is finding and feeling peace. When the world feels like it’s pulling you in a hundred directions, we could all use a little peace on earth.