When I was a kid, we had a VHS tape labeled "Christmas Specials," filled with several hours of beloved cartoons my dad recorded for us to watch "on demand" - plus tons of great '80s commercials for things like Micro Machines and Power Wheels.

When I was a kid, we had a VHS tape labeled "Christmas Specials," filled with several hours of beloved cartoons my dad recorded for us to watch "on demand" - plus tons of great '80s commercials for things like Micro Machines and Power Wheels.

Nowadays, DVRs and the abundance of specials on DVD make such tapes pointless, but I still get excited about catching classic kid-friendly specials every year. Here's a roundup of the next air dates of my personal faves (many will be shown numerous times before Christmas, so check listings for more info).

8. "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," 7 p.m. Dec. 7, ABC Family

This cartoon by the legendary Rankin-Bass team - they produced an extraordinary number of holiday specials in the '60s, '70s and '80s - gets short shrift, but the tale of mice and men and one angry Santa Claus has plenty of charm and lots of songs that'll get stuck in your head.

7. "Frosty the Snowman," 8 p.m. Dec. 18, CBS

Based on the song, this story of a snowman who comes to life marked the first time Rankin-Bass used traditional cel animation rather than the stop-motion they were known for.

6. "Mickey's Christmas Carol," 7 p.m. Dec. 8, ABC Family

There are countless versions of Dickens' classic tale, but I find most too grim. Disney's take, with Mickey as Cratchit and Scrooge McDuck as Ebenezer Scrooge, automatically feels cheerful because it's a cartoon - even if the ghosts are still pretty terrifying.

5. "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town," 8 p.m. Dec. 7, ABC

Fred Astaire narrates and Mickey Rooney plays Kris Kringle in the 1970 story of how Santa Claus came to be.

4. "A Garfield Christmas," 7 a.m. Dec. 13, ABC Family

Made in 1987, the newest of the bunch also feels the most dated, but that doesn't lessen my devotion. It just wouldn't be Christmas without Doc Boy, Grandma and Binky Saves Christmas. It was off the air for a while until last year, when ABC Family purchased the rights and aired it as part of their 25 Days of Christmas lineup.

3. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," 8 p.m. Dec. 12, CBS

There are so many memorable characters in the first of Rankin-Bass' Christmas classics, from the snowman narrator voiced by Burl Ives and prospector Yukon Cornelius to wannabe dentist Hermey and the residents of the Island of Misfit Toys. Its message of acceptance resonates with misfit kids and adults alike.

2. "Charlie Brown Christmas," 8 p.m. Dec. 3, ABC

Simple and sweet, the Peanuts special has been roping in faithful fans since it started airing in 1965. You get that iconic score from Vince Guaraldi, Linus and the rest of the gang showing off their dance moves, proof that any scraggly tree can be transformed with a little love, and an annual reminder of what Christmas is all about.

1. "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas," 8:30 p.m. Dec. 8, Cartoon Network

The Grinch sits atop my list for lots of reasons. Chuck Jones' animation is colorful and gorgeous and Boris Karloff's narration is perfect. The timeless script stays faithful to Dr. Seuss' book, maintaining almost verbatim his lovely rhythmic poetry. Plus, its anti-commercialism message gets to the heart of Christmas spirit without being overly sentimental or overly religious.