You Hope and I’ll Hurry
The day after Thanksgiving brings about more than just the anticipation of the forthcoming season. In my home, with my family, Christmas was always huge. That hasn’t changed in my home, nor should it.
What has begun to sink in for me is just how much of my own childhood has snuck in and taken root with my own children. I make no allusions about the fact that I watched entirely too much television as a kid. Even in an era when we had 3 channels. (Four if you included PBS, and I watched that every weekend for Monty Python and then Doctor Who) I don’t pretend that I didn’t nor do I think that it is responsible for my brain filled with miscellaneous information. My brain was going to fill with useless tidbits no matter what. So yes . . . I can rattle off just about every line of the mental exchange from the movie The Princess Bride but never could commit the Periodic Table of the Elements to memory. Thankfully the invention of Google and the proliferation of the iPhone and the internet have helped me to simply look up the atomic weight of Cesium. (It’s #55 on the chart, by the way, with a weight of 132.9054519. Told you!)
Every Christmas, for the weeks leading up to Christmas Eve, my brothers and I would wait in anticipation of the “Big 3” networks to run their competing Christmas programs. I don’t pretend this was some “golden era” of cartooning. We certainly have a lot of great animation today – my sons adored The Box Trolls in theaters and Pixar certainly raised the bar for motion picture storytelling.
Still . . . that’s film. Television has a thousand channels, generally nothing on them worth watching. The fact that cartoons are on all…the…time makes it hard to cherish any one of them that awful much.
So when Christmas comes around, the lack of repeating the classic Christmas cartoons I think gives them the same luster and anticipation they had when I was a kid.
The picture up there is from the Joel Grey centered cartoon ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. To this day, at any time, in any season, for any reason, a member of my family might burst into that phrase . . . and end with “even a miracle needs a hand!”
There was Rudolph with our favorite guy – Yukon Cornelius: “I’m just loading up on supplies. Hamhocks, gunpowder and guitar strings!” (How can you not love a guy carrying THAT combination on his sled!)
There was The Year Without a Santa Clause which inspired my son’s Halloween costume this year: Heat Miser!
But the granddaddy of them all was always A Charlie Brown Christmas.
We play the soundtrack every year. I even found it on vinyl and we use the turntable and listen to it. The vinyl’s green!
“I never thought it was such a bad little tree” is the go-to phrase for any pathetic looking thing, be it a tree, a cookie, a pie or a toy in our home. “It’s not bad at all, really, it just needs a little love!”
It’s not religion; it’s not sentiment; it’s not nostalgia . . . it’s just great fun. We love the season. I put too many lights on the house. I let the kids go nuts . . . even though there are clumps of decorations in spots on the tree rather than neatly arranged here and there. I give presents to my close friends because I thoroughly enjoy seeing the look of wonder when people open that present.
No, the animation wasn’t always great. No, the mouth didn’t always sync up with Fred Astaire’s words in Santa Claus. But . . . my kids, like kids and their parents the world over stay up late or beg to sit and eat dinner in the living room . . . because Charlie Brown will cry “learn the true meaning of Chrismas?! Win money, money money?!”
So watch we will, live, in real time, commercials and all. Because…
Christmastime is here. Happiness and cheer.