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Samantha Stephenson shares her family’s favorite shows to snuggle up to during Advent. 

“Can I watch a show?” 

It is without a doubt the most-asked question in our home (at least it is ever since I made the rule that the kids have to ask Dad for dessert, not me). In our family’s routine, TV time generally comes in the afternoon following school and chores and usually gets preempted by playing with the neighbors. When we are off schedule and Mom is absorbed in the whirlwind of shopping, wrapping, cleaning, cooking, and generally doing all the additional (beloved, of course) that come with putting on the month-long production that is the contemporary suburban Christmas season (that’s Advent, for those of you who only speak Catholic), well, things can get a little thrown off.  

Give them an inch, and they swim all over you. (Anyone else remember the good ole days when Disney was kid-friendly?) 

On better days, watching these shows is actually an integral part of our family’s Advent rhythm. These are genuine bonding moments where we cozy up, switch on the fireplace (I like to think I’m a purist, but my love for convenience runs deep), sip hot cocoa and munch on some popcorn guilt-free (20 degrees is too cold to play outside, anyway. Don’t look at me like that, Michigan. I’m from Hawaii.) 

If you’re looking for a list of kid-friendly, Catholic-mother approved Advent viewing material, here it is!  

  • The Star. The sweetest little story of the Nativity, told from the donkey’s perspective. 
  • Veggie Tales: St. Nicholas, a Story of Joyful Giving. Worth watching, if not entirely educational.  
  • YouTube’s Saints Series is our favorite for just about everything (despite the strangely inconsistent accents, occasionally curious costuming, and overly realistic depictions of martyrdom). We watch these for the feasts of St. Nicholas (Dec. 6), the Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8), Our Lady of Guadalupe (Dec. 12), and St. Lucy (Dec. 13).  
  • Angela’s Christmas. I’ll be honest; this one doesn’t quite do it for me. But it comes close to being a great Christmas story, so I’ll give it an honorable mention.  
  • It’s a Wonderful Life. Hands down the greatest Christmas story since, you know, the actual Christmas story. This year my family forced me to watch it in color. Never again.  
  • The Chosen’s Christmas Special. If you haven’t seen The Chosen yet, I beg you to forget all those terrible renditions of biblical stories you’ve seen over the years. Put your prejudice aside and get ready for some binge watching that will actually feed your soul. This standalone Christmas episode is one I see becoming an annual post-Christmas-Eve-Mass tradition.  

And yes, we love the classics, Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman, and we watch all the Santa movies, too. I’ve explained before why we don’t see any spiritual conflicts between Santa and Jesus, and we don’t keep stringent lines between the celebration of Christmas and Advent in our domestic church (but hey, if that helps you to pray, by all means, observe that way in your home!). 



Copyright 2023 Samantha Stephenson
Images: Canva
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