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TV channels the holiday spirit with Frosty, Elf and Mariah

Posted 11:45 a.m. Wednesday
Updated 5:31 a.m. Thursday

This image released by CBS, shows Hermey the Elf, voiced by Paul Soles, left, and Rudolph, voiced by Billie Mae Richards in a scene from "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer." The longest-running holiday special in television history, will be broadcast on Dec. 10, on CBS. (CBS via AP)

— The spirit of the holidays is an elastic concept when it comes to both commerce and TV programming.

Endlessly varied gift possibilities are equaled by what's on the small screen, with Taraji P. Henson's "White Hot" special and a Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert both making the cut.

There's also the old — "It's a Wonderful Life," again! — and the new, including Amazon's now-streaming animated specials "If You Give a Mouse a Christmas Cookie" and "The Snowy Day," based on the children's books.

For an ongoing blast from the past, catch holiday-themed episodes of shows ranging from "Lassie" to "Quantum Leap" to "Frasier" on the Cozi TV channel from Dec. 12 to 25.

Here's some other fare that may fit with your traditions or provide a fresh twist. All times EST.

ANIMATION:

— "A Charlie Brown Christmas ," 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1, ABC. Upset by the season's materialism, Charlie ends up learning the true meaning of Christmas from Linus in this digitally remastered 1965 special.

— "Albert," 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, Nickelodeon. Tiny Douglas fir tree Albert aspires to be the Christmas king of New York City. The voice cast includes Bobby Moynihan and Sasheer Zamata of "Saturday Night Live."

— "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, CBS. Rudolph really glows in this color-corrected version of the 1964 special featuring Burl Ives' memorable voice.

— "Elf: Buddy's Musical Christmas," 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 21, NBC. In this stop-motion animated special based on the movie and stage show, Buddy (Jim Parsons) travels to meet the dad he never knew. Ed Asner narrates.

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MOVIES:

— "Holiday Joy ," 3 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8, repeats Dec. 9 and 15, Freeform. A new TV movie in which teen Joy Hockstatter (Bailee Madison), struggling after her mom's death, finds life mysteriously transformed.

— "It's a Wonderful Life," 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, NBC. In Frank Capra's enduring 1946 fable, George Bailey (James Stewart) learns what's important in this world with help from angel Clarence (Henry Travers).

— "A Christmas Story ," 24-hour marathon starting at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 24, TBS and TNT. All 9-year-old Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) wants for Christmas is a Red Ryder air rifle. Watch, smile, repeat.

— "A Nutcracker Christmas," 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, Hallmark Channel. Ballerina Lily (Amy Acker) missed the chance to perform in "The Nutcracker" and, some eight years later, must confront her past in this new TV movie.

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TUNES:

— "VH1 Divas Holiday: Unsilent Night ," 9 p.m. Monday, Dec. 5, VH1. It's a family affair with Patti LaBelle joined by her goddaughter, Mariah Carey. Also aboard: Chaka Khan, Vanessa Williams and Teyana Taylor.

— "Taraji's White Hot Holidays," 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8, Fox. The "Empire" star welcomes Pharrell Williams, Taye Diggs, Missy Elliott, Alicia Keys and other guests in a special featuring classic holiday songs.

— "A Pentatonix Christmas Special," 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14, NBC. The Grammy-winning a cappella group performs their favorite holiday songs, with guests Reba McEntire and Kelly Clarkson.

— "Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Featuring Laura Osnes and Martin Jarvis," 9 p.m. Monday, Dec. 19, PBS (check local listings for times). Broadway star Osnes and British actor Jarvis team with the choir and orchestra in this concert taped last December.

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STOCKING STUFFERS:

— "I Love Lucy Christmas Special," 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, CBS. A package deal with two colorized half-hours, the December 1956 "Christmas Episode" and 1955's "Lucy Gets in Pictures," with Lucille Ball navigating a staircase under the burden of a feathered headdress.

— "Rock the Troops ," 9 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 13, Spike. Dwayne Johnson salutes the U.S. military with a celebrity-filled special featuring Nick Jonas, Flo Rida, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and others.

— "Lidia Celebrates America: Holiday for Heroes ," 10 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16, PBS (check local listings). Chef Lidia Bastianich meets veterans and cooks a holiday dinner at the Naval Station Norfolk for the crew of the USS George Washington.

— "A Home for the Holidays," 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 23, CBS. Adoption and foster care are the focus of this special that includes inspirational stories and celebrity guests.

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Lynn Elber can be reached at lelber@ap.org and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lynnelber.

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