How ‘The Simpsons’ Showed Us the Meaning of Christmas From Day One

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At the start of this year’s Every Simpsons Ever marathon, showrunner Al Jean revealed that he wanted to wrap the series exactly where it began: with the Simpsons arriving at Springfield Elementary for Bart and Lisa’s Christmas pageant. “Careful Homer!” Marge nags as Homer speeds to the school through a snow storm. “I have no time to be careful, we’re late!” He instantly slams into a small snow bluff. The show’s first full-length episode, “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire,” commonly referred to as “The Simpsons Christmas Special,” debuted 25 years ago today. Until this night in 1989, The Simpsonsexisted solely in animated shorts on The Tracy Ullman Show. This Christmas special was initially intended to be the eighth episode of the series, but technical problems led to a last-minute reordering of the season. (The original first episode, “Some Enchanted Evening,” aired as the season-one finale.) Early Simpsons critics like George H.W. Bushderided the show for its presumed depravity. But this very first, still-funny episode shows that family values were always an intrinsic part of the show’s DNA. (more…)