Now that the Christmas season is about to begin, video stores are astir with taped tidings of the season waiting to be taken home for the night. Most of the offerings, in fact, are priced to sell for year-round injections of the holiday spirit; if you're planning on a video diversion for your next holiday gathering, you might do best by buying the tape outright, since rental copies are going to be in high demand.

While most classic Christmas movies have long been available on tape, two of the funniest -- and best -- examples of the mini-genre were inexplicably overlooked by video companies in the past; this year, MGM/UA Home Video has rectified the oversight and put them out at $24.95. "Christmas in Connecticut" (1945) casts Barbara Stanwyck as a single career girl who has found great success writing the "Diary of a Housewife" column for a homemakers' magazine. When a publicity stunt calls for her to take in a Navy hero for the holidays, her inability to make home (or cook breakfast, or fold diapers) makes for timeless farce. And one of the most beloved movies ever to come out of Hollywood, "The Shop Around the Corner" (1940), casts James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan as sales clerks in a busy Budapest store at Christmas; the complicated tale of romance, mistaken identity and work-place rivalries comes from director Ernst Lubitsch, who considered it his finest comedy.

Those old standards of the season are also back, many at new low prices. "The Bells of St. Mary's" has been visited by the colorizing elves since last season, and makes its full color debut at $24.95; the original monochrome version will also be available at the same price. "White Christmas," a top seller last year at $19.95, returns, joined at that price for the first time by "Holiday Inn," "Going My Way" and "Miracle on 34th Street" (the original, black and white print). Because "It's a Wonderful Life" is in the public domain, it can be had at a variety of prices from a variety of sources (on tapes struck from prints of varying quality); Republic Pictures Home Video claims to have the only "uncut" version, which it sells for $24.95. The 1951 British adaptation of "A Christmas Carol" starring Alistair Sim is priced once again at $29.95, while the more highly regarded 1938 MGM version remains unavailable on tape.

The Obscenity Suit Attorney General Edwin Meese is the target of a lawsuit filed this week by the Adult Video Association (along with a video store operator and a Los Angeles sex therapist) that seeks to bar the enforcement of certain federal obscenity statutes. According to AVA cochairman Perry Ross, the association hopes to "challenge the constitutionality of various federal statutes contemplated by the Meese commission." An attorney close to the case acknowledges that its timing is related to a recent court order enabling the government to seize assets from three Northern Virginia residents found guilty of selling four tapes and six magazines that were judged obscene. "We're not challenging the government's right to obscenity laws," says an attorney close to the case, who contends that the problem for retailers and consumers alike is uncertainty over the laws as they stand. Says Ross, "People who would otherwise go into the business of selling sexually oriented materials are now afraid to, so the government is essentially censoring us."

Score One for Vestron "Platoon" may or may not have moved one step closer to home screens, depending on which litigant you listen to. A California District Court ruling late last week upholds the injunction barring HBO Video's distribution of the tape, and while the case itself has not been decided, the California judge predicted "a likelihood of success" for Vestron Video's copyright suit. "Any financial hardship inflicted upon HBO is largely its own doing," stated the court. "Vestron should not have to suffer the consequences of HBO's calculated decision to deal with {production company} Hemdale under the circumstances."

Vestron is hailing the decision as a qualified victory if not a decisive triumph, and is "hopeful that a quick resolution will follow," according to Vestron Chairman Austin O. Furst Jr. HBO, on the other hand, sees the situation as "status quo," according to a spokesman; although it has asked the court to triple the bond that Vestron was required to post as part of the injunction. But "Platoon" may soon be at hand; Hemdale, which started all the trouble to begin with, may step into the peacemaking process by asking the court to help put together a settlement conference.