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Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Garfield Christmas

Welcome to the twenty-first day of “THE POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR”, and I hope that you're in a nice cozy place for today. As I type this entry out, we are experiencing bad weather conditions which include freezing rain, which means that the roads are going to be extremely difficult to navigate.

If you are in one of those areas which is seeing freezing rain right now, please stay safe if you have to venture outdoors. I know that Christmas is just days away now, but I'd rather you stay safe and go shopping another day instead of risking your life for a PlayStation 4. Really, a video game system is not worth losing your life over, especially so close to the holidays.

Of course, if you live in a place where the climate is always sunny and 75 degrees, well, you may as well just ignore that previous statement.

At any rate, today's Saturday Smorgasbord is supposed to have a theme of Saturday Morning cartoons, and of course I plan on having a cartoon featured in this very space.  It'll just be a cartoon that has a lot of Christmas references.

Exactly twenty-six years ago, on December 21, 1987, this television special debuted on CBS (the same day that Will Vinton's Claymation Christmas special first aired).  And it happens to star a cat who at first appears to have absolutely zero Christmas spirit whatsoever.  He's notorious for despising Mondays, stealing his owner's food whenever possible, kicking his canine pal off of every possible countertop, and sending the world's cutest kitty cat on a first class trip to Abu Dhabi - well, with the right amount of postage stamps, that is.

It comes as no surprise that the Jim Davis created comic strip Garfield has been a huge hit since its debut in 1978.  With Garfield celebrating his thirty-fifth anniversary earlier this year, this lasagna-loving, diet-hating fat cat shows no sign of slowing down, even if he could give a sloth a run for its money in a laziness contest.

But when I first saw "A Garfield Christmas" air on television, I came to exactly three conclusions about the show.  Firstly, it proves that you can have a merry Christmas no matter where you are in the world.  Secondly, the people who you spend the holidays with can absolutely make all the difference in the world.  And lastly, even the most jaded of pussycats can have a large heart (which surprisingly doesn't have blocked arteries from the colossal amounts of food that Garfield eats).

Now, when the Garfield Christmas special first begins, Garfield is in one of his most favourite places in the whole world...his beloved cat bed snuggled up under the covers with his beloved teddy bear, Pooky.  And in typical Garfield fashion, he dreams about a magical gift-giving machine that Jon has installed that will give out presents just by thinking about them.  And, of course in Garfield's dream, he refuses to let anybody else use the machine and he hoards all of the goodies he thinks about for himself.  Typical Garfield behaviour.  Think of himself first, and all others come second.

But not even Garfield is prepared for the news he hears when he finally wakes up.  You see, Jon has decided that rather than spend another Christmas in suburbia, he would pack up Garfield and Odie and spend Christmas at the old farmhouse where he grew up.  Jon's whole family would be there.  His mother, his father, his grandmother, and his younger brother...who hated to be called Doc Boy.

And Garfield was NOT looking forward to it at all.  Half the time, he couldn't even stand living in the same house as Jon.  How in the world would he handle the rest of the Arbuckle crew?

More would Santa know just where to deliver the presents?

Of course, Jon was really looking forward to coming home for the holidays.  After all, he hadn't seen his family in a long time.  In fact, he's so happy about it, he decided to sing a song about it (and Garfield interjects with his own sarcasm).

When the trio of Jon, Garfield, and Odie arrive at the Arbuckle farmhouse, we quickly get introduced to the family.  Jon's father is a typical farmer type with the stereotypical southern accent.  Jon's mother is a typical housewife who has a lot of charm and can prepare potatoes at least half a dozen ways.  And Doc Boy (voiced by "Laverne and Shirley" actor David L. Lander) is repeatedly picked on by Jon, who absolutely loves calling him Doc Boy.  But under the right circumstances, Jon and Doc can get along with each other...particularly when they team up to poke fun at their own father!

And then there's Jon's grandmother.  And, well...she's not like your typical grandmother.  She's got a sharp tongue, she's got spunk, and she appears to act the same way that a typical teenager would.

In short, she is the world's coolest grandmother ever!

And, let's just say that Jon's grandmother is very vocal about who she likes and who she doesn't.  She loves Jon and Doc Boy with all her heart, but she won't hesitate to add a little bit (or a ton) of spice to Jon's mother's recipe for sausage gravy.

In short, Grandma Arbuckle is basically the one member of the family who could probably understand Garfield better than anybody.  And as it turns out, Garfield hears a lot of stories from Grandma in between the tree trimming and the annual reading of "Binky, The Clown Who Saves Christmas", Grandma tells Garfield a story so touching that you would have to have a heart of stone not to be affected by it.

(By the way...most of the music here in this special was composed and performed by Lou Rawls and Desiree Goyette...both of whom did an absolute fantastic job.)

Meanwhile, there's something about Odie that has Garfield feeling quite suspicious.  Ever since they arrived at the farmhouse, Odie's been sneaking around the house, gathering random objects.  At first, it might appear as though Odie has turned into a compulsive hoarder, but there is a reason behind his strange behaviour, which Garfield is determined to find out.

Garfield's quest takes him to the barn, in which he spies Odie trying to build something out of the materials that he has found.  But before Garfield can investigate more, he ends up having an accident which nearly knocks him out.  However, there is a silver lining to all of this, as Garfield ends up discovering a stack of old letters.  Letters from fifty years ago that Grandpa Arbuckle wrote to Grandma Arbuckle when they were courting each other.

So, you can imagine how moved Grandma was when Garfield gave her the letters as a Christmas present.  It turned out that they were the best present that she had ever received.  And for Garfield, he too felt great joy in knowing that he had gotten the perfect gift for someone.

But as it would turn out, Garfield himself would get a gift of his own that was made with just as much love.  You see, Odie was busy making him his own personal scratching post, which turned out to be a fantastic gift for the fussy, finicky cat.  And in one of the kindest, yet rarest shows of affection Garfield ever gave, he gave Odie a thank you hug!

Isn't that sweet?

So, that wraps up the look back on "A Garfield Christmas".  Do tune in tomorrow to Day #22, where we take a look at a song that actually mentions another cartoon character!

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