Fear of Santa Clause TV Edition Pt 1 (Tales From the Darkside, S3: Seasons of Belief, 1986)
Tales from the Darkside was a creation of George Romero. It ran for four seasons, with each episode being half an hour. It was a more horror themed take on the Twilight Zone.
The episode Seasons of Belief is about a family in which the kids express no Christmas spirit. They are upset that they cannot watch TV on Christmas Eve. They are bored, speak ill of Santa and so on. The parents start telling their children a story about “the Grither”. He is an angry Christmas Spirit who seeks out anyone who calls his name. The parents start weaving in odd folklore and songs about the Grither. Of course, the kids (already not believing in Santa Clause) keep calling his name after the parents tell them he will come to find them.
The kids become more and more frightened of the made up monster. The parents, instead of calming the fears keep making them worse. The twist calls into question the nature of the story. Is the intense fear of the children giving the story life? Is it truly old folklore, speaking to something very real?
This is a really well done holiday episode, anchored by a good performance from E.G. Marshall. In spite of facing a very limited budget, the story is effectively told so as to overcome those limitations.