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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Once Upon a Sesame Street Christmas is a sweet story about holiday spirit and the importance of kindness. The story alternates between a modern-day setting in which Elmo's father tells him a bedtime story and the 19th-century origins of friendliness on Sesame Street itself. Most characters begin as curmudgeonly and irritable, but through the influence of a cheerful new arrival, they discover the joy and holiday spirit of sharing, caring, and being kind. While Christmas gets the biggest billing in the story, many characters make references to other timely holidays like Kwanzaa and Hanukkah and the traditions that go along with them. Special guests Audra McDonald, Jim Gaffigan, and Zosia Mamet join the Sesame Street gang for this heartwarming musical holiday special that's fun for kids and parents to enjoy together.
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What's the story?
In ONCE UPON A SESAME STREET CHRISTMAS, Elmo wonders about the tradition of leaving cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve, which inspires a story of long-ago Sesame Street, known far and wide as "The Unfriendliest Street in Town." When Elmo's great-great-great-grandmonster, also called Elmo, first arrives on Sesame Street just before Christmas, he finds it an altogether dreary place sorely lacking in holiday spirit. Determined to change that by spreading kindness, he befriends a young girl named Smudge, and together they try to spread holiday cheer so Santa will visit Sesame Street for the first time.
Is it any good?
This story celebrates holiday cheer by showing what it's like to be without it, and everyone can agree that Sesame Street just isn't the same without friendly neighbors and sunny days. The doom and gloom that hangs over the community and its people is no way to anticipate Christmas, but Elmo of old is determined to change that -- and this one spark of joy makes its way up and down the street in surprising fashion. Not only is this great for Sesame Street residents, it's also an excellent reminder of the value of even the smallest acts of kindness.
Once Upon a Sesame Street Christmas is lively, spirited holiday entertainment that's great for families to enjoy together. Kids might find the jumps between the two storylines a bit confusing (especially given that all the characters' ancestors share their descendants' names), but the songs and spirit of the kindly messages stand out regardless.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about their own holiday traditions. Which ones did you see reflected in Once Upon a Sesame Street Christmas? How do your traditions reflect your cultural heritage?
Kids: What opportunities do you get to spread kindness to others in your family, at school, and around your community? How does it feel to have kindness shared with you? Can these small actions have a big impact on others?
Why are the Sesame Street characters so popular? Which one is your favorite? Is your community as diverse as this street?
- In theaters: November 25, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: October 10, 2017
- Cast: Jim Gaffigan, Audra McDonald, Zosia Mamet
- Studio: HBO
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Holidays, Music and Sing-Along, Puppets
- Character strengths: Compassion
- Run time: 60 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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