1) “A Christmas Story” (1983) marathon, 8 p.m., TBS and 9 p.m., TNT. This modest movie does everything right. It captures a 1940s holiday through the hopes and fears of a boy (shown here) who simply wants a BB gun. Done with droll humor, it’s become a tradition for these networks. It runs every two hours for 24 hours, so one of the two will start it at the top of each hour.
2) “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946), 8-11 p.m., NBC. Hre’s another annual tradition. It begam as a short story by Philip Van Doren Stern, a historian and book editor. Unable to get it published, he printed it as 200 extended Christmas cards. Later, it was published and writer-director Frank Capra turned it into a black-and-white film about an angel showing a despondent banker (James Stewart) the effect he’s had. After a time in the public domain (where its popularity surged), it’s now back to limited use.
3) Animation, 8 p.m., ABC, and 8:30, Freeform. Kids may need some distraction, so here we go: ABC has “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” at 8 and “Shrek the Halls” at 8:30, with Disney’s “Prep & Landing” and its sequel at 9 and 9:30. Freeform has “Frosty the Snowman” at 8:30, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” at 9 and “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” from 10 to 11.
4) Music reruns. Two of the season’s best new specials overlap. From 7-10 p.m., E has “Annie Live”; from 9-11 (check local listings), PBS has “20 Years of Christmas with the Tabernacle Choir.” There’s more: CBS has a Dolly Parton special at 8 p.m. and a Kenny Rogers tribute concert at 9; E has this year’s Kelly Clarkson and Michael Buble specials, at 10 and 11.
5) Religion. All this fuss could obscure the religious basis of Christmas, but History offers back-to-back mini-series – “Jesus: His Life” at 7 a,m, and “The Bible” from 2 p.m. to midnight. Also, UPtv has a Christian-music special, “The Chosen: The Messengers,” from 7-9 p.m. ET. And at 11:30 p.m., NBC has Mass, from St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican