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How Very Special

I don't have to tell you Jeanketeers that Christmas is just around the corner, which means it's time for—you got it—TV Christmas specials. Even though I eagerly welcome the return of trusty old Rudolph and Frosty (who doesn't?), there's one type of special that's missing these days, and that's the old variety-show type with real singers and dancers. You know, like Andy Williams and Perry Como. Maybe some of you old-timers out there (don't worry, I won't give away your ages!!) remember the days when big music stars weren't too "cool" to wear red sweaters, drink steaming hot chocolate, and welcome a children's choir into their ski lodge.

What if one of the networks gave your old pal Jean a pile of money and let her direct her own holiday special? Well, it would go a little something like this...

Over a beautiful country snow scene, fade in. The title credits: "Jean Teasdale's Ho-Ho-Ho-larious Christmas! Sponsored by Reunite, Dolley Madison, Norelco, and Hallmark Cards." (Just like the old specials!) Then two dozen dancers in dazzling silver and gold costumes trimmed with white fur rush into view, spinning and frolicking. Only, unlike typical holiday-special dancers, they aren't skinny and leggy—they're all different sizes and shapes. Well, mostly sort of plump, like me. But no one tells them they aren't good enough or sexy enough. This special is all about inclusion.

Then the dancers line up in front of a charming, life-size gingerbread house and say in unison, "Ladies and gentlemen, here she is, that real-life vision of sugarplums herself, Jean Teasdale!" (Or something like that.) And then I come out, dressed in a long green skirt that looks like a conifer tree, and I sing "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree." (Technically, I don't sing very well, but this special would be all about fun and not judging, as well as inclusion.) And of course, everyone dances around me, and at the end of the song, there's a flash, and it's revealed that the dancers have transformed into tiny ornaments and cover my skirt! Imaginative, huh?

Now, every Christmas special has its little storyline. Here's mine: It's Christmas Eve, and I've sent hubby Rick to the store for Tom & Jerry mix, but soon afterwards, it started to snow, and he hasn't been seen or heard from for hours.

But of course, it's a holiday special, so there's plenty of comedy, music, and cheer to offset the gloom. Guest number one is none other than my crazy pal Fulgencio, the jolliest elf you've ever seen! "Girl, you look fabu!" he says in his boisterous way. (I'm no longer wearing the Christmas tree skirt, but a more comfortable and beautifully sequined sweatsuit.) I say I'm worried about Rick, and Fulgencio tells me that it's just as well he's not around, because get a load of what he has for me. In rolls a huge present. Fulgencio unties the bow, and out pops—be still, my heart—Patrick Swayze! "You've always been my biggest fan, Jean, and in the spirit of giving, this is for you," he says, tenderly taking my hand in his. He sings me the hottest version of "Merry Christmas Baby" ever, 10 times better than Elvis. It's all I can do to keep from bawling! Then, as a further surprise, Patrick Swayze suddenly turns into a gigantic chocolate statue, and Fulgencio and I eat him! (Nutty, huh?)

I haven't quite worked out the middle yet. I'm not sure if I should make Christmas cookies with Rosie O'Donnell (dressed as a nutcracker) or have an ice-skating segment inspired by Ice Castles. I'll definitely have a performance by the reunited ABBA, and also a segment of formal apologies from all the people who've fired me throughout the years. In the spirit of the season, I will forgive them all and invite them in to warm themselves at my hearth.

Bam! Bam! Who's that at my door? Why, it's none other than the Queen Diva herself, Miss Piggy! Miss Piggy is mad at me because she thinks she deserves to have her own special. To remind her about the Christmas spirit (and to keep from getting karate-chopped!), I coax her into singing "We Need A Little Christmas" with a bunch of adorable children dressed as Tiny Tim.

It's Christmas Eve and nearing midnight, and still no sign of Rick. I'm getting really worried. I don my fur-trimmed bonnet and cloak and set out to look for him. The land is beautiful and moonlit but sort of eerie at the same time. I approach a clearing and look up, and see a huge, looming figure in front of me! Oh, no—could it be the Abominable Snowman?

After the commercial break, I'm still cowering before the looming giant. But suddenly I realize that it's only a shadow being cast by hubby Rick! Jugs of Tom & Jerry mix in tow, he explains that he got lost in the snowstorm on his way back from the store. "But then I saw a very bright star shining in the heavens," he explains. "It cast a light down a path, and I followed the path, and a little while later, our house was in view." We sing "Silent Night," which is religious without being preachy.

No sooner do we get inside than we hear sleigh bells on the roof! Some loose soot and masonry tumbles into the fireplace. It's Santa Claus! Only this isn't just any Santa Claus—it's my dad! "Merry Christmas, Jeannie my daughter!" he cries. Everybody gasps in wonder, but I just groan. "He's actually a phony shopping-mall Santa," I say. "He left town earlier this year when his business failed, and he never paid me for all the work I did for him." But that's where I'm wrong—Dad reveals that he really is Santa. His eyes twinkle, he puts his finger to his red nose, and suddenly a huge pile of money and presents, all for me, materializes under my tree! Everybody cheers, and we all sing "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town."

After the final commercial break, I come out on the now-darkened set carrying a candle. I thank everybody for watching my special, and reading my column for all these years. I say that you're my favorite guest stars of all, and if I had one wish, it would be that everybody could have a holiday just like a holiday special. Oh, and also, I say that I'm looking for a job again, and if you know anyone who's hiring, let me know.

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