Why was it such a misfit?

This Misfit has an interesting story behind it, though said story has nothing to do with the production of the cartoon itself. The Christmas Gift Of Light, otherwise known as The Soulmates In The Gift Of Light, was a Canadian Christmas special that languished in complete obscurity for thirty years, until suddenly going massively viral for one reason: it showed up in an old photograph.

Here we see a typical 1992 family surrounded by typical 1992 artifacts: large furnitire-sized CRT with faux-wood accents, stacks of VHS tapes, SNES controllers strewn about the carpet. The mop-head in the center is Emily Charette, who dug up the photo years later but was mystified by the image of the fat cartoon elf on the TV. It was from nothing she could remember watching.

"It just drives you crazy. It's like when you think you can remember an actor's name or something is on the tip of your tongue," she told a CBC interviewer.

Searching for answers, she posted the photo online. Here's where the story typically ends: if you find the right forum of obsessed media nerds, they can usually suss out the identity of anything within hours. But not this time. This time NO ONE could identify the cartoon this elf came from. And like a lottery with no winner, it just kept growing and growing in popularity as more people participated.

Last summer the photo hit peak saturation, passed around between millions of people, all of whom failed to recognize the origin of the image. Being the writer of a fairly well-known Christmas special review depository, I got handed the image more than once. Despite seeing so many Misfits by this point, I couldn't identify it either. The style was very generic and looked like every other Christmas special from around the time it was made.

It took SIX YEARS for ONE PERSON to finally provide answers: Josh Rastia from Wisconsin found the source in a compilation VHS called "Christmas Cartoon Adventures." The second special on the tape was The Christmas Gift Of Light, which he promptly uploaded to YouTube, resolving the mystery.

In the meantime, the discussion had grown so loud that it attracted the attention of the cartoon's creator, Gabrielle St. George, who confirmed in a now-deleted tweet that the special DID air on Canadian television for five years before being sold internationally on VHS tapes like that one. So it qualifies, and thus, I MUST cover it here or I will never hear the end of requests for it.

The Christmas Gift Of Light seems to be a retitle. The opening credits screen displays the original name, The Soulmates In The Gift Of Light...we'll get to possible reasons for the name change later. Anyway, this one opens in a nondistinct village where a blue man and a cigar-chomping unshaven elf are running around terrorizing people. The blue guy has a magic wand he's using to bring misery to whoever and whatever he runs across...for example, when he sees a stray cat, he zaps up a pair of electric hands to lift it into a tree, where it gets stuck. "Heh heh, we'll spread negative energy throughout the ENTIRE world!" he cackles to the unshaven elf. They haven't revealed Mr. Blue's name yet, but I just HAVE to point it out early: "Angris McBragg." Beautiful.

At the same time Ella, a blonde-haired blind girl, is about to go on a walk with her seeing-eye dog, Truman. McBragg spots the dog, and zaps his eyes to make him disoriented. Clueless, Ella walks into the street and is nearly run over! Truman has no idea what happened and feels shamed. "Perhaps I'm getting too old for this...I must be losing my OWN eyesight," he despairs. McBragg and the elf laugh again while getting into their flying limousine sleigh. Where'd he get that? Who IS this guy anyway? Is he related to Santa? It's never explained.

But speaking of Santa, he doesn't feel much better than the dog. McBragg has apparently been at this for a while now and is very good at it. Santa has no idea -- he just assumes the numbers of Naughty have been rising on their own. He sighs at his monitoring station, telling the audience he's losing hope in humanity -- and himself. The earth needs help. The earth needs....THE SOULMATES!

Here they are, Orion and Orillia -- two aliens from outer space who ride the cosmos on surfboards to places they are needed. Orion talks like a surfer, because it's a cartoon from 1991 and SOMEONE had to. They get their mission information from....the Sun? The moon? A giant floating glowing head? The head tells Orion and Orillia that Christmas is in danger of vanishing because everyone is too negative and cruel now. The Soulmates are on the case!

As they travel to our planet we get the Soulmates Theme Song, a soft-rock ditty scored with an 80s Casio. "Everybody needs a SOULMATE! Somebody to communicate! We all need a Soulmate, yeah, that's how it oughta beeeee." I guess that's hard to argue with.

Back on Earth, we see the elf from earlier, implanted by McBragg into Santa's workshop. He was just hired and no one saw anything suspicious about him, even though he's the only elf smoking a stogie. Comet, the leader of the reindeer (in this special anyway) is the only one giving him a funny look. Viral Elf From The Photo, who was not given a name, points out he was highly recommended from his references. And no, he's not checking the origin of those references; he's too lazy.

At the dog's house, he's having a crisis of confidence. Truman still can't get over what almost happened to Ella on his watch. He decides she's better off without him, packs a bag, and leaves the house while she's sleeping. He's really letting this one mistake get to him. Also, she's far MORE likely to get run over by cars if the dog isn't there at ALL...

While flying in the sky, Comet runs into the alien Soulmates and immediately screams, assuming they're giant bugs. After he calms down, he accepts their offer of help, not because he has any idea who they are, but because he's desperate. You see...Santa has run away as well! If Comet can't track him down, Christmas is doomed!

"You'll never scope him out if you lose hope," says Orion. "Believe you'll find Santa and it'll happen!"
"It can't be that easy," says Comet. Of course it can, this is a Christmas special. Those are practically the laws of physics.

At that moment, McBragg's limo sleigh comes out of nowhere and buzzes past all three of them in the sky. When the smoke clears and the limo is is Orillia. Kidnapped!

As improbable coincidence would have it, the runaway Santa and the runaway dog have picked the same park bench to rest at. This makes them easy for Comet and Orion to find.

"Don't I know you from somewhere?" Truman asks, eyeing Santa suspiciously.
"Uhh, no, I don't think so! San--er, Claus is the name!" I don't think that alias would work on most people. It does fool the dog, though. "Nice to meet you, Claus."

"Santa, we found you!" Comet says, approaching the old man. "And just in time to save Christmas!"
Santa, however, insists he's not going back, and that the spirit of Christmas has been lost.

No matter what he says, Comet just can't convince the pair to return to the places they belong. He asks Orion if he has any ideas.

"Certainly!" Orion says. "I can use my Soulmate powers to contact my Soulmate Orillia! Together our outrageous powers will combine into exalted majesticness! See it, believe it, make it come's called Magic Imagining!"
What all that surfer-talk boils down to is that Orion and Orillia have the power to make people feel good about themselves. It is not unlike the Care Bears, except they do it by shooting beams out their heads, not their bellies. In fact, this whole setup is exactly like Care Bears...some Canuck with a lot of cash must have thought that property would be even more successful if it was sci-fi.

The Soulmates' Care Bear Stare -- er, Positivity Beam drifts its way to Ella's house, where she's writing a letter to Santa on her typewriter....wait, isn't she supposed to be blind? Or is this a typewriter with Braille keys? They sold such things, so I'm just going to assume that's what we're looking at. When Ella finishes and sits down for a nap, the beam comes through her window, carries the letter away and brings it to Santa.

When Santa reads the letter, he realizes there is at least one good person still left in the world, and he's moved to tears. He's convinced to return to the Pole.
And when Truman realizes the letter was from Ella, HE'S convinced to return to HER. It's about how she misses him and wouldn't replace him with anyone. One problem solved, onto another one.

At the North Pole, Angris McBragg has taken over, and he now has the power to put his most sinister plan into motion. On Christmas morning, every child in the world will get a toy of his own design, shaped like his assistant elf. That elf's name is in DOUBTING Thomas! The toys will shoot out beams of negative energy that will make everybody on Earth doubt themselves, ushering in a new era of apathy! Orillia, trapped in a cage, insists their plan will never succeed becase Orion and Comet will come to stop them. To this, McBragg insists on using Orillia as a test subject for the doll.

Boy, it really works! Despite her best attempts to radiate positivity, Orillia is turned into a bag-eyed grouch just like Thomas. All she needs is a cigar to complete the look...and she'd totally ignore the health risks of smoking now!

Orillia's in too deep for Orion to connect with her now. He needs more Magic Imagining to pull that off! He tells Comet to join him, but Comet isn't very experienced with projecting psychic highs on people.
"It's easy!" Orion tells the reindeer. "See it, believe it, and make it come true!" Comet repeats those words over anf over, they begin to float in the air, and energy beams start swirling around them. Then the beam shoots toward the North Pole and hits dead center on Orillia, curing her.

"I gotta hotfoot it! Destination: Pole City!" Orion quips. There's actually not much left for him to do there. His Love Beam was so powerful that it even affected Thomas, who's voicing concerns to McBragg about the appropriateness of the doll that once bore his likeness. "Dontcha think it's sorta scowly?" he says.

"Evil dolls are SUPPOSED to be scowly!" McBragg points out, before he notices Orillia has escaped and seems to be better. He says it doesn't matter, for his dolls are about to be delivered to every house in the world -- personally! Everything is packed and loaded. The only thing missing is the reindeer, who refuse to participate, but McBragg just declares he'll "hitch up the elves" instead. Since when can they fly?

At that moment, though, Santa and Truman arrive through the front door. And thanks to the new techniques he's gleaned from his new alien friends, Santa can instantly change all the Doubting Thomas dolls into GOOD dolls that say positive things like "Believe in yourself"! McBragg yells in agony, partly because he hit his head on the low ceiling (a running gag).

As the cartoon heads into its final minute, Santa takes off in the real sleigh with Truman, Thomas and the Soulmates. The first thing he's going to do is bring the dog back home to Ella. "Merry Christmas, Truman. I'm glad we learned to both believe in ourselves again."

As for Angris McBragg, that's unresolved. He managed to escape in his flying limo sled, and his current wherabouts are unknown. It's my belief he's still out there and he ultimately accomplished his goal as the true founder of Twitter.

Why didn't it fit in?
The Christmas Gift Of Light is probably more famous now than it has ever been in its multi-decade existence, but you realize, it doesn't reflect very well on this special that ZERO PEOPLE out of a gazillion could identify a screenshot from it. It's basically famous for being not famous. But its ambitions were probably the opposite.

Whenever you see a cartoon special from the 80s or 90s that's titled "CHARACTER NAME in: CHARACTER NAME'S CHRISTMAS SPECIAL," and this is the first and only time CHARACTER NAME has ever appeared in anything, the odds are greater than 75% that whoever made that special had motives beyond it. They had a franchise in mind. They wanted to introduce a merchandisable character, convince investors to bankroll a few million plushies, and get them in stores. The Soulmates were very likely intended to be that sort of thing. Their resemblance to the Care Bears is not a conicidence. But conttrary to the special's song, no one needed a Soulmate.