the infamous ‘xmas stories’ video

Believe me when I say this particular VHS tape, recorded off TV in 1988 and labeled ‘Xmas Stories’ in my father’s edgy handwriting, has caused more than its share of excitement and intrigue over the years.

My sister and I fondly remember this tape largely for the ‘Muppet Family Christmas’ special, in which Fozzie Bear brings the whole gang to his mother’s farmhouse as a surprise. Unbeknownst to Fozzie, his mother had been planning to fly to Malibu! Of course she doesn’t, and much of the show continues with more friends arriving, all of whom slip on the ‘icy patch.’ Along the way, the Muppets are joined by a talking snowman, the Sesame Street gang, and the Fraggles even make an appearance. It’s filled with jokes adults would enjoy, and the scene with Miss Piggy doing a photoshoot always cracks me up.

There were other shows on there, including How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, the Burl Ives’ Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Mickey’s Christmas Carol, and even Christmas at Pee Wee’s Playhouse. (That last one cuts out not too far into the recording, and I wonder if one of my parents attempted to delete it after Paul Reubens was in hot water back in the early 90’s for some unsavory behavior…) There are a couple unique cartoon vignettes as well, including ‘Peace on Earth,’ a sweet story featuring squirrel families who live in discarded WWI helmets, and was nominated for an Oscar in 1938.

Anyway, I remember watching this video many times as kid, but over time we all lost track of it. For the last ten years or so, my sister and parents and I kept asking each other over and over if anyone had it or had seen it. While we could easily get any of those Christmas specials (except the Muppets–that was made-for-TV) on DVD, now as adults, WE WANTED IT FOR THE COMMERCIALS.

My father, as dedicated as he was to tape upwards of ten (!!!) different programs, did not stop recording for commercial breaks. PRAISE GOD. I love seeing the dated advertisements, most of which are for Playskool, The Land Before Time movie and McDonald’s. Anyone remember Country Crock, with the hands spreading the margarine and handling the giant tub? Or the ‘Halls’ of medicine throat lozenges? There are some gems on there for sure, including one for NordicTrack–gotta love those 80s sweatbands!

Recently, while sorting through our DVDs, Andrew came upon this tape (below). I knew immediately that it wasn’t the original tape, as the label is clearly written in my handwriting circa 2000. (I added the ‘1988’ today.) I have no memory of making a duplicate tape, but apparently I did, and I couldn’t believe I was holding it in my hands. I was giddy with excitement. It seemed too good to be true. Could I really have had THE (or a copy of) tape in my possession all this time?

Not having our own VCR, I raced over to the Nyes’ house and popped it into their machine. And there, as it opened with a fuzzy scene of ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas!’ I knew it was the one.

It has always been my intention to transfer the footage on the tape to DVD whenever I found it, so I did. After spending many hours (5.5 to be exact!) reviewing the tape and carefully noting each program and commercial, I dropped it off with a local video production outfit. It was far too expensive to have the tape edited, so the footage is simply as-is on DVD, and I also have it on USB. A huge shout-out to Key Video Productions for fast, friendly service!

I’m gifting a couple DVDs, and of course I have one for myself. I even got creative with wrapping paper for a makeshift cover.

Anyone else have some random thing from their childhood with such an epic story?

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