Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas: It’s a Family Thing


So, who’s up for some nostalgia mixed with a little Christmas cheer? Stefanie over at Ooph (one of my new favorite blogs) posted a question about which holiday classic would you choose—A Christmas Story or National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Now, while these are both classics for sure, they just don’t measure up to my family’s favorite, which I now feel compelled to share here.

My family—we’re all about Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas. What? You’ve never heard of Emmet Otter?  Well then, here’s a link to buy the DVD, so I’d get on that if I were you:

It’s a Jim Henson production about a mother and son otter who each enter a talent contest in the hopes of winning money to buy a Christmas gift for the other.  It’s very very sweet with a whole Gift of the Magi kind of theme to it—but “Muppetfied” (my own word, obviously—not sure if it works) and with songs and memorable characters only Jim Henson could create. The pacing and plot and even music are kind of old school, and it’s pretty atypical of anything that would be made today; but it captured our hearts when we were kids, and I hope my Muffin grows to love it as much as I do.

I made my 6th graders watch it one year. Okay, so there was some eye rolling. But maybe that was because their teacher was trying to sing along.  Anyway, I don’t know why it’s a favorite in our house. It just is. The way traditions and shared smiles just happen.  BTW, if you see comments here about seemingly random things like mashed potatoes and washtubs, don’t be alarmed. It’s only family members quoting favorite lines or song lyrics.

My younger sister and I are probably the biggest fans, and our husbands just don’t get it. (And I would share how the argument about who really should have won the talent contest goes down at our house, but I don’t want to spoil this for anyone, you know, in case you’ve never seen it.)

We’re also big Rankin-Bass fans, so I won’t argue with those who love their Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer the best. My Muffin looooooves the Rudolph, we have all the Rudolph Christmas ornaments and I believe I may just have haled from the Island of Misfit Toys.  That’s a close runner-up for sure.

An aside: Rudolph is by far the best Rankin-Bass Christmas special. Folks often remember Heat Miser and Snow Miser, but ever notice how no one knows which Christmas special they’re in? Well, it’s The Year Without a Santa Claus, and the reason no one remembers is because it stinks. (Well, except for the aforementioned Heat Miser and Snow Miser scene.) I was surprised when I watched it as an adult, and knowing how much I love Rudolph, that the plot and the songs were so awful.  Stick with Rudolph. Trust me on this one.

Rankin-Bass definitely earned their spot in pop culture. And while their movies are popular enough to warrant the marketing of the action figures and stuffed animals and ornaments, little treasures like Emmet Otter stay on the fringe. It just holds a special place in our hearts. Maybe because it’s not so popular—like it’s our little secret. And now I’m sharing it with you.

You’re welcome.

But you should know that if they ever make Emmet action figures, my sister and I won’t hesitate to elbow you out of the way to get them first!

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  1. LeeWee says:

    half of fifty cents, half of fifty cents…


  2. Helene says:

    Our family favorite (well, Melissa and my favorite, anyway!) is a Kraft special from 1986 (remember those specials sponsored by Kraft???) Okay, it’s called The Christmas Toy, AND WE JUST LOVE IT!!!!! Lines from that movie have lived on in our households for close to 25 years! Like for instance, the cat’s toy, MEW, is always getting crap for the way he smells. He just has to continually remind all the other toys that it’s CAT NIP!!!! Two years ago, Melissa paid almost thirty dollars for a copy of it on tape (no DVD existed then and I don’t know if one does yet) and this year, when James is really READY for the Christmas Toy, between us we don’t have a VCR that still works!!!!! But alas, after searching for Christmas at the White House (I just LOVE that every year) I happened upon it and hit the RECORD button for the Tivo box!!!!! Now I have to go back and search for Emmett Otter… you know I hate to be out of the loop!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  3. Irene Landon says:

    and I am eternally grateful to Kris Giannone (with whom I use to work) for buying it for me one Christmas. Love you Emmett!


  4. Laurie says:

    my all time favorite too. My step-sister & I watched it faithfully for years, and I was so excited when I found it on VHS a few years back (ok, so I need to upgrade to DVD..). She and I have been out of touch for a bit, but this past Christmas I posted “river bottom nightmare band” on her facebook wall & she just laughed & said she had seen it & thought of me, too. glad to find another “groupie” lol


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