It's not about the presents. Or family, or Jesus. Christmas is really about Rankin-Bass's timeless seasonal specials. Here's a look at the animation studio's Top Five:
1. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer -- R-B's first outing remains the standard by which holiday TV is judged. Features a resonant message of tolerance in the Island of Misfit Toys, plus star-making performances by the Abominable Snowman (pictured) and aspiring-dentist elf Hermey.
2. Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town -- The epic saga of Santa's origin: A junior Kris Kringle overcomes the evil Burgermeister, dons a red suit, and hands out gifts with the help of a penguin. Made in 1970, it's an era-friendly peace-and-love trip that holds up equally well today. (8 p.m. Wednesday and 10 p.m. Thursday, December 25; ABC Family.)
3. Year Without a Santa Claus -- Good clashes with evil as Santa skips out on Christmas, leaving a pair of elves to battle Heat Miser and Snow Miser for the soul of Southtown, U.S.A. Creepy characters fuel R-B's last classic. (8 p.m. Sunday and 9 p.m. Wednesday; ABC Family.)
4. Frosty the Snowman -- It's a faithful, if a little flat, telling of the familiar tale. Jimmy Durante's ha-cha-cha narration saves Rankin-Bass's foray into traditional animation.
5. Rudolph's Shiny New Year -- As far as sequels go, it's no Godfather: Part II. But it's no Matrix Reloaded either. (6 p.m. Sunday and 10 p.m. Wednesday; ABC Family.) -- Michael Gallucci
Health on Earth
The macrobiotic way to live.
Madonna and Gwyneth are big on the macrobiotic diet; followers claim it helps you get the most life out of food, if not exactly make you look like Madonna or Gwyneth. "It's the search for longevity and good health," says Francois Roland, who leads the Winter Macrobiotic Cooking Series. Basically, the diets consists of a whole lotta grains and locally grown fruits and vegetables. No animal products are allowed; neither are tropical fruit, imported spices, and sugar. Additionally, "tomatoes have only been growing here for 400 years," which, according to Roland, is not enough time for food to adapt to local nutritional needs. But hey, at least you'll look good. Things start cooking at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Macrobiotic Center of Cleveland (1793 Radnor Road in Cleveland Heights). Fee is $30; call 216-371-3222. -- Nadia Michel
Win With Skin
The applause meter is a contestant's best friend at the weekly Hot Body Contest Search. Every Thursday, Posh Nite Club invites the buff and the beautiful to dance onstage for 30 seconds, vying for the cheers of the crowd. "By the way people applaud, it's usually what [contestants] are wearing" that determines the victor, admits Troy Baker, one of the bar's managers. At the end of the contest's run, the hottest of the hot will pocket $1,000 and snag a trip to either Cancun or Las Vegas. "Bring friends," Baker advises. "It's the only way you're going to win." The Search begins at 8 p.m. at Posh Nite Club, 1 West Exchange Street in Akron. Admission is free. Call 330-253-7674 for more information. -- Cris Glaser