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

Dec. 17

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

Dec. 18

Frosty the Snowman and Frosty Returns 8 p.m., CBS3

Dec. 20

Nature "Christmas in Yellowstone" 8 p.m., WHYY TV12

Dec. 21

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)

Dec. 22

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

Dec. 23

Miracle on 34th Street (1994) 7:30 p.m., ABC Family

A Home for the Holidays With Faith Hill 8 p.m., CBS3

Christmas Eve

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

Christmas Day

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