Elmo Saves Christmas is a sixty minute musical fantasy comedy television special released on PBS on December 2, 1996. It was released to VHS that same year. Inspired by the 1892 short story "Christmas Every Day" by William Dean Howells, Elmo learns that Christmas does not occur every day. The program was filmed in Sesame Street's usual home, the Kaufman Astoria Studios in New York City. Footage from the film It's a Wonderful Life also appears in the program and after the credits.
Elmo stays up on Christmas Eve to meet Santa Claus. He falls asleep, but is awakened by Santa stuck in the chimney, helps him out, and gets to choose either a soft toy or a magical snow globe. He chooses the globe and is granted three wishes, wasting his first wish on a glass of water.
On Christmas Day, Elmo, excited by all the joy and cheer, wishes for it to be Christmas every day. Everyone is excited, but Santa explains that Christmas would no longer be special if it occurs every day. Lightning, a reindeer-in-training, takes Elmo to the future to see the effects of his wish. Big Bird is sad that Snuffy is visiting his grandmother in Cincinnati, the Fix-It Shop is closed every day, It's a Wonderful Life plays on every channel, Santa’s elves never get a vacation, and the other holidays never come. However, Oscar the Grouch is the only character who enjoys all the misery.
By next Christmas, Sesame Street is ruined, the Count is "all Christmassed out,” the carolers have lost their voices, Christmas trees have become an endangered species, Big Bird cries over missing Snuffy, all the businesses have gone bankrupt, and Santa has retired to Florida. Elmo uses his last wish to make it Christmas how it used to be, but his snow globe breaks before the wish is granted. So he and Lightning go back to the Christmas Eve when Elmo pulled Santa from the chimney, and Elmo chooses a soft toy as his new gift.
Snuffy returns, telling Big Bird that his grandmother came to Sesame Street instead. In the end, Elmo learns that although Christmas cannot be every day, everyone can keep their Christmas spirit alive in their hearts every day.
- Maya Angelou as Herself/Narrator
- Charles Durning as Santa Claus
- Harvey Fierstein as the Easter Bunny
- 14 Karat Soul as Themselves
The cast of Sesame Street
- Emilio Delgado as Luis
- Sonia Manzano as Maria
- Desiree Casado as Gabi
- Bob McGrath as Bob
- Alison Bartlett-O'Reilly as Gina
- Roscoe Orman as Gordon
- David Smyrl as Mr. Handford
- Carlo Alban as Carlo
The Muppet Performers
- Frank Oz as Cookie Monster and Grover
- Jerry Nelson as Count von Count, Mr. Johnson, and News Flash Announcer
- Kevin Clash as Elmo, Baby Natasha, Benny Rabbit, Father, and Elf 3
- Fran Brill as Zoe, and Elf 2
- Joey Mazzarino as Lightning, and Elf 1
- Carmen Osbahr as Rosita
- Caroll Spinney as Big Bird, and Oscar the Grouch
- Martin P. Robinson as Mr. Snuffleupagus, Telly Monster, and Elf 5
- David Rudman as Baby Bear, Humphrey, and Elf 4
- Bryant Young as Rear End of Mr. Snuffleupagus
- Steve Whitmire as Kermit the Frog
- Geiss, Tony (12 July 1996). "Elmo Saves Christmas". Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
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