Debuted in 1963
Plot in 3 Sentences: After the Camp Swampy Christmas party, Sergeant Snorkle thinks he’ll be spending the holiday alone with his dog, Otto. General Halftrack shows up to invite him to spend Christmas at his house. After dinner, Sergeant Snorkle reads ‘The Night Before Christmas’ before he falls asleep, causing him to dream about Santa and an elf, portrayed in the dream by the General and Beetle Bailey.
Fun Fact: The Beetle Bailey comic strip has been running continuously for 65 years, making it one of the oldest comics still being produced.
My thoughts: When the Beetle Bailey comic strip started, Beetle was a college student. In 1951, he enrolled in the Army and the story became centered around his activities at Camp Swampy (based on cartoonist Mort Walker’s experiences at boot camp). This Christmas episode is one of only 50 animated shorts produced about these characters and it’s pretty run-of-the-mill. Beetle is portrayed (as usual) as bumbling and clumsy and Sergeant Snorkle is a little meat-headed. There’s a moment when General Halftrack shows Snorkle the gold whistle he received during his former days as a soldier in the battle of San Juan Hill. When they wake up on Christmas morning, he gives Snorkel the whistle as a gift. Then the short ends with a march into the kitchen for breakfast (led by Ms. Halftrack) where they all give a literal shout out for Christmas.
Individual Superlative: Most Intimidating Military Wife – General Halftrack’s wife could beat the crap out of pretty much anyone on the military base. I have to think she was the Army’s secret weapon.
Want to Watch it? A Christmas Tale is available on DVD and YouTube.