Debuted in 1975
Plot in 3 Sentences: After insulting his friends and family, taking advantage of a local kid who is looking to earn a little extra Christmas money and being too lazy to celebrate the holiday, Fred falls asleep in his chair. In his dream, his son Lamont appears as the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future and shows him the error of his ways. When he wakes up, Fred sets out to make things right and joins his friends for a Christmas party.
Fun Fact: Redd Foxx’s real name was John Elroy Sanford and his character was named for his brother, Fred.
My thoughts: Sanford and Son was an American-ized version of the 1960’s British sitcom, Steptoe and Son. I grew up watching this show and it was much later that I learned that Redd Foxx was notoriously filthy in his standup act. It didn’t really surprise me. I can’t imagine anyone else playing this character, though. Like many 70’s sitcoms, the show had a lot of recurring bits that you waited for in every episode. You know Fred is going to insult Aunt Esther and he does so hilariously here, responding to her declaration of having the spirit of Christmas by telling her she also has the face of Halloween. You know he’s going to have a fake heart attack and claim he’s soon to join his wife, Elizabeth. But you also know that there’s a good heart inside this guy and this episode plays that up bigtime. He owns up to his behavior, which is something you rarely see him do and he unselfishly gives away his own gifts to make things right for the kid who helps him out. And the show closes with him singing ‘The Christmas Song’ amongst the rest of the cast and it’s surprisingly sweet.
Individual Superlative: The Actor of Sanford Future – Eric Laneuville appears in this episode as Ronnie Small, the neighborhood kid earning money to buy gifts for his parents. He plays a different recurring character in the final season as Aunt Esther’s adopted son.
Want to Watch it? Sanford and Son: Ebenezer Sanford is available on YouTube.