Washington luminaries join network stars for "A Holiday Celebration at Ford's Theatre" (9 p.m., ABC). The president and first lady will be in the audience, as well as congressional leaders from both parties.
ABC gets to plug its own with performance by "Grey's Anatomy's" own James Pickens Jr., and "Dancing with the Stars" competitors Jonathan Roberts and Karina Smirnoff. Other performers include singers Olivia Newton John, Yolanda Adams, Jon Secada and Wynonna, as well as comedian and "Big Shots" star Christopher Titus.
¢ If politicians and celebrities aren't your idea of Christmas company, how about spending it with television's biggest nerds? The "Mythbusters Holiday Special" (8 p.m., Discovery) sets about explaining and exploding myths and legends about turkeys and Christmas trees. And along the way, hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman build a Rube Goldberg contraption powered by soda and Mentos.
¢ On a more serious holiday note, "Explorer: Last Christians of Bethlehem" (7 p.m., National Geographic) looks at the political and religious tensions in the little town of Bethlehem. The Church of the Nativity is thought by many to be the very birthplace of Christ. But after a 2002 armed standoff between Palestinian gunmen and Israeli soldiers, the number of visitors to the site has dropped dramatically. And since then, the city's remaining Christians have felt threatened by the rise of Islamic militancy on one side and the tightened Israeli security on the other.
¢ After four installments describing the advances in technology and sophistication of video games, level five of "Rise of the Videogame" (7 p.m., Discovery) asks, "Can a game make you cry?" and explores the emotional aspects of this entertainment phenomenon.
Christmas specials and movies
¢ Jimmy Durante narrates the 1969 animated special "Frosty the Snowman" (7 p.m., CBS), followed by "Frosty Returns" (7:30 p.m.), featuring the voices of Jonathan Winters and John Goodman.
¢ The voices of Mickey Rooney, Shirley Booth and Dick Shawn animate the 1974 cartoon "The Year Without a Santa Claus" (7 p.m., Family).
¢ A cat and mouse tell Tchaikovsky the news in the 2007 special "Tom & Jerry: A Nutcracker Tale" (7 p.m., Cartoon Network).
¢ Tim Allen stars in the 1994 comedy "The Santa Clause" (8 p.m., Disney).
¢ Carly Pope, Bobby Cannavale and Christine Baranski stars in the 2005 holiday romance "Recipe for a Perfect Christmas" (8 p.m., Lifetime).
¢ It's back to the island in the 2001 special "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer & the Island of Misfit Toys" (8 p.m., Family), featuring the voices of Richard Dreyfuss, Jamie Lee Curtis and Rick Moranis.
¢ Gift envy abounds in the 2004 cartoon "Ed, Edd 'n Eddy's Jingle Jingle Jangle" (8 p.m., Cartoon Network).
¢ "South Park" (Comedy Central) reels off four consecutive Christmas-themed episodes: "Red Sleigh Down" (8 p.m.), "Mr. Hanky's Christmas Classics" (8:30 p.m.), "Christmas in Canada?" (9 p.m.) and "Woodland Critter Christmas" (9:30 p.m.).
Tonight's other highlights
¢ Kelly wants to change her stodgy image on "Back to You" (7 p.m., Fox).
¢ Evidence points to a serial killer who targets teens on "Criminal Minds" (8 p.m., CBS).
¢ Dennis Hopper narrates "The Seven Ages of Rock: Punk Rock" (8 p.m., VH1 Classic).
¢ Suspects abound when a much loathed hotelier meets his end on "CSI: NY" (9 p.m., CBS).
¢ Dan meets a fellow time traveler on "Journeyman" (9 p.m., NBC).