"Merry Christmas, Will Byers" would undoubtedly join the ranks of holiday classics, alongside the likes of "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" -- if only it were a real animated special. Instead it's a delightful, and perfectly maudlin, mashup of "Stranger Things" and "A Charlie Brown Christmas" that somehow manages to capture the tone (and spirit) of both.
Opening with the mournful notes of "Christmastime is Here," the short by Leigh Lahav and Oren Mendez finds Will Byers plagued by a feeling of unhappiness after his return from the Upside Down, and his friends unable to shake him from his malaise.
"Will Byers," says Dustin, playing Linus to Will's Charlie Brown, "You're the only person I know who can be rescued from a mysterious paranormal universe and still find a way to feel crummy about it."
However, not "psychiatric help" from Eleven, a chat with his mother or "soothing music" can make Will feel better about his experience -- until he's reminded that happiness is found in the people who truly care about you.
There are some terrific moments in the short, including an appearance by the "Demogorgon." But if you think "Merry Christmas, Will Byers" will end on a happy note, you obviously forgot about someone. And, no, it's not Peppermint Patty.