The Little Drummer Boy

The Little Drummer Boy ★★

These Rankin and Bass specials are my core aesthetic memories of Christmas. They define what the holiday looks like, in mind. In a simple aesthetic way, especially their stop motion works, convey Christmas through chintzy figurine-like expression. They are animated play sets. Gifts you unwrap by watching them and the animators do the playing with the toys for you. Such an efficient packaging of jolly Christmas joys. In the case of The Little Drummer Boy, it’s a repackaging of a song, giving it a visual weight to hang its stocking on. It fundamentally works in my mind, at four years old, consuming this content for the first time. And now in my 30s it doesn’t work quite that way but the vivid memory remains. Would my daughter, who cut her baby teeth on modern productions, care for these jittery figures and washed out colors from the print we watched together? No, probably not, and she didn’t. She didn’t need to. There are others that matter and I’m confident she’ll understand those.