IN THE AGE of downloads, you probably can watch your favorite Christmas special any time you want. But there's something special about watching holiday films during the holidays. Here's a rundown of some classics and some new delights, in case you want to tune in. Be sure to confirm air times, which are subject to change.
_ "A Charlie Brown Christmas": Poor Charlie Brown. Though he's directing a Christmas pageant, he's lost the holiday spirit in the midst of commercialization. The blockhead regains his spirit - and spreads it to his friends - with the help of Linus and the scrawniest tree imaginable. Worth tuning in just for the Vince Guaraldi soundtrack. 8 p.m. Nov. 28; 8 p.m. Dec. 20, ABC.
Fun fact: CBS produced a version with a laugh track over creator Charles M. Schultz's objections. It was never released.
_ "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" Boris Karloff narrates the charming Dr. Seuss tale, yet another slap in the face to commercialism. 8 p.m. Dec. 18; 8 p.m. Dec. 25, ABC.
Fun fact: According to The Journal of Popular Culture, Theodore Geisel (Seuss) worked with Grinch animator Chuck Jones and "It's A Wonderful Life" director Frank Capra on a series of animated instructional films for the U.S. Army during World War II.
_ "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." Ridiculed for his red nose, Rudolph hits the road with a grizzled prospector and an elf who wants to be a dentist. After a run-in with the Abominable Snowman and a stop on the sad Island of Misfit Toys, Rudolph returns to the North Pole to help Santa see through a blizzard that threatens to cancel Christmas. 8 p.m. Dec. 4, CBS.
_ "Elf." In this modern classic, Will Ferrell stars as Buddy the Elf. A human raised by Santa's helpers as one of their own, naive Buddy learns his true identity and heads to New York City to find his father. 8 p.m. Dec. 15, CBS.
Fun fact: Voice actor Maurice LaMarche ("Futurama") created Buddy's memorable 12-second belch.
_ "A Christmas Story." The leg lamp. The furnace. The triple-dog dare. "Fra-gee-lay!" Although broad and insufferable to some, this is a bona fide Christmas staple, based on the works of author Jean Shepherd (who also narrates). 8 p.m. Dec. 24, TBS (24-hour marathon).
Fun fact: Jack Nicholson was considered for the father role that went to Darren McGavin.
_ "It's A Wonderful Life." No Christmas season is complete without watching George Bailey and Clarence the angel save Bedford Falls in glorious black and white. Clarence gives desperate George a look at how much worse off his city and its residents would be if he had never existed, and George repays the debt by helping the cherub-in-training get his wings. 8 p.m. Dec. 1; 8 p.m. Dec. 24, NBC.
_ "It's a SpongeBob Christmas!" This stop-motion special marks the first time the denizens of Bikini Bottom appear on network TV. 9:30 p.m. Friday, CBS.
_ "Home Alone: The Holiday Heist." The thieves are back and so is a little kid. But this time, the house is haunted. 8 p.m. Nov. 25, ABC Family.
_ "Christmas in Rockefeller Center." Trace Adkins, Mariah Carey and Cee Lo Green perform at the live lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. 8 p.m., Nov. 28, NBC.
_ "Blake Shelton's Not So Family Christmas." Kelly Clarkson, Miranda Lambert and Reba McEntire join "The Voice" personality, crooning holiday favorites. 10 p.m. Dec. 3; 8 p.m. Dec. 7, NBC.
_ "Christmas with Holly." The latest Hallmark Hall of Fame offering focuses on three uncles and a little lady. 9 p.m. Dec. 9, ABC.
_ "The Mistle-Tones." It's a "Glee"-ful holiday as rival vocal groups compete in a Christmas Eve sing-off. 8 p.m. Dec. 9, ABC Family.
_ "Michael Buble: Home for the Holidays." The popular songster returns to NBC for his second holiday special. 10 p.m. Dec. 10; 8 p.m. Dec. 21, NBC.
_ "Christmas in the White House." This all-new holiday event follows the season with the Obamas. 8 p.m. Dec. 13; 9 p.m. Dec. 21, NBC.
_ "CMA Country Christmas." Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles hosts; Lady Antebellum, Martina McBride, Scotty McCreery and Keith Urban headline the performers. 9 p.m. Dec. 20; 9 p.m. Dec. 22, ABC.