Last holiday season, I discovered something pretty cool and new tucked in among the myriad Christmas shows, movies, specials and music ... that should be starting in about a week or two and leading up to the Big Day on Dec. 25.
Stores in the area are probably getting ready to take down their Halloween decorations and might just skip putting out their Thanksgiving goodies in order to get their Christmas stash out and on the shelves.
I say new to me because last year was the first time I discovered the "Prep and Landing" franchise. First came "Prep and Landing" in 2009 and "Prep and Landing - Naughty vs. Nice" on ABC, which is one of the companies under the Disney umbrella.
Sandwiched between the 2009 and 2011 shorts was "Operation: Secret Santa - A Prep and Landing Stocking Stuffer." The 7-minute release was out in 2010 as a filler for the most classic holiday show of all time, "A Charlie Brown Christmas."
I like the computer-generated imagery in movies and specials that have become the norm these days. There is some really great artistry being done. But, I am a purest and think there's nothing better than hand-drawn cartoons. I like to see the pencil lines that appear in many of the early Disney animated movies.
But for what it's worth, the "Prep and Landing" tales have good stories to tell and the art is top notch.
In "Prep and Landing," Santa has a unit of elves who prep homes for his landing and visit. Wayne is one of the elves who was hoping for a promotion but instead is relegated to teaching a rookie elf the ins and outs of prep and landing. Wayne and his new partner, Lanny, are pushed to their limits and must make things right to save Christmas for everyone.
In "Prep and Landing - Naughty vs. Nice," Wayne and Lanny must save the day (no spoiler here because you know they saved the day in the first short, otherwise there wouldn't be a sequel) when elfin-good technology falls into the hands of ... a computer-hacking kid. Wayne needs to rely on his brother to help right from wrong this time.
In "Operation: Secret Santa - A Prep and Landing Stocking Stuffer," Mrs. Claus calls on Wayne and Lanny for a top secret mission into Santa's office to retrieve a mysterious item. The thing is, Santa is not on the "need to know" list, so the duo have to get in and out undetected.
These shorts are nothing short of cute ... very cute.
I make every effort to see a certain number of Christmas specials each year. "A Charlie Brown Christmas," "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," "The Year Without Santa Claus," "The Little Drummer Boy," "It's Christmas Time Again Charlie Brown," "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Frosty the Snowman" are on the must-try-to-see list.


The "Prep and Landing" shorts have now made the list.
I don't have to start watching them immediately after Thanksgiving. I'd rather check for the closest airing to Christmas Day and watch that showing. A cup of hot chocolate and some Christmas cookies or pastries are the preferred eats and drink for watching. Coffee or mulled cider will do in a pinch if hot cocoa isn't an option.
Even though it's way too early to break out the stockings and hang them with care or to hear the clop-clop-clop-clop of reindeer hooves on the roof, it might be OK to go to the basement and find the videotape of the Grinch or Charlie Brown and pop it into the videotape player.
I guess it all depends on whether I'm ready to hear the Whos in Whoville sing or hear Schroeder tickle the ivories while Snoopy dances.
Right about now, I'm more in a dancin' frame of mind.
On second thought, I'm feeling and little naughty so it might be nice to zip over to the Disney site and watch a little "Prep and Landing" now.

Sitarz can be reached at 943-2529 or via email at jsitarz@indexjournal.com. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.