Gather ’round, kids, to hear about the olden days.
Believe it or not, there was a time when, in order to see a Christmas episode of one of your favorite TV shows, you had to either stumble upon it in syndication or hope TBS or Nick at Nite scheduled some sort of marathon.
Also, there were commercials.
Thanks to the rise of streaming, though, there’s still plenty of time for some last-minute holiday nostalgia, whenever and wherever you want it.
Here are some of the best Christmas episodes you can watch on Netflix and Hulu:
■ “Friends” (Netflix)
“The One With the Holiday Armadillo” (Season 7, Episode 10)
Come for the Holiday Armadillo — aka Santa’s representative for all the southern states and Mexico — Ross’ last-minute attempt to teach his son, Ben, about Hanukkah. Stay for another unsettling look at Phoebe’s childhood with her tradition of the Christmas Skull. Also, apparently, Monica has a thing for Santa.
■ “The Office” (Netflix)
“Christmas Party” (Season 2, Episode 10)
Grand gestures involving two of the show’s great loves — Jim and Pam’s long-gestating romance and Michael’s man crush on Ryan — come to a head at the Secret Santa party when, overcome by pettiness and spite after being gifted a hand-knitted oven mitt by Phyllis, Michael turns the party into a high-stakes game of Yankee Swap.
■ “The Wonder Years” (Hulu)
“Christmas” (Season 2, Episode 3)
Kevin needs to find just the right Christmas gift for his beloved Winnie, but he keeps getting distracted by his newest love: color television. It’s basically his version of a Red Ryder BB gun and, much like in “A Christmas Story,” at least one parent simply isn’t having it. “What do we need a color TV for?” his dad, Jack, grumbles. To which Kevin responds, “So you can watch things! In color!” Truer words have rarely been spoken.
■ “Cheers” (Netflix and Hulu)
“Christmas Cheers” (Season 6, Episode 12)
This one’s mostly remembered for Sam’s late-night Christmas Eve shopping excursion when he realizes he’s the only one who didn’t get Rebecca a gift. Woody, though, offers up a charming glimpse of what he’s missing back in Indiana during his first Christmas in Boston. “If I was home right now, I’d just be sittin’ around listenin’ to my aunt and uncle talking about who’s dead and who’s sick and who lost part of their head in a thresher.”
■ “The O.C.” (Hulu)
“The Best Chrismukkah Ever” (Season 1, Episode 13)
The episode taught the world — or at least teens and TV critics — about the wonders of Chrismukkah, the superholiday created by a young Seth Cohen to honor his Jewish dad and Protestant mom. “Highlights include eight days of presents followed by one day of many presents.” And Ryan thought his transition from the mean streets of Chino to the opulence of Newport Beach was disorienting.
■ Seinfeld” (Hulu)
“The Strike” (Season 9, Episode 10)
You can’t talk about bizarro alternate holidays without Festivus. This is the episode, named after Kramer’s ongoing feud with his onetime employer H&H Bagels, that introduced the Festivus Pole, the Feats of Strength and the Airing of Grievances. Throw in Bryan Cranston’s Tim Whatley and the only appearance of “Two-Face” — aka Gwen, the woman Jerry dates who looks radically different depending on the light — and this one’s overstuffed with goodness.
■ “Glee” (Netflix)
“Extraordinary Merry Christmas” (Season 3, Episode 9)
Having Artie direct the glee club in a black-and-white TV special that’s an homage to both “The Judy Garland Christmas Show” and the infamous “Star Wars Holiday Special” should be a hard thing to top. Then the gang turns up at a homeless shelter to sing “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” — including the line, “Well, tonight thank God it’s them instead of you” — right at the hungry children.
■ “Married … With Children” (Hulu)
“You Better Watch Out” (Season 2, Episode 13)
The only episode on this list to come with a warning label: “The following depicts a Bundy Christmas. It could be upsetting to small children. Parental guidance is suggested.” The new mall that’s killing Al’s shoe store hires a skydiving Santa as a promotion, but his parachute never opens and he crashes and dies in the Bundys’ backyard. “Come on, Marcy, cheer up,” Peg tells her traumatized neighbor. “It could’ve been worse. He could’ve landed on the picket fence.”