Tuesday, Dec. 23
A Home for the Holidays (CBS, 8-9 p.m.): Few sights are more profoundly moving than that of children who have found home and peace with those willing to love, provide for, and guide them. This special celebrates adoptive families, each soaked in affection, who treasure the meaning of family life and talk about it with sincerity. Pop singers such as Sheryl Crow, Mya, Enrique Iglesias, and Amy Grant perform, presumably to attract viewers, though their music is oddly unsuited for the subject.
Wednesday, Dec. 24
A Christmas Story (TNT, A 24-hour marathon beginning at 6 pm): The beloved contemporary holiday classic is based on four chapters in the 1966 book, "In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash" by radio monologist and humorist Gene Shepherd. In his affectionate satire of his own midwestern childhood, Shepherd introduces us to Ralphie, a boy who desperately wants a Red Ryder carbine-action, 200-shot, range-model air rifle for Christmas. But adults respond by telling him, "You'll shoot your eye out, kid."
Dreamkeeper (ABC, 9-11 p.m.): Most of us know Cinderella, Robin Hood, and dozens of cautionary tales (like "Little Red Riding Hood"), are imported from Europe, but how many of us know about indigenous folk tales such as "Coyote's Tricks" and "Star Woman's Wisdom?" This magnificent film uses wondrous special effects to create dream landscapes. As an old man travels with his grandson to a distant powwow, he tells the rebellious teenager stories along the way. The tales intertwine with their experiences on the road and, as the boy listens, he is led to do the right thing. He even comes to understand and forgive his father, who has been fighting alcoholism. Bravery, honor, loyalty, love, and forgiveness are powerful motives that illuminate this young man's "Red Path."