Category Archives: Christmas

All I Want For Christmas Is…

It’s the holidays! Time to agonize over whether or not you got your loved one the perfect gift. Guys, if you’re in a relationship, the right or wrong gift could make or break everything. No pressure. Beware-gift-card

Well? How did you do? Did you get the right gifts for your loved ones for Christmas or Hannukah? Or did you cause irreparable damage to the relationship? Most holiday gifting comes with the same angst of “Did I pick the right gift? Did my gift say too much? Or too little?” When I become President, or Sexiest Man Alive, whichever comes first, I’m going to pass a law.

The law will state that the correct gift is always…drumroll please…the gift card. I am in love with gift cards. I love them so much that for Christmas I want to buy a gift cards for gift cards to show them how much I love them. I would sleep with gift cards on the first date. In the checkout line it’s all I can do to restrain myself from buying gift cards for myself. I know I could buy the same stuff for myself with actual money, but isn’t having a gift card so much better? It feels like you’re getting stuff for free, even if you paid for the gift card.

Bought-a-gift-card..

I was in a large, big box hardware/lumber store last week and I came across the biggest gift card kiosk/endcap I have ever seen. As I rounded the end of the aisle and my eyes gazed upon the 8th Wonder of the World a great and pure light shone down from above and I heard a chorus of heavenly angels. It might have been a circular saw, but with that Mount Rushmore of gift cards in my sights it sure sounded like angels. It was so big that I’d need to summon an apron wearing lackey to get a ladder if I wanted a gift card from the top row. If that wall of gift cards was a chocolate river then you can call me Augustus Gloop.

I mean seriously, how can you go wrong with gift cards? If you know someone likes something and you buy them a gift card for it, they get exactly what they want. Or who doesn’t like going to a restaurant for free? “What is this?!!? A bill for my meal! Pishaw! Take that filthy thing away for I have a gift card!”  That is literally what’s going on in my head when I get to use a restaurant gift card. If I could put on a fur-lined red velvet robe and crown while I bellowed that to a waitress I think I could die a happy man.

To the detractors who would say, “Well giving a gift card shows that you didn’t put any thought into it.” Really? Even if you got a gift card for their favorite store? Yeah, your idea of buying clothes that are the wrong size is always so much more thoughtful. I love returning things or wearing some ill-fitting, hideous garment just so you can feel good about yourself for choosing such a “thoughtful gift.”

You know what? They even have gift cards for an amount of money. At first I didn’t understand this, thinking it was somewhat redundant, but now I understand the genius. A gift card for money is also thoughtful. You can use it like a credit card. It won’t bulk up your wallet or cause you to have to do any tedious counting of paper money. A gift card for money won’t cause you to receive 98 cents in change that you will then throw into your pocket, a jar or car cup holder never to be used. With a gift card the change stays right on it for you to use next time. The best thing about gift cards for money is that you can use them to buy other gift cards!

You know who has a great gift cards? Amazon and Barnes & Noble. They also have my books. I’m just sayin’. Have a great Thursday! ~Phil

The Curse of Being a ‘Christmas Baby’

Yes, today is my birthday. My parents told me that I spent my first Christmas in the hospital and was brought home in a Christmas stocking on December 26th. They told my older brother that it wasn’t Christmas Day until the 26th. And he believed it! What a maroon! He was the dumbest 3 year old ever.

My first baby picture! (pic credit to https://www.artstation.com/yoneyu Go check out her stuff)

That’s what I looked like more or less.  I bet that all of you must know someone that was a Christmas baby. And I would bet that you all said the same exact annoying thing when you found out that someone was born close to or on Christmas.

My parents took that picture of me with the Santa hat on my butt every year until I was 14. It got kinda awkward after age 10. As I was saying, there’s something that every person in the world says as soon as they find out that you’re a “Christmas baby.” I’m at the point where I’m sure they notice me visibly clenching my fists and rolling my eyes.

This is actually a current picture of me. My goatee is starting to look just like that. Ugh.

Ok, ok, I know that you’re saying, “C’mon Phil, stop dragging it out. What’s that super annoying phrase that you assume is a curse for all the Christmas babies?” This is a blog post that could’ve been a tweet, huh? Well, it’s my fecking birthday and I’ll write anything I want! Ok, here it is:

“Oh, you’re a Christmas baby! Do you lose out on gifts because your birthday is so close to Christmas? You probably get a lot of Birthday/Christmas combo presents, right?” 

I believe that I have heard some version of that question over 4000 times in my life.

Best version of A Christmas Carol EVER!

I have two weird little quirks that my parents saddled me with; one is them having had sex nine months before Christmas, which condemned me to a lifetime of hearing that stupid question. For the sake of Christmas babies everywhere, I’m going to quote Bill Murray as Frank Cross in Scrooged, “Would you please, for the love of god, and your own body!, stop the damn…” questions about our fecking birthday presents !!! 

That is all. I hope you all enjoy my birthday today!

~Phil

My Christmas Form Letter To Everyone

It’s that time of year again! The time for the year in review Christmas form letter. It’s always touching when our relatives treat us like customers. Typically these form letters take one of two directions. The first and most typical is the “What a wonderful year we had!”

“Dear Relative/friend, 2021 was a wonderful year for my family. I started a new job six figure job, and my wife did the research that resulted in the Covid vaccine. The kids are doing well. Johnny aced the S.A.T., didn’t miss a question! He’s now been accepted into a Ph.D program at Harvard even though he’s only 14. Susie was named Miss Junior America and will be touring the country speaking out against make-up companies testing lip gloss on kittens. The picture on the front of the card is the new Bentley we got after winning the lottery.

The best course of action the next time you see these relatives is a swift, stunning punch to the forehead that will cause them to spill nog all over their tacky sweaters. They deserve this because they are lying about how fantastic their life is, or if their life is really that great then the bruise on their forehead will remind them that life is tough and they shouldn’t get too cocky.

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The second kind of Christmas letter is my favorite. It’s the disaster letter. These are the people who make you feel so much better about yourself and your life.

“Hello everyone, it is with a heavy heart that we wish you Season’s Greetings. Sadly our twenty-seven year old cocker spaniel passed away from canine Covid last week. He was delicious.  In more upbeat news from our family it has been a year of triumphs! We’ve all had Covid twice and survived. In fact, scientists from the university are pretty sure that the Omicron variant began in our very own house! Can you believe it? And now it’s famous!

Also, little Johnny learned to poop indoors and that rash on Susie’s face cleared up. As soon as we get insurance we’ll get her lazy eye looked at. Home schooling is going well and they are both on track to graduate by the time they’re 21. We’re so proud! Once Trevor finds a job we’ll buy some train tickets and come visit!

The best course of action with these relatives is to tell them you’re moving and you’ll forward them the address as soon as you get settled.

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I would just like to note that none of the pictures in this post are from my family. If I were to write a Christmas form letter to anyone reading this it might read:

Thank you to anyone who has read The Phil Factor even once. It’s been a wonderful year thanks to all of you. Thank you to those who have read one of my books and those who clicked Like or shared my weekly Phil Factor as well as those that have shared their thoughts in my comments section. Regardless of what religion or holiday you may or may not be celebrating this season, thank you for every little click you’ve directed at me in some way. In the comments below, which Awkward Family Christmas photo makes you cringe the most?

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As always, Happy Wednesday, and if you enjoy #ThePhilFactor please feel free to share by hitting the Facebook or Twitter share buttons below.

The Ten Best Christmas Movies EVER? Let the Debate Begin!

Every holiday season I post this list and it evolves based on readers suggestions and new movies that come out. If you have favorites that didn’t make the list please add them in the comments section and maybe you’ll influence next years list.

10. Christmas Vacation (1989) Added to the list this year by popular demand in response to last years Top Ten is Christmas Vacation, which knocked The Nightmare Before Christmas off the list. What do you think? Should a different movie have been taken off the list? Christmas Vacation fun fact: The assistant director of Christmas Vacation is the grandson of the director of It’s a Wonderful Life.

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9. Scrooged: (1988) A modern re-telling of the Charles Dickens classic starring Bill Murray. I think that even Dickens would agree that this is way better than the original.

8. The Family Man (2000) Starring Nicholas Cage and Tea Leoni. Most people don’t think much of Nicholas Cage, but in this movie he nails the role of an investment banker who through a Christmas miracle is shown the path not taken in his life. I like this one so much that it knocked Die Hard off the list. If you haven’t seen it, go watch it and come back here and tell me what you think.

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7. The Santa Clause: This 2004 movie starring Tim Allen screamed instant classic the first time I saw it. Also, any movie that includes Judge Reinhold is a must watch.

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6. Love Actually: (2003) This is the best Christmas movie there is about stodgy British people trying to get it on, but it’s a favorite with the ladies, so it made the list. Around the holidays the ladies get what the ladies want.

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5. The Polar Express: (2004) Tom Hanks is a better actor as cartoon character.

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4. Elf: (2003) Starring Will Farrell, this is the most quotable of all holiday movies. “I just like to smile. Smiling’s my favorite.” or “Buddy the Elf. What’s your favorite color?” What’s your favorite Elf quote? Put it in the comments

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3. Miracle on 34th Street: (1947) I’ve never watched the color version and I don’t plan to. I’ve loved this one since I was a kid, especially the brilliant court scene when Santa’s lawyer wins by having the postmen deliver the letters to Santa. That was the last time the post office delivered anything on time for the holidays. Also, has anyone else noticed that the entire movie is about the lawyer guy trying to get with the little girls single mom?

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2. A Christmas Story: (1983) It is right and just that TBS plays this movie for 24 hours straight every year.

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1. It’s a Wonderful Life: (1946) Yes, I’m an old sentimental fool. I still love it every time when Mary is hidden in the bush and has lost her robe and George says, “Now this is a very interesting situation.” Who doesn’t wonder where the movie might have gone had his friends not pulled up in the car at that moment. Bow bow chicka chicka… Also it’s pretty cool to me that the town of Bedford Falls is based on a small town in upstate New York that I drive through all the time.

Ok, that’s my list. What do you disagree with? What movies would you put on the list?  And don’t forget those Elf quotes! Have a great Sunday! ~Phil

10 Ways ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ Could Be Better

I wonder if Kanye is on to something? Is it possible that the quintessential, iconic Christmas movie It’s a Wonderful Life could have, should have been better? I say yes, and here are ten things George would have done if he were a morally questionable protagonist.

10. George should have punched Sam Wainwright: The first time that dolt popped up and said “Hee haw!” George should have punched him in the throat. Then he should have done it every other time until Sam learned to shut the hell up.

9. Violet: ‘Nuff said.

8. Mr. Gower: George could have been a wealthy young man had he chosen to blackmail Pharmacist Gower over almost killing that kid by putting the wrong meds in the bottle. Especially after Mr. Gower hit him on his bad ear. A little hush money never hurt anybody.

"If you don't stop saying stupid stuff I'll throw you out of this bar myself"

“If you don’t stop saying stupid stuff I’ll throw you out of this bar myself”

7. George should have punched Clarence the Angel: If that were my guardian angel, I might choose not to go to Heaven if I have to hang out with him for all eternity.

6. George should have thrown a rock at the neighbor who told him to shut up and kiss Mary.

"I'm going to throw a rock at him"

“I’m going to throw a rock at him”

5. George should have been arrested by the town cop first for throwing the rock at the neighbor (see #6) and for vandalizing the house.

4. George shouldn’t have given Mary the robe back when she was in the hydrangea bush. (bow chicka bow wow!)

3. George should have pulled his brothers fiance’ aside and told her that his brother Harry is a big cheater and he would leave her, just like he did his other wives. Then heartbroken Harry takes over the Building & Loan and George goes to college.

2. He should have taken that job  that Potter offered him! Adjusted for inflation, that was the equivalent of a six figure salary nowadays. Btw, if you weren’t aware, the actor that played Mr. Potter is Drew Barrymore’s great uncle.

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1. Throw Billy under the bus: No, not literally. But when Uncle Billy lost that $8000 I would have ratted him out to the police in about two seconds.

So , what do you think? How about a modern re-make with a realistic George Bailey? The guy was miserable almost constantly until they had a nice party and bailed him out at the end. What happens after that party? Clarence gets his friggin’ wings but George is stuck going back to the life he was already so miserable in. Would other changes would you make to It’s a Wonderful Life? ~Phil

Throwback Thursday! The Riveting Plot of Every Hallmark Movie

Yes, it’s that time of year. “Christmas?” you say. No, Christmas is just a secondary annoyance. To all the people born with at least one romantic bone in their body and a high tolerance for mediocre acting, it’s the most wonderful time of the year, otherwise known as Hallmark Christmas movie time! Or as Lacey Chabert, Dean Cain and Candace Cameron Bure call it, “The only time we make any money.”

Being married to one of these Hallmark movie loving people, I’ve inadvertently seen several Hallmark Christmas movies and I couldn’t help but notice that each unique Hallmark Christmas movie has the exact same plot as every other Hallmark movie. To save you from having to watch the actual movies, here’s how it goes:

Guy or gal who left home several years ago is very successful at some high falutin’ job in a big city somewhere, then they come back to their Smalltown, USA hometown for Thanksgiving or a funeral. Oh no! Their family’s business is failing! Or maybe beloved Uncle Walt passed away and they’re going to lose the farm! What? The only way they can save the farm, family business or special hometown festival is if one impossibly attractive person stays longer than they planned. Maybe until Christmas! I can’t believe it. What are the chances of that?!!?

Successful and attractive returning guy or gal runs into the sister or brother of a friend they knew in high school. He or she “was just a kid back then” but now they’re “all grown up” and they’ve really blossomed into a hunk or a hottie. At first they may not like each other but everyone else can see the obvious chemistry. Despite the fact that they annoy each other, they have to work together to save the business, ranch, town  or whatever. There’s always something that needs saving.

Of course it will all inevitably lead to a playful snowball fight between the two in the town square where they will tumble into a pile of egregiously fake snow and look longingly into each others eyes.

Guess what everyone, that’s the plot of every episode of The Gilmore Girls too. You’re welcome. I’ve just saved you the trouble of watching every single Hallmark movie this year. But you know what? I know you’re going to watch them. It’s as inevitable as that moment when the returning hometown hero says “this is where I’ve wanted to be all along” as they finally kiss their new love and gaze at the Christmas tree.  Cue Christmas music and fade out to credits.

Ugh. Those movies are so fake sugary, saccharin sweet that they should have a disclaimer warning diabetics not to watch them. Really, I’m not a Grinch. I love the holidays and I mock them because I love them. Just like you. Have a great Thursday! ~Phil

The Elf From Hell

This isn’t really a throwback because it’s timely and relevant every year and I intend to keep posting it until all the demented parents stop waging psychological warfare on their young children.

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(12/22/2012) Most of you are familiar with the Elf on the Shelf right?  In the Elf on the Shelf tradition these poorly dressed little plastic elves are mischievous minions of the red suited overlord who spy on the every move of children and report back to their tyrannical leader. That allegedly quaint little elf doll was invented about 15 years ago as a new, and for some toy making company, moneymaking tradition. Fortunately for my kids I wasn’t aware of The Elf on the Shelf when they were young enough to believe in it.

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Parents put these little Elves on a shelf and the children are told that the Elf cannot be touched or it will lose it’s Christmas  magic. The elf allegedly flies back to the North Pole to report to Santa every night. Man kids are gullible! In the immortal words of Bugs Bunny, “What a bunch of maroons!” The nightly flight is how parents explain that the Elf is in a different spot when the kids wake up each morning.

Of course this crazy little ruse makes kids behave in the weeks leading up to Christmas! They’re terrified! Are you kidding me? Even now if you told me a Chuckie doll was going to sit on my shelf and stare at me while I slept, or that it might be moving around my house at night? I would never go to sleep again. The kids have got to be too terrified or too tired to misbehave. No wonder they have a weeks vacation from school after Christmas. They probably spend that week sleeping for the first time in a month.

onemomsworld.wordpress.com

onemomsworld.wordpress.com

I have a friend who says that after her kids are asleep she will pose the Elf somewhere to make it appear as if the Elf had gotten into mischief overnight, such as putting him next to a tipped over jar of something, or maybe on a desk next to some torn up papers. So her kids wake up imagining that this creepy little doll with the frozen scary clown smile is moving about the house in the dark destroying things. How much longer before someone imagines the doll picking up a knife? What if in some home where they’re torturing their kids with the Elf on the Shelf, just by coincidence, their elderly dog or cat were to pass away during the night? What do you suppose those kids are going to think for the rest of their lives?

This tradition sounds like psychological warfare against children. How long before we see kids who have grown up with this tradition seeking counseling for PTED, Post-Traumatic Elf Disorder?

dannyoulittlerock.com

dannyoulittlerock.com

Happy Holidays to you and your families. If you really want something mysterious and far less traumatic to just appear somewhere this holiday season you could give my books, Time To Lie  and the sequel The Last Locked Door, available in paperback, e-book, and Audible. Give the gift of reading this holiday season and have a great Saturday! ~Phil

The Plot of Every Hallmark Christmas Movie

Yes, it’s that time of year. “Christmas?” you say. No, Christmas is just a secondary annoyance. To all the people born with a uterus it’s the most wonderful time of the year, otherwise known as Hallmark Christmas movie time! Or as Lacey Chabert, Dean Cain and Candace Cameron Bure call it, “The only time we make any money.”

Being married to one of these Hallmark movie loving people, I’ve inadvertently seen several Hallmark Christmas movies and I couldn’t help but notice that each unique Hallmark Christmas movie has the exact same plot as every other Hallmark movie. To save you time watching the actual movies, here’s how it goes:

Guy or gal who left home several years ago and is very successful at some high falutin’ job in a big city somewhere comes back to their Smalltown, USA hometown for Thanksgiving or a funeral. Oh no! Their family’s business is failing! What? They need to stay longer than they planned. Maybe until Christmas! I can’t believe it. What are the chances of that?!!?

Successful and attractive returning guy or gal runs into the sister or brother of a friend they knew in high school. He or she “was just a kid back then” but now they’re “all grown up” and they’ve really blossomed into a hunk or a hottie. At first they may not like each other but everyone else can see the obvious chemistry. Despite the fact that they annoy each other, they have to work together to save the business, ranch, town  or whatever.

Of course it will all inevitably lead to a playful snowball fight between the two in the town square. And they both realize they like each other and they kiss.

Guess what everyone, that’s the plot of every episode of The Gilmore Girls too. You’re welcome. I’ve just saved you the trouble of watching every single Hallmark movie this year. But you know what? I know you’re going to watch them. It’s as inevitable as that moment when the returning hometown hero says that “this is where I’ve wanted to be all along” as they hug their new love and gaze at the Christmas tree.  Cue Christmas music and fade out to credits.

Have a great weekend! ~Phil

TBT! Was It Really A Wonderful Life? 10 Things George Bailey Should Have Done Differently

I wonder if Kanye is on to something? Is it possible that the quintessential, iconic Christmas movie It’s a Wonderful Life could have, should have been better? I say yes, and here are ten things George would have done if he were a morally questionable protagonist.

10. George should have punched Sam Wainwright: The first time that dolt popped up and said “Hee haw!” George should have punched him in the throat. Then he should have done it every other time until Sam learned to shut the hell up.

9. Violet: ‘Nuff said.

8. Mr. Gower: George could have been a wealthy young man had he chosen to blackmail Pharmacist Gower over almost killing that kid by putting the wrong meds in the bottle. Especially after Mr. Gower hit him on his bad ear. A little hush money never hurt anybody.

"If you don't stop saying stupid stuff I'll throw you out of this bar myself"

“If you don’t stop saying stupid stuff I’ll throw you out of this bar myself”

7. George should have punched Clarence the Angel: If that were my guardian angel, I might choose not to go to Heaven if I have to hang out with him for all eternity.

6. George should have thrown a rock at the neighbor who told him to shut up and kiss Mary.

"I'm going to throw a rock at him"

“I’m going to throw a rock at him”

5. George should have been arrested by the town cop first for throwing the rock at the neighbor (see #6) and for vandalizing the house.

4. George shouldn’t have given Mary the robe back when she was in the hydrangea bush.

3. George should have pulled his brothers fiance’ aside and told her that his brother Harry is a big cheater and he would leave her, just like he did his other wives. Then heartbroken Harry takes over the Building & Loan and George goes to college.

2. He should have taken that job  that Potter offered him! Adjusted for inflation, that was the equivalent of a six figure salary nowadays. Btw, if you weren’t aware, the actor that played Mr. Potter is Drew Barrymore’s great uncle.

it-s-a-wonderful-life-thomas-mitchell-james-stewart-1946

1. Throw Billy under the bus: No, not literally. But when Uncle Billy lost that $8000 I would have ratted him out to the police in about two seconds.

So , what do you think? How about a modern re-make with a realistic George Bailey? The guy was miserable almost constantly until they had a nice party and bailed him out at the end. What happens after that party? Clarence gets his friggin’ wings but George is stuck going back to the life he was already so miserable in. Would other changes would you make to It’s a Wonderful Life? ~Phil

The Ten Best Holiday Specials of All Time

Three years ago a network aired “It’s Your 50th Christmas Charlie Brown!” To be sure, the Peanuts Christmas special is a classic here in the States. What I’d like to see someone create is a special with all the Peanuts characters as 50 year olds. How weird would that be? Here are my choices for the Ten Best Holiday Specials of All Time. The Star Wars Holiday Special was mentioned in the comments a few times last year, but didn’t make the Top Ten only because I haven’t seen it. If you’re curious, it is on YouTube.  If you disagree with the list or have other choices please put them in the comments.

10. Rudolph’s Shiny New Year: This piece of crap has been played every year since 1976. I think I accidentally watched it once as a child and vowed to never watch it again. Thus far…mission accomplished. Rudolph should have been made into venison before this was made.

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9. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving: Sure the idea of toast and popcorn sounds great, in theory. This is a good special but pales in comparison to The Peanut’s Halloween and Christmas specials.

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8. Frosty the Snowman: The best part of this special is the song. The acting is putrid and the plot is barely plausible. When this is on I’m rooting for a green Christmas.

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7. Little Drummer Boy: This is where the list starts to get good. Good song, good plot, great claymation and I think there are some talking animals. Plus, it all takes place in a desert where Frosty would never survive.

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6. Santa Clause is Comin’ To Town: Oh man! When I was a kid and the Winter Warlock first appeared I was terrified. I believe the phrase “chillin’ like a villain” was coined for him. Also a young Santa hooks up with a serious hottie of a wife.

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5. The Rugrats Chanukah Special: Technically it was an episode of the series, but all these years later I still remember it for actually explaining the meaning of Hanukkah to me better than any person ever had. It was entertaining and informative, just like The Phil Factor.

4. A Charlie Brown Christmas: Hey, I know you all love this one, but if The Peanuts get on the list twice they don’t get #1. The ice skating scene, the dancing scene, and Snoopy making the animal noises were all great. Lucy still should have punched Charlie Brown for bringing back that wretched tree.

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3. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer: Romance, bromance, career conflict, monsters, The Island of Misfit Toys. This special had it all. Remember how scary it was when Yukon Cornelius rescued Rudolph and his family from Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster?

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2. Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas: Great song and great villian with a story of redemption. Who doesn’t love it when his heart grows and breaks the frame? My favorite scene is when his dog, Max, happily hops on the front of the sleigh expecting a ride.

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1. The Year Without a Santa Clause: This special didn’t need a Santa Claus. If you’ve got the Heat Miser and the Snow Miser in a sing off you win. I just wish one of them had done a mic drop. Hands down the best songs ever in a holiday special of any kind. Here’s the video of both songs. (please pardon the commercial at the start). Enjoy!

These are just the holiday specials that are populr in the States. If some of my British friends or anyone from anywhere else wants to chip in, I’d be happy to d an international edition. Fill up the comments! Happy Holidays of every kind to everyone! If you disagree with my list please add your suggestions in the comments. If you enjoy #ThePhilFactor please share by hitting the Facebook, Twitter or re-blog sharing buttons below. Have a great Tuesday! ~Phil