The Christmas season means cookies and carols and cheesy TV.
Yes, cheesy - but in the most delicious way. Christmas celebrates the cozy and familiar, and what could be cozier than gathering up the kids to watch the same animated snowmen and reindeer you enjoyed as a child?
Like those scuffed-up family ornaments we dig out year after year, some Christmas specials - Frosty the Snowman, of course, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Year Without a Santa Claus - get more charming the more time-worn they become. Luckily, what with Christmas now dominating some cable channels for a whole month, new specials join the bunch regularly.
Made-for-TV Christmas movies, too, multiply from year to year, and while some aspire to classic status, others aim only to be entertaining cheese, those popcorn-and-tissues flicks about finding love or learning the lessons of the season.
The lineup of holiday specials is longer than Santa's list of naughty and nice children, so we can't include them all. Remember, too, that times are subject to change and many of these programs are repeated. Here are some of the highlights of the holiday viewing season:
It's a Wonderful Life 8 p.m. Saturday and Dec. 24, NBC10
The Frank Capra classic gets two, and only two, airings, one on Christmas Eve. James Stewart and Donna Reed star, with Henry Travers as Angel Second Class Clarence.
Christmas in Canaan 8 p.m. Saturday, Hallmark Channel
In a drama set during the civil rights movement, widowed farmer Daniel Burton (Billy Ray Cyrus) forces son DJ (Zak Ludwig), who has begun to show racist tendencies, to spend time with a black classmate, Rodney (Jaishon Fisher).
Santa Baby 2: Christmas Maybe 8 p.m. Sunday, ABC Family
Jenny McCarthy returns as Mary Class (sounds like Claus?), Santa's daughter, who's torn between taking over the family business from her retiring pop (Paul Sorvino) and running her own New York company.
Christmas in Washington 8 p.m. Dec. 20, TNT
A concert benefiting the National Children's Medical Center features an audience including President Obama and other Washington VIPs.
24 Hours of "A Christmas Story" Beginning at 8 p.m. Dec. 24, TBS
Little Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) wants a Red Ryder BB Gun in the Christmas charmer based on the writings of Jean Shepherd, who also narrates.
More Christmas TV
Mickey's Christmas Carol 7, ABC Family
Winnie the Pooh & Christmas Too 7:30, ABC Family
A Charlie Brown Christmas 8, 6ABC
A Miser Brothers Christmas 9, ABC Family
Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town 8 p.m., ABC Family
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys 9 p.m. ABC Family
Holiday in Handcuffs 8 p.m., ABC Family.
A Flintstone Christmas 10 p.m., ABC Family
Yes, Virginia, 8 p.m. CBS3
A Carol Christmas 2 p.m., ABC Family
Santa Baby 6 p.m., ABC Family
Christmas at the White House: An Oprah Prime-Time Special 10 p.m., 6ABC
Jennifer Hudson: I'll Be Home for Christmas 8 p.m., 6ABC
Saturday Night Live Christmas 2009 8 p.m., NBC10
Christmas in Connecticut 8 p.m., TCM
A Renaissance Christmas 9 p.m., WHYY TV12
Holiday Affair 10 p.m., TCM
Frosty the Snowman and Frosty Returns 8 p.m., CBS3
Nature "Christmas in Yellowstone" 8 p.m., WHYY TV12
Chasing Christmas 7 p.m., ABC Family
I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown 8 p.m., 6ABC
Christmas Do-Over 9 p.m., ABC Family
Great Performances "Dance in America: San Francisco Ballet's Nutcracker" 9 p.m., WHYY TV12 (Repeats at 10 a.m. Christmas Day)
A Very Brady Christmas 1 p.m., ABC Family
Once Upon a Christmas 3 p.m., ABC Family
Twice Upon a Christmas 5 p.m., ABC Family
Miracle on 34th Street (1994) 7:30 p.m., ABC Family
A Home for the Holidays With Faith Hill 8 p.m., CBS3
Michael Mcdonald, This Christmas: A Soundstage Special Event 8 p.m., WHYY TV12
Faith Hill, Joy to the World: A Soundstage Special Event 9 p.m., WHYY TV12 (Repeats at 3 p.m. Christmas Day)
Christmas in July 9:45 p.m., TCM
Christmas at Belmont - From the Heart of America's Music City 10 p.m., WHYY TV12 (Repeats at 2 p.m. Christmas Day)
Christmas With the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Featuring Brian Stokes Mitchell 11 p.m., WHYY TV12 (Repeats at 1 p.m. Christmas Day)
Christmas at Luther: Night of Glory, Dawn of Peace Midnight, WHYY TV12 (Repeats at 4 p.m. Christmas Day)
Meet Me in St. Louis 1 a.m., TCM
Jack Benny Christmas - "The Christmas Show" (original air date: Dec. 18, 1960) 1 a.m., WHYY TV12
Arthur's Perfect Christmas 7 a.m., WHYY TV12
Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas 8 a.m., WHYY TV12
Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade 10 a.m., 6ABC
L.A. Holiday Celebration 2009 noon, WHYY TV12 (Repeats at 10 p.m.)
Christmas in Connecticut 12:15 p.m., TCM
Holiday Affair 4:30 p.m., TCM