Making the Grades
Along with the garland and other tinsel bric-a-brac, store shelves are decorated each December with a selection of Christmas videos. Arriving at the height of gift giving season, these videotapes professing good will and cheer seem to find their way home even if most of them (except for a few time honored stories) are strangers to the shopper.
Family Home Entertainment introduces three such offerings for 2000. Sold separately or as a set, each of their New Christmas Classics Series spins an animated yarn featuring familiar voice talents, woven together with songs and narration by other recognizable names. Perhaps inspired by Dickens' choice of title, all are named after a Christmas carol.
Jingle Bells: The only thing Beth and Tommy want this year, is to see that "Christmas look" on their parents' faces. Unfortunately they have had another lean harvest on the farm, so the excitement of the season has been difficult to feel--especially for Dad. With the best interest of the others at heart, both parties set out to find the perfect gift, not realizing that the success of their choice depends on Kris the horse (Don Knotts). But as the narrating elf (Jason Alexander) explains, their "present" problem can be worked out with a little sympathy from Mom (Shelley Long) and some magic from Santa Claus.
O' Christmas Tree: As the star (Marie Osmond) on top will tell you, not all Christmas trees are created equal. But their beauty isn't just about the decorations on the outside. And that is just what a discarded Nutcracker ornament (Edward Asner) discovers when a little squirrel (Tim Conway) encourages the other forest animals to spruce up a little sapling who is feeling blue because she has been passed over for the honor of becoming a real Christmas tree. With the blessings of Santa her true colors shine forth.
We Wish You a Merry Christmas: Too many years of hard work have caused the townsfolk of Harmony to forget that life has anything to sing about. Still their hearts are soft enough to insure that the residents of the local orphanage receive presents. But Christmas is a season for giving, and the children want to share something with the good citizens in return. When Mrs. Claus (Nell Carter) gets wind of their wish, she visits the youngsters and helps Cindy (Lacey Chabert) put these feelings to song. And according to the little reindeer (Travis Tritt) who has been walking us through the story, this proves to be the most amazing gift of all.
While all three movies feel a little long and the musical scores are not terribly memorable, their soft messages of the spirit of giving are sure to be acceptable for the young audiences for whom they were designed. But if parents are looking for a reminder of why the name of Christ is part of Christmas, they won't find it here.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Jingle Bells / O Christmas Tree / We Wish You A Merry Christmas.
Jingle Bells: What did this family discover was the most important thing to have at Christmas? Is the act of giving presents the only way to show love?
O’ Christmas Tree: What did the little tree accomplish that made the Nutcracker feel she was worthy of a special gift from Santa? What could you do to have a similar effect on the members of your family?
We Wish You a Merry Christmas: Why do you think the gift of music had such a powerful influence on the orphanage caretaker’s personality? Does music affect the way you feel?
The producers of these films are also offering another Christmas title—The Tangerine Bear .