Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Harvest of Holiday Shows Worth Watching

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Harvest of Holiday Shows Worth Watching

Article excerpt

On television, 'tis the season for children. But that doesn't mean it has to be boring or condescending or even excessively sentimental. Nickelodeon presents a couple of specials worth watching for the little ones and their families.

As Told By Ginger: an Even Steven Holiday (Dec. 10, 8:30-9 p.m.) and A Rugrats Kwanzaa (Dec. 11, 8:30-9 p.m.) are designed to help children appreciate one another's cultural holidays. There are no religious messages in either of them, but the effort is to help children explore the idea of heritage without intolerance toward others.

Ginger (voiced by Melissa Disney) discovers that her grandfather was Jewish and decides to celebrate Hanukkah. But as she learns more about Jewish traditions, she becomes a little uncomfortable with Christmas celebrations, making her best friend, Dodie, feel shut out of Ginger's life.

Of course, she is only preoccupied, not selfish. Ginger also decides that she can't deny the other side of her heritage, and so she tries to hold an "even-steven holiday party" - half Christmas, half Hanukkah. It doesn't all work out as planned. But somehow, Ginger makes the best of the season.

Little Susie Carmichael is the smallest tot in her household when energetic Aunt T. (Irma P. Hall) comes to visit her family and brings loads of unusual gifts from Africa. The Rugrats gang shows up for their usual playtime, and Aunt T. teaches them all about Kwanzaa. But the most important point Susie learns is that greatness is not a matter of winning awards or being famous, but of living everyday with kindness and dignity. Not a bad lesson for anyone.

"Nickelodeon is committed to the idea that the kids on our programs look like the kids who watch it," says Nickelodeon's chief, Cyma Zarghami. "Diversity is something we celebrate every day, and we believe kids are everyday heroes...."

The Kwanzaa special was a way to put Susie Carmichael in the spotlight. "As Told By Ginger" is really about "tween" angst. Her father is absent, and she and her brother, being raised by their mother, miss him. So, Ginger's search for identity is more complex than just discovering a bloodline. …

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