A Special Talk about Specials

Let’s talk about Christmas specials for a moment.

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That intro? I killed it.

Now, I am sure there are lots of people out there who hate watching the same specials year after year after year…but I am not one of them. My husband and I love Christmas specials, and there are plenty that we watch every year, without fail. In the past couple of years that list has grown full of things like the Spongebob Christmas specials, the Sofia the First “holiday” special, and other such stuff, but those are just add-ons, things to entertain the little missy. These are some of the real important specials, the ones that have to be watched, or else it just feels like something is missing from the holiday:

Santa Claus is Coming to Town
This well-aged Rankin-Bass special takes some large liberties with the lore of Santa Claus, but it’s a cute take on the jolly old fellow’s origins. Fun fact: we have a copy of this movie-length stop-motion picture in high definition, and it’s so clear that you can see the strings everywhere. Kind of amusing.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
As a grown adult who is more aware of such things, this other beloved Rankin-Bass special has become known as the tale in which Santa is a total jerk and Prancer is totally sexist. That said, it’s a classic and I love it. And nowadays I get to hear my daughter exclaim over the arrival of the Bumble, which is just hysterical.

Garfield’s Christmas Special
Who doesn’t love this special, honestly? It’s right up there with the classics for sure, and one that definitely can not be missed in the Tobin household. It has such a cute story, in my opinion, and no matter how many times I watch it I never get tired of hearing Garfield sing the words, “electrical contracting”.

A Charlie Brown Christmas
Because of course.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Ah, the Dr Suess tale of nonsense words as read by Boris Karloff. So many nonsense words… Read by Boris Karloff… It just seems ridiculous somehow. But, of course, this is a wonderful tale to partake of near the holidays.

Christmas Vacation
Chevy Chase and his supporting cast really do an amazing job of encapsulating the wonders and woes of the holidays. And it’s funny as hell. I’ve watched this movie every year (sometimes two or three times in one year) since I was about seven years old, and yet the same gags crack me up every single freakin’ time.

Prep and Landing
What the- Oh, you thought I was just talking about classics, didn’t you? Well, I kinda was, because those ones are the best, but I wanted to mention this newer special because it’s so cute. It’s the CG-animated tale of the elves who help prepare each house for Santa’s arrival, and it has an adorable sequel that focuses on the importance of family.

There are a lot more specials that I could mention because we have quite the collection to work with, but those are just a few of my absolute favs, so I thought I’d share. 🙂

What about you? Do you enjoy watching Christmas specials each year? What are some of your favorites? Are there any that you absolutely can’t stand? Please share!

Tracey’s Gift-Giving Guide: Part 2 – Electronics

A Playstation 4 or an XBox One

consoles

Now here’s the thing…chances are that if you haven’t already purchased this present for your loved one, it’s not going to happen before the holiday season. As I mentioned in a previous post these two devices are THE THINGS to get this year, so if didn’t either pre-order one or camp out all night for a midnight release, there’s an extremely good chance that you’re not going to get one. Good luck.

That said, I still felt I should mention them because, again, they’re going to be THE THINGS this year. Every gamer out there (except for the PC gamers, who we will not speak of here…;)) is going to want one or the other, or perhaps even both, so if your loved one is anything like my husband, the fastest way to their heart is one of these two devices.

Just makes sure you’re get the proper one. You do not want to find yourself in the middle of a console war. @_@

A Media “Box”

mediabox

Do you have a loved one in your life who watches a lot of their media on their computer? Someone who has tons of movies and TV shows on their hard drive, or who prefers Netflix and Hoolu to satellite television? You may want to consider getting them a media box!

There are a variety of brands out there, but the basic idea of each of them is that they allow you to stream a variety of file types and utilize a number of internet-based services on your television. Depending on which box you decide on you can either place your files on a personal hard drive and connect directly to the box, or you can set up your internet and network sharing options so that the box can stream files over the network from your computer to your television. Additionally, many of the options out there have access to all kinds of internet services.

This one might require a bit of research to decide which box is best for your particular loved one. My husband and I personally have two WDTV boxes (one older one that doesn’t have wireless internet capabilities, and a newer one that has both wireless and it’s own internal hard drive), and while we’ve had our issues with them (WDTV support is effectively useless) we’ve definitely made great use of them. For this time of the year my husband has a collection of Christmas specials on a hard drive so that we can enjoy holiday fun on any television in the house all season long. 🙂

Depending on which one you choose, this gift will run you anywhere from about $80 to $200+.

A Smartphone

Plan you strategy carefully…when considering a gift that will actually end up costing the recipient money (hello, monthly data plan!) you must be very careful. If your recipient is currently on a plan with an older phone, you don’t want to set up a new plan that will be costing them three times as much each month. Similarly, if your recipient doesn’t currently have a cell phone at all, you must take into consideration that they have no intention of paying a monthly bill for something they hadn’t bothered to buy for themselves.

That said, if you have someone who is looking to upgrade their phone, or you’re in a situation in which you’re going to be paying the bill anyway (such as a gift between spouses), this is a great idea. My personal experience has shown time and again that even people who think that they have no use for a smart phone almost always end up loving them in the end. Even if your recipient is not the kind of person to hang out on Facebook or feels the need to check their email a hundred times a day, smart phones are just outrageously useful in a number of ways. My husband and I might have wasted our entire shopping trip to New Brunswick being as lost as a blind puppy if it weren’t for our phones and the Google Maps app.

Of course the price-range on this gift can vary dramatically depending on what you’re looking at. Some dealers will be offering last-gen phones (which are still perfectly excellent devices) for $0 with certain packages and contracts. The newest phones will cost anywhere up to several hundred dollars, depending on what you’re buying, whether you’re buying it outright or with a contract, and whether or not you’re paying for the contract in question yourself. Again, plan carefully.

It’s also worth mentioning that you might want to suss out the recipient of this gift on what kind of phone they might be most interested in. There are lots of iPhone enthusiasts out there, just as there are many people who would want literally any other phone before an iPhone. I personally love my iPhone, but if I were going to buy a new phone now I would definitely go for one in the Samsung series. Be careful not to get the exact opposite thing that your loved one would want!

Do you have any awesome suggestions for electronic gifts? Please share!

Stay tuned for Tracey’s Gift-Giving Guide: Part 3 – TOYS!

The 12 Posts of Christmas – Specials

I absolutely love Christmas Specials and, as can be evidenced by the massive number of them that he has accumulated, so does my husband. Every year he manages to find a few new ones, and it has come to the point where we have far more of them than we can reasonably watch during the holidays.

But there are, of course, a select group of specials that absolutely must be watched every year. The ones who come to mind right now are:

Garfield’s Christmas Special (tell me you don’t watch this every year, I dare you)
Home Alone (still, in my opinion, one of the best Christmas movies ever)
Rudolph, the Rankin-Bass version (absolutely classic)
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (there are some parts of this movie that just never stop being funny)

These are essentials, but there are quite a few others that we love to watch if we can, such as the other Rankin-Bass specials, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and (yes, I’m serious) the He-Man and She-Ra Christmas Special. This year things have gotten even more silly by the baby’s desire to watch the Ninja Turtles Christmas Special nine or ten times a day.

What I’m really saying is that if there’s anyone out there who watches more holiday specials than us, they may need to consider getting a life.