By Don Corrigan
That holiday favorite about “acorns roasting on an open fire” brings to mind Top 10 Christmas Squirrels & why we love them!
It’s impossible to enjoy the outdoors anywhere in North America without a squirrel scolding you from a tree limb, or a squirrel scampering across your path, or a squirrel playing “chicken” with you on the roadway when you’re driving. Squirrels are not just confined to the outdoors. They are in all the mass media that we consume and enjoy in the indoors. With that in mind, Environmental Echo offers a Top Ten of mass-mediated squirrels that we encounter in print and on our electronic devices. We humans must love them. We have made them the top virtual critters in our popular culture.
1.) Christmas Vacation Squirrel
Remember Chevy Chase’s movie when Aunt Bethany asks: “What’s that sound? You hear it? It’s a funny squeaky sound.” Uncle Lewis then responds: “You couldn’t hear a dump truck driving through a nitroglycerin plant.” The squeak was worse than a noisy dump truck. It was from the Christmas Vacation Squirrel. The production originally had a trained squirrel ready to wreak havoc on the Griswold holiday home, but it died the day before the scene was to be shot. An untrained squirrel was brought in to be chased by Uncle Eddy’s dog, Snot, which caused unanticipated mayhem. Today several online sites sell a “Christmas Vacation Attacking Squirrel” with motion sensor and sound!
2.) Foamy: Christmas Humbug Squirrel
Foamy is a sarcastic squirrel in the comic books know as Neurotically Yours. His Christmas rant about ungrateful humans in the holiday season is classic. Caring people must agree with the animated squirrel, despite his vulgar rants. Humans need to be thankful for what they have before the holidays – and for what they receive on Christmas Day. The squirrel seems like a humbug, but he only asks that people remember the meaning of Christmas. He suggests that maybe Christmas has never really had the meaning that we’ve been brought up to associate with it. The squirrel asks if people have always been “selfish jackasses.” Merry Christmas!
3.) Uncle Billy’s Wonderful Life Squirrel
You have probably seen the traditional Christmas Classic, It’s A Wonderful Life, at least 500 times. We all know that Uncle Billy has a trained crow that landed on him every time he was in the Baily Building and Loan. A squirrel only shows up at the end of a harsh encounter that George Baily has with Uncle Billy after he confronts him in anger over losing the $8,000 that he was supposed to deposit in the bank. It’s a short scene and Billy puts his head down on his desk to cry. The squirrel climbs up on his right arm to comfort him in his misery. That is a true Christmas Squirrel and the furry fellow deserves far more attention than that weird angel trying to earn his wings in the movie by rescuing George Baily from his loss and depression.
4.) South Park’s Squirrely the Squirrel
Small in stature, with a big round head and short little arms, Squirrely the Squirrel wears a bright red scarf and speaks softly. This is all incredibly misleading. Squirrely is part of a group of twelve Satan-worshiping woodland animals. They appear friendly, but they have the ability to conjure hellfire and demons. They originally appeared in “Woodland Critter Christmas” when they attempted to bring about the birth of the Anti-Christ so that Satan can rule the world. They are killed by Santa Claus when he shoots them with a shotgun. The twelve critters of the South Park Christmas are: Squirrely the Squirrel, Rabbity the Rabbit, Beavery the Beaver, Beary the Bear, Porcupiney the Porcupine, Skunky the Skunk, Foxy the Fox, Deery the Deer, Woodpeckery the Woodpecker, Mousey the Mouse, Raccoony the Raccoon and Chickadee-y the Chickadee. If you have no tolerance for South Park, you will loathe Squirrely the Squirrel.
5.) Great Rupert, a Vaudeville Christmas Squirrel
Joe Mahoney, played by Jimmy Durante, is a vaudeville performer who has fallen on hard times in the movie, The Great Rupert. Mahoney has to leave his best friend and stage companion, Rupert the dancing squirrel, in the town of miserly Frank Amendola. This is the town where the squirrel will have to fend for himself with the other squirrels and live in a tree. Unsatisfied with tree life, Rupert gains access to Frank’s home and then, unbeknownst to Frank, makes his bed in Frank’s hidden cache of money. Rupert the Squirrel decides to clear room in his domicile by throwing Frank’s money through a hole so that it floats down into the hands of those who really need it badly. The money comes at Christmas time and the blessed squirrel answers the prayers of those in need. It’s money from heaven at Christmas time thanks to Rupert the Squirrel.
6.) Sandy Cheeks, a SpongeBob Christmas Squirrel
Sandy Cheeks is a major character from the underwater, animated series SpongeBob SquarePants. She is a very smart, talented, purple squirrel from Texas and one of SpongeBob’s best friends. Sandy has appeared in SpongeBob Christmas episodes in which she is shown decorating her tree for Christmas. SpongeBob sees her turning on the lights on her tree and mistakenly believes that she has accidentally set her tree on fire. Sandy soon finds out that SpongeBob has never seen a Christmas tree nor even heard of Christmas before, so she tells him all about the holiday, which sets the episode’s plot in motion. Sandy has a larger role in the subsequent Christmas specials, including “It’s a SpongeBob Christmas.”
7.) Mr. Peanuts, A Smart Christmas Squirrel
When Mr. Peanuts the Squirrel receives an invitation to visit for Christmas from his cousin, he quickly packs his suitcase with lots of hand-knitted Christmas sweaters. He jumps into his convertible, and zooms through the snow to Cousin Squirrel’s house. The two squirrels enjoy a hazelnut latte, go sledding, and open presents. They discover Santa has left them peanuts. Mr. Peanuts is a children’s book squirrel that introduces youngsters to ordinary Christmas activities, but in a way that is magical. There are real life photos of squirrels doing holiday activities! Also in the book is the story of how the author came up with the book idea, based on squirrels in her Canadian home’s back yard. Mr. Peanuts is a smart Christmas squirrel and his story is a nifty addition to any Christmas book collection for the kids.
8.) Scaredy Squirrel Gets Ready For Christmas
Scaredy, otherwise known as Orville Squirrel, has an uncanny ability to teach children not to be obsessive, compulsive, or scared through his own paranoid adventures. Christmas festivities can hold an appearance of danger for shy and easily frightened children. The Scaredy Squirrel picture book offers advice to help kids cope with the chaos of the holidays and to overcome their fear of the season. ‘Tis the season for worrying, planning, decorating, wrapping, entertaining, caroling and, worst of all, fruitcake! Scaredy Squirrel offers a quirky safety guide to help youngsters and adults alike with practical tips and nutty step-by-step instructions to achieve a perfect Christmas. Lots of young “scaredies” out there love Scaredy Squirrel at Christmas.
9.) A Marvel: Christmas Squirrel Girl
No one wears a Christmas Cosplay Costume better than the amazing Squirrel Girl, a creature who appears in comic books, cartoons and video games. Squirrel Girl was all about satire when she first appeared on the scene. In 1992, a Squirrel Girl appeared in Marvel Year-In-Review ’92, where she made a one-panel appearance for comic fans. In the self-satirizing book’s Marvel 2099 section, “Squirrel Girl: 2099” was listed as one of “the 2099 books we’ve pretty much ruled out” as actual future titles. However, no one was laughing, or even smirking, when she came into her own in a new century. The bushy-tailed female and the renamed “Great Lakes X-Men” appeared in the GLX-Mas Special, a Christmas-themed production. Squirrel Girl is now the Superwoman of the video gaming set and has many fans among young girls who enjoy finding fun comics, colorful booklets and games about her under the Christmas Tree.
10.) A Nutsy Professor Christmas Squirrel
On the cover of the study, Nuts About Squirrels: The Rodents That Conquered Popular Culture, can be found the Nutsy Professor Christmas Squirrel giving instruction on the importance of squirrels. Nutsy describes the numerous appearances in the mass media over the years, from Beatrix Potter’s Nutkin and Tommy Tiptoes, to Rocky the Flying Squirrel of The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, to Conker and Squirrel Girl of video game fame. Nutsy examines how squirrel legends from centuries ago have found new life through contemporary popular culture with a focus on the various portrayals of the critters in books, newspapers, TV, movies, public relations, advertising and more. Bring the nutsy professor into your home for Christmas with Nuts About Squirrels: The Rodents That Conquered Popular Culture. Available in book stores, at Amazon Books, or just talk to the author, Don Corrigan, and get an autographed copy by calling him at 314-968-2699.