Great collection of animated Christmas shorts which was issued on VHS in 1993 (used copies show up for sale online from time to time).
Simple Gifts includes: -- An original Maurice Sendak piece about a boy with nothing to give for Christmas -- An excerpt from the early part of Virginia Woolf's "Orlando" set in a time of extreme cold in Tudor-esquire England -- A short based on the Toonerville Trolley -- A bittersweet excerpt from Hart Crane's autobiography "Act One" narrated by Jose Ferrer -- A reading from the Christmas day entry from the diary of 11 year old Teddy Roosevelt -- A reading a letter by Captain Edward James Hulse describing the surprising Christmas Truce of 1914 -- An animated version by R.O. Blechmann's of his own book "Tutto Esaurito" (No Vacancy) about the travels of Mary and Joseph.
Each piece is good to great, but as a collection they are superb. The only downside is Colleen Dewhurst's live introduction, which comes across too harshly and theatrical for the quieter, more reflective pieces that follow, and her words don't add anything overall.
Still, her role is over in a few minutes and Simple Gifts is something to see every Christmas. Much is probably not interesting for kids under 8 to 10, but doesn't have anything parents might find objectionable with the possible exception of scenes of wartime.
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