This time of year, Heat Miser, Rudolph and that elf dentist get all the love. But Christmas nerds like myself know that there are a multitude of holiday specials that — for one reason or another — don’t get the attention or respect they deserve. So today, a Nation turns its lonely eyes to them:

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus: An adaptation of the L. Frank Baum book that imagines Santa as an orphan raised by wood nymphs and fairies — just like Craig Grebeck. In a misguided attempt to keep pace with the “darker” animated fare of the mid-80s, this one’s got creepy villains that look like a sort of Transformers-Gargoyles hybrid, a full-on axe battle, and a scream-inducing scene in which Santa is held captive by a snake and giant spider. Merry f–kin’ Christmas, kids!

The Leprechaun’s Christmas Gold: You know the good folks at Rankin-Bass were running low on ideas when they came up with this one, but it’s still one of my favorites. Not a single Irish stereotype is untouched — everyone’s pale, red-headed and sings like Tommy Makem. We can only assume they’ve got drinking problems and small peckers as well. Anyway, here’s the first ten minutes:

Jack Frost: Not to be confused with the Michael Keaton movie, this Rankin-Bass special explains how Jack Frost gave up immortality for the chance to woo a young village girl he’d fallen in love with. When she dumps him for a knight, however, he realizes what the rest of us already know — being a mortal sucks ass. Still, you’ve got to love any special that gives you Buddy Hackett, F-Troop‘s Larry Storch, and a villainous Cossack who rides a robot horse [and voiced by the guy who did Boris Badanov, no less]. You can watch the whole bloody thing here, in two parts, if you’re so inclined.

Twas the Night Before Christmas:
Joel Grey has given us two things to be happy about. His irrepressibly hot daughter Jennifer, and this holiday favorite, affectionately remembered as “the one with the mouse who f–ks up the clock.” If you don’t get all choked up when you hear the song “Even a Miracle Needs a Hand,” then you’re an android. Or Leonid Brezhnev.

The Star Wars Holiday Special: If you thought The Phantom Menace was the worst thing ever expelled from George Lucas’ bowels, guess again. This “special,” which Lucas somehow roped the entire cast of Star Wars into appearing in, is unspeakably bad. As if the idea of Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford and that slightly effete gold robot singing Christmas carols wasn’t bad enough, the creators saw fit to throw in some truly cringeworthy musical numbers by the likes of such guest stars as Art Carney and Bea Arthur. Can mere words adequately convey the suck factor here? No, they cannot. But it’s almost so bad, it’s good, as this clip — which is very likely used as a torture device at Guantanamo — will attest.

Finally, nothing stokes the Christmas spirit like watching the final out of the 2004 World Series. Dig it:

That’s all, folks. We probably don’t say this enough, but thanks to everyone who stops by the site each day. Your e-mails and comments mean a lot to us, and we hope you’ll stick around for some of the things we’ve got planned for 2007. Happiest of holidays… and if you’re driving, go easy on the Schlitz, pardner.