How I first became acquainted with this documentary is a bit of a blur, I vaguely remember PBS showing parts of it and interjecting every five minutes to say that if I donated 10 million dollars I could get this on DVD. Beyond that I remember only a swirl of candy canes, gumdrops, and stabbing PBS in the back by purchasing it online.
Happy Holidays: The Best of the Andy Williams Christmas Specials is a nostalgic piece of heaven for all you really old people who grew up watching those shows on TV back in the ‘60s. I just love great music, so I like playing it in the background during Christmas time. Lately, however, my two little boys have demanded to watch this multiple times a day, so we’re easing up a bit on wholesome musical documentaries and instead are encouraging more movies packed with senseless violence.
It’s only one hour long, and it’s basically a bunch of Christmas songs sung by one of the greatest crooners of all time. He’s joined in most of the songs by his brothers, and in some cases by the Osmond brothers, who really became big after appearing on these old shows. Here’s a good one featuring both the Williams and the Osmonds:
Between these musical numbers are pieces of interviews with Andy Williams, Bobby Williams, and Donny Osmond talking about The Andy Williams Show. If you’re not interested in the talking parts, I found this compilation on YouTube that’s has basically the same songs without the documentary part.
OH, SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW: There’s an awesome number where Andy Williams sings on ice skates and then suddenly turns into a completely different human being who does really fancy spins on the ice, then turns back into Andy Williams. But hey, you know what they say: If you can’t sing AND figure skate like an Olympic athlete, don’t bother asking for your own variety show.
Bonus proverb: The family that sings in matching turtlenecks and sweatpants together stays together.
I joke about the family’s wardrobe and other corny aspects that could only be considered remotely acceptable in the 1960s, but these shows really did capture that special link between family and Christmas. I like this line from the documentary:
Most variety shows featured big-name guest stars at Christmas time, but as evidence of the importance of family to Andy, he presented the entire Williams clan. Their strong family ties connected with an America that was yearning for a Merry Christmas.
Andy, who started singing in church as a Presbyterian, also wasn’t bashful about including Christmas songs that openly focused on Jesus Christ. In fact, he made it a point to include those songs.
Jesus Christ descended to Earth to save all of us, and our families. As Andy sang surrounded by his own wife and children:
Hark now hear the angels sing,
A new King’s born today,
And man will live forevermore,
Because of Christmas day.
“I [will] be the the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people.” — Jeremiah 31:1