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Some Christmas Traditions Just Need to Die

Stocks in this article: TWX FB TWTR MSFT AAPL GOOG WMT AMZN

Even at the office, the traditional Christmas party has just about nothing to do with the holiday itself. While it's lovely if some kindhearted Fezziwigs in the upper echelons throw one, Battalia Winston notes that 42% are doing so just to boost morale. A lucky 38% are patting themselves on the back for a good year. Only 16% cited "tradition" or "celebrating the holidays" as their primary purpose.

It's tough to embrace either of those first two reasons when you're among the 6% of companies planning to consolidate next year. With half of the companies not throwing holiday parties saying it's just not in the budget this year, maintaining tradition would likely come at the cost of bonuses or, worse, someone's job. With that in mind, perhaps just keeping staffers employed is the best tradition a company can uphold.

But what about the simple pleasures of hearth and home? Sure, fewer people are buying Christmas albums, but that doesn't mean they're not paying for Christmas music. Streaming activity was up 24% in the first half of this year and services including Pandora (P), Rdio, Spotify and iTunes Radio take pride in their extensive playlist and their wide array of holiday offerings. They and Sirius XM's (SIRI) seven holiday channels reap the windfall of a holiday listener base tired of hearing Burl Ives' Holly Jolly Christmas, Brenda Lee's Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree and Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas Is You played 18,000 to 20,000 times on stations across the U.S. between Dec. 1-25 alone -- according to Nielsen Soundscan.

Don't shed any tears for It's A Wonderful Life or beloved stop-motion animation Christmas specials, either. Those Rankin-Bass productions and their dear friend Charlie Brown are all pushing half a century old and performing admirably next to new specials featuring computer animated DreamWorks and Disney (DIS) Pixar characters. Also, they live on quite happily in the on-demand queues of Apple, Amazon (AMZN), Wal-Mart's (WMT) Vudu and elsewhere and may see a day when they join National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and Love Actually in the warm embrace of Netflix (NFLX), Hulu, Amazon and Redbox (OUTR) streaming services. Holiday tradition shouldn't require a time slot.

Speaking of which, Jimmy Stewart and company just aren't benefiting from the multiple holiday airings they got in the late '70s and early '80s when the movie's images of Bedford Falls, the run on the bank and Clarence's trip through memory lane fell briefly into the public domain. If It's A Wonderful Life wasn't held to just two airings by NBC each year, there's a chance it wouldn't have been supplanted by the nation's newest favorite on-screen holiday tradition: Time Warner (TWX) and Turner Broadcasting's 24-hour marathon of A Christmas Story.

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