VARIOUS, DECEMBER

Picturing Mary

PBS, check local listings

“Those holy heads are too near together for the haloes not to mingle and cross,” wrote G.K. Chesterton about Jesus and His Mother. The Catholic Communication Campaign and Thirteen/WNET have produced this beautiful overview of representations of the Mother of Christ in paintings, sculpture, mosaics and other media over the past two millennia. Husband-and-wife team James Keach and Jane Seymour narrate.

VARIOUS, DECEMBER

The American

Christmas Carol

PBS, check local listings

Pianist, composer and conductor Tim Janis traces the history of beloved Christmas carols and leads guest stars, his own ensemble and a 50-voice choir in performing traditional carols and new ones he has composed.

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 6

Alaska Teen Rescue

A&E, 9 a.m., 3 p.m.

In a 10,000-square-mile area around Aniak, Alaska, the Dragon Slayers, an emergency medical and rescue team of Eskimo and Inuit girls ages 13-17, do everything from treating heart attack victims to saving stranded bush pilots. Advisory: TV-PG.

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 6

How St. Nicholas

Became Santa

EWTN, 4 p.m.

As he narrates the true story of St. Nicholas of Myra, Deacon Bernie Marquis helps children see that Christmas is all about the birth of Jesus.

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 6

White House Christmas 2006

Home & Garden TV, 8 p.m.

Come inside the White House for your own private tour as designers decorate the executive mansion for the president and first lady’s Christmas celebrations.

THURSDAY, DEC. 7

Man, Moment and Machine

History Channel, 6 p.m.

This episode, “Lincoln and the Flying Spying Machine,” tells the story of the design, manufacture and deployment of the Union Army’s hydrogen observation balloons under Thaddeus S.C. Lowe in the Civil War. The balloons hovered at up to 5,000 feet.

FRIDAY, DEC. 8

Solemn Mass of the

Immaculate Conception

EWTN, 8 a.m.

On Dec. 8, 1854, Pope Blessed Pius IX, in his constitution Ineffabilis Deus, defined that the Blessed Virgin Mary “in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin.”

FRIDAY, DEC. 8

Christmas Specials

PBS, 8 p.m.

At 8 p.m., watch this stop-motion animated special from 1964, Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, which actor-singer Burl Ives narrated. Two more specials follow: At 9 p.m., Frosty the Snowman and at 9:30 p.m., Frosty Returns.

Dan Engler writes from

Santa Barbara, California.