Another holiday tradition resumes this week as television gears up for its annual marathon celebration of the Christmas season.
During the next three plus weeks, dozens of TV programs will spread holiday cheer, but there are several longtime favorites that everyone both young and old eagerly anticipate. And it appears most of them are returning again this year.
First, the airdates for the two most asked about specials: "A Charlie Brown Christmas" airs at 7 p.m. CST Sunday on ABC and "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" is set for 7 p.m. Dec. 13 on CBS.
Elsewhere, that jolly, happy soul "Frosty the Snowman" makes his annual visit at 7 p.m. Dec. 14 on CBS. The animated "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" began airing Monday on the Cartoon Network at 7 p.m. for four straight nights.
"It's a Wonderful Life" is scheduled to air on NBC at 7 p.m. Saturday and again at 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Few films capture the spirit of "peace on earth, good will to men" like this 1946 Frank Capra classic starring James Stewart.
Once again, the offbeat comedy "A Christmas Story" will be the most frequently shown movie of the holiday season. A 24-hour marathon airing begins at 7 p.m. Christmas Eve on TNT. Based on the writings of Jean Shepherd, the warm and witty 1983 movie perfectly captures the awe and excitement of the holiday season as seen through the eyes of a kid.
Other Christmas classics include:
7 p.m.: "The Year Without a Santa Claus" - Feeling tired and unwanted, Santa decides to take the year off. Voices: Mickey Rooney, Shirley Booth and Dick Shawn. ABC Family. Also airing at 9 p.m. Sunday, 7 p.m. Dec. 18 and 9 p.m. Christmas Eve.
Sunday, Dec. 15
8 p.m.: "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" - Chevy Chase stars in this hilarious movie about a Christmas when everything seems to go wrong. NBC
8 p.m.: "A Christmas Carol" - Patrick Stewart stars as Scrooge in this 1999 version of Charles Dickens' classic holiday tale. TNT. Also airing at 7 p.m. Dec. 23.
Tuesday, Dec. 17
7 p.m.: "Saturday Night Live Christmas Past" - Classic holiday sketches from NBC's long-running show. NBC
8 a.m.: "Christmas at Washington National Cathedral" - Live Christmas morning service. Fox
8 a.m.: "VeggieTales: The Star of Christmas" - PBS.
10 a.m: "Walt Disney World Christmas Parade" - Mickey, Donald and Santa celebrate the special day. ABC
Noon: "Mickey's Christmas Carol" - Mickey Mouse takes on the role of Bob Cratchitt in this animated spin on Dickens' classic tale. ABC
Noon: "Miracle on 34th Street" - It's the 1994 version starring Richard Attenborough. Fox
Be sure to check daily TV listings for other Yuletide productions.