Can it be that a decade has passed since I, then a fledgling ToughPigs writer, methodically proved that A Muppet Family Christmas is the best Muppet Christmas special ever? And is it ever possible that a whole five years have gone by from the point in time where I managed to convince the world, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it is, in truth, the best Christmas special in all human history? I’ll save you the trouble of looking at the dates on those articles: the answer is yes.

That only means that this beloved special is celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2022, and after another five years of annual viewings, I’ve come to an obvious conclusion: A Muppet Family Christmas isn’t just the greatest Muppet Christmas special. It isn’t even merely the greatest Christmas special.

It’s the greatest Christmas thing ever, end of story.

Except not end of story! I wouldn’t just lay down such a heavy bit of knowledge and then drop the mic! Then I’d lose my deposit on the mic rental! This time of year is expensive enough without irresponsible mic usage. Of course, I’ve done extremely scientific research to back this up. I’ve created a list of beloved yuletide traditions, a veritable “following yonder all-star team” as it were, to pit the special against.

Now, out of respect for those who take the religious aspects of Christmas seriously, I’m not going to make a vintage film of the Muppet Babies face off against the story of the nativity. This is more about the secular trappings of the season. If you find spiritual fulfillment in Christmas, I absolutely respect that. But for the rest of the traditions, look out, because A Muppet Family Christmas is about to tear you apart more than wrapping paper on Christmas morning!

Watching Specials

Well, this is a Christmas special, so we’ve got that covered. (In fact, we’ve had that covered since 2017.) Watch it alone, or with friends and family. However you do your viewing, A Muppet Family Christmas is there for you. That was easy. What’s next?

Opening Presents

Don’t like waiting for presents, huh? I get it. Presents can be thrilling. If you’re giving them, there’s that uncertainty as to whether the recipient will like them. If you’re getting them, it’s finding out someone’s impression of you. Whether it’s jewelry, a warm sweater, a cigar box, or a soapdish, this is the thing that the giver thinks you’d truly appreciate.

And sometimes… that can backfire. The size isn’t right, the color’s wrong, you’d just prefer to leave your rubber duckie in the tub regardless of whether your best buddy slips on it, these things happen. But you know what’s just as thrilling and far more reliable? A Muppet Family Christmas. Who among us doesn’t love Doc yelling about who the turkey is, both literally and metaphorically? It’s the gift that keeps on giving, year after year.

The Food

Let’s be honest, it’s hard to satisfy everyone’s appetites this time of year. Some folks don’t like gingerbread. Some don’t eat turkey. And some have an intense hatred for fruitcake. (Okay, maybe more than just some for that last one.) But you know what’s better than arguing if sweet potatoes need marshmallows or not? Watching this special. They say that art is nourishment for the soul. (Who are they? I want to say the United Nations, but don’t quote me on that. I don’t want to get sued.)

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire? Check. Christmas cookies, quickly devoured by Cookie Monster. Check. A non-Big Bird killing helping of shredded wheat and cranberry sauce? With plenty of music and comedy, it’s a smorgasbord of entertainment that doesn’t leave you feeling gassy afterwards. (Or at least it shouldn’t. Again, don’t quote me on that.)

Ugly Sweaters

Whether you love or hate them, it feels like “ugly” sweaters can be a hindrance at times.Not everyone can rock a sweater like Bob McGrath. And as cute as they can be, sometimes they get too hot or itchy. But you know where fashion sits? Ma Bear’s farmhouse. Whether it’s Kermit’s fashionable plaid vest, Miss Piggy’s pristine white winter ensemble, Gonzo’s old-school pajamas, Bert’s kerchief or a divine pair of green fuzzy flipper slippers, holiday styles are all the rage in this special. So why aggravate yourself with dressing nicely when the Muppets can do it for you? Plus, they won’t judge you for wearing sweatpants.

Snow

Ah, snow. It can make for a perfectly picturesque holiday. There’s a reason practically every singer dreams of a “White Christmas.” But you know what isn’t romantic? Having to shovel sidewalks or deal with poorly-plowed roads. Bing Crosby never sang about that. A Muppet Family Christmas never leaves a mess. It’s a nice, clean hour of entertainment. Plus, you can live vicariously through Beauregard’s interest in shoveling snow. He loves it! Plus, if you stay at home and watch, you can avoid slipping on any icy patches, and see the Muppets do it instead. It’s a win-win situation!

Christmas Carols

Now, I’m no Grinch. I love the classic Christmas songs. But nobody does them better than the Muppets! The Electric Mayhem’s rendition of “Jingle Bell Rock” is second to none. You like “Deck the Halls?” This baby’s got it sung by the residents of Sesame Street! And if you’re not a fan of the old favorites, there’s songs from other Muppet productions, like “Pass it On,” “It’s in Every One of Us,” and “Together at Christmas.” This special is jammed with more holiday music than the broom closet is jammed with bunk beds! It’s a great story and a greatest hits album, all in one.

Santa Claus

Look, Santa’s great. But you know what’s better than one Santa Claus? Two Santa Clauses. (Or is that Clausesses? Or Clausi?) Not only do you get Doc dressed up as jolly old Saint Nick to cap off the special, but you get to witness the joy of the Two-Headed Monster getting to play the Christmas icon for the very first time. And look at the smiles on their faces! That is a monster that appreciates what they’ve been given. I guess Ernie gets to play Santa in his own way, too. So that’s three Santa Clauses! See, they’re multiplying before your eyes!

Spending Time with Loved Ones

Oof, we’re up to the hard stuff. Okay, be they friends or family, loved ones are always there for you, whether in person or across the digital divide. Sure, Christmas is a great excuse to get together. I mean, it works for this special! But it doesn’t necessarily have to be just for Christmas. We can gather together for any old reason, even just because we feel like it!

In the special, Kermit says “life would pass by in a blur if it weren’t for moments like this.” He’s not just talking about coming together, he’s talking about Christmas! Christmas is a special moment! And the one thing that unites us all is our shared belief that Muppets are freakin’ awesome! Ergo, Muppets coming together is better than people coming together. I rest my case. Court adjourned! Oh, well, I guess it’s tradition to have nine things in this list, so let’s squeak in one more…

The Muppet Christmas Carol

SON OF A DOOZER! How do I keep putting the hardest one last? You think after ten years I’d know better. Okay, what haven’t I talked about yet? Let’s get at the big message of The Muppet Christmas Carol: be generous. That seems pretty reductive, so how about this: if you’re selfish and unfeeling towards your fellow human beings, no one will love you. It’s bleak, but it is the crux of the whole Christmas Carol story. Up until Scrooge changes, it’s a tale with a lot of negative reinforcement.

But you know who goes through a similar transformation in A Muppet Family Christmas? Doc! At the beginning, he’s thinking selfishly about the nice, quiet Christmas he had planned for himself and Sprocket. It’s not Ma’s fault that Fozzie decided to bring all of his friends home! But over the course of the special, he finds himself charmed and delighted by this diverse group of revelers, and discovers that the holiday is even better when you share it with others. By the end, he’s ready to brave a massive snowstorm to help find Miss Piggy. If that isn’t generosity, I don’t know what is! And you don’t need to be scared by a bunch of ghosts that take up your whole night to learn that. An open heart can always share love, and Doc figures that out all on his own, no Marleys needed.

And science wins again! It’s an empirical fact that A Muppet Family Christmas is the best thing about Christmas. I mean, the other stuff is great, but I think this is a no-doubter. When Mariah Carey sings “All I want for Christmas is you,” you’ll know that when she says “you,” she means “Gonzo about to murder a Christmas turkey for trying to steal Camilla away from him.” Because that’s what Christmas is all about. Well, also that thing with the wise men, the shepherds, and a manger. But mostly the turkey fighting.

Click here to be the turkey (you turkey) on the ToughPigs forum!

by Matthew Soberman – Matthew@ToughPigs.com

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