How I Survived Christmas 2012

Messin’ with Cratchit

As I mentioned in a previous post, Christmas can be a difficult time to get through. I decided on a multi-pronged approach to survive my 2012 Christmas season. The first tactic was to not travel. This was not originally part of the holiday plan, but as it turned out it was crucial. The second was a fairly standard tactic. Watch some good movies (and if I could, get my 10 year-old son to watch with me). The third tactic was to make sure I exercised. Normally that means cycling, but this year I turned back to running. It is still unclear to me why I did, but it has been a change of pace that has hit the right chord.

The holiday break began with a real treat. A revisitation of the Beatles Magical Mystery Tour. Originally shown on Boxing Day, 1967 in Great Britain, the PBS “Great Performances” presentation included interviews with some of the principal figures involved in the film. Including Paul and Ringo. It was followed by a re-airing of the film. My son was fascinated by it. The break ended with watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail. My son still talks about scenes from this movie.

Christmas Eve I had the idea of watching A Christmas Story. My son, however, is kind of at that stage where everything needs to be novel, and the idea of watching this movie again was not at the top of his list. We stepped through some of the movies that I had available on my Apple TV and towards the end was Scrooge. Also known as A Christmas Carol. And not just any version either, but the 1951 film starring Alastair Sim as Ebenezer. A few times during the movie I looked at Aidan and his face was contorted trying to figure out what the Dickensian dialogue was saying in modern English, but he got the gist of it. Wait ’til he groks the idea of this story being an indictment on 19th century capitalism, then, like his father, he’ll really enjoy it.

Of course, eventually, there is the scene of Scrooge’s (literal) awakening. I’m hoping that it is having the same effect on my family, but it is (as it always is) an overwhelming rush and tingling of joy. Scene after scene after Scrooge (Sim) awakes from his nightmare is pure indescribable joy. Eye-watering, head-shaking, manic-ridden joy! What makes Mr. Sim’s performance that much more complete are his interjected facial expressions of contrition between his fits of giddiness. He knows he has been a fool, and an ogre, and himself – a humbug. I would argue it is one of the most profound and moving performances of human metamorphosis in cinema. It is that reminder that we are a product of our past, and how we live and act in our present, will determine the type of future we will have.

So it may sound trite, but a film at least helped me to navigate Chrsitmas 2012. I’m already looking forward to a more joyous 2013. Happy New Year!


2 Responses

  1. It is good to spread the joy 🙂

    And in the spirit of sharing here is one of my favorite passages from the book:

    “But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”

    I think that says it all.

  2. Shannon, thanks for leaving that comment. It may be a post for another time, but I often think about 4 movies at Christmas time and how the character’s childhood affects their adult feelings for Christmas and where/when their hearts are “shut-up” as they move toward adulthood – Scrooge, It’s a Wonderful Life (not a Christmas movie per se), A Christmas Story, and Miracle on 34th Street ( in which the adults have already convinced a child that there is no place for “wonder”)

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