Welcome to Alt-Christmas, our week of articles dedicated to movies that we like to watch this time of year, especially if we’re not entirely in the spirit of the season.
Christmas and Green Acres go hand-in-hand, don’t they?
When you’re growing up and developing childhood memories your brain doesn’t always remember things accurately. Little things change here and there and unrelated moments get linked together. It’s almost like your brain is playing a game of telephone with itself and when the game is over you created this memory that can only exist in your head. Or maybe that’s just the way my brain works. Whatever the case may be, a lot of my early memories are associated with school, or more accurately, breaks from school and when it comes to breaks during the school year none is better than Christmas vacation (winter break).
It was during Christmas vacation when my strange child mind created a forever bonding link between Christmas and Green Acres.
I looked forward to Christmas vacation every year not only because I loved Christmas but it was the one opportunity during August and May where I could stay up late to watch television. I watched plenty of movies and television when I was younger and my parents didn’t have any real restrictions on what I could watch but they did want me in bed at a reasonable time. This meant that anything that came on at 9:00 PM or later was forbidden. During Christmas vacation, however, that all became fair game. Every December I would get this two week period where I was allowed to stay up as late as I could watching as much television as possible before my eyes forced themselves shut. Any night that I didn’t make it past midnight was a failure.
My forbidden fruit during this time was TV Land.
At the time TV Land was part of Nickelodeon’s Nick at Nite package and I just kind of stumbled into it by accident. I watched a lot of Nickelodeon, like most kids that grew up during the 90’s, and during Christmas break, I would spend all day doing so until the channel eventually switched over. This introduced me to TV’s golden age with shows like Bewitched and I Love Lucy but it was Green Acres that stuck with me because it seemed to be the one most closely associated with Christmas.
If you’re familiar with Green Acres then you know it’s pretty stupid to think of that as “Christmas show” — or any sitcom for that matter because how could a sitcom possible be entirely Christmas-based? My idiot child brain thought otherwise. 10-year-old me was convinced that there were dozens, if not hundreds, of episodes of Green Acres entirely about Christmas.
As I got older I realized that Green Acres wasn’t a “Christmas show” but I still thought it had a bunch of Christmas episodes. I carried this thought for nearly 20 years! It wasn’t until very recently — October of this year to be exact — that Shout Factory released the entire series on DVD and I realized that I’ve been terribly mistaken all these years. There aren’t hundreds or dozens or even a handful of Green Acres episodes. There is one.
Green Acres ran for 7 seasons and over that time produced a total of 170 episodes. Episode 13 of the show’s second season — “An Old Fashioned Christmas” — is the only one about Christmas. They even had an episode that aired on Christmas day that wasn’t about Christmas. Clearly, little Chris was wrong and bigger Chris remained oblivious all these years.
On the plus side, the one Christmas episode is fantastic. The episode opens with Oliver (Eddie Albert) and Lisa Douglas (Eva Gabor) still living in New York. It’s Christmas time and someone is trying to sell the couple a fake tree. Oliver wants no part of it because he wants an old-fashioned Christmas with a real tree just like they have out in the countryside. Flash forward to the couple’s first Christmas on their country farm and Oliver realizes that people in the country have commercialized Christmas as much as city folks. The entire episode has a great running gag on fake Christmas trees.
As it turns out I’ve had this lifelong memory and association between Christmas and Green Acres that was mostly made up inside my own head. The great thing is that none of that matters. I don’t need a bunch of Green Acres Christmas episodes for Green Acres to be my Christmas show. I already have the memory and that isn’t going anywhere. And now that I own the entire series I can start my own yearly tradition of watching the one Green Acres Christmas episode that does exist every year just before Christmas.