Christmas Eve on Sesame Street (1978)
I was going to start off by saying that the opening with the oversized skating costumed characters is pretty useless, but on re-watching, Bird Bird skating with the little girl is pretty cute, even though it isn't the same little girl he's friends with through the rest of the special.
Living in New York City adds a whole other level to watching Sesame Street, and something like this from the '70s makes the original target audience (inner-city kids) really clear. There is a sequence based in the old subway, with beat-up turnstiles and a guy who sells tokens. (The subway car and the station are obviously sets, but I don't know about the platforms.) I love that it's set so firmly in New York.
I love Oscar in this, he's so delightfully snarky. I even love him trying to convince Big Bird that Santa isn't coming. This is the main plot, by the way: Big Bird, along with help from Kermit and Grover, trying to discover how Santa gets down the chimney.
Sesame Street characters are friends to all children. They do a bunch of candid kid interviews about Santa that are pretty awesome.
This special is just an hour of great television. Cookie Monster has a great running gag about trying to write to Santa. Oscar has a fabulous song about the holidays. Ernie and Bert play out one of the sweetest versions of Gift of the Magi I've ever seen, and cap it off with a truly lovely rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
I even like the corny songs that the humans sing. Sesame Street is too entwined with my childhood for it to be otherwise. I don't believe in miracles, true blue or otherwise, but I still get all sentimental during "True Blue Miracle":
"I believe in miracles and I can tell you whyI recommend Christmas Eve on Sesame Street to everyone who has ever liked Sesame Street.
Once a year the street I live on sparkles like the sky
All hung with lights for Christmas / Twinkling ev'rywhere
The world turns bright for Christmas
And if that isn't a true blue miracle / I don't know what one is"