This is Jack’s third Christmas. He was almost 2 months old for his first. He’s starting to “get it”. So, we decided that once a week we will watch a different kid’s Christmas movie. We, naturally, started with the ones that Allison and I grew up with. The ones that we hold in the recesses of our minds as being indelible parts of our early understanding the the holiday season. Frosty the Snowman, The Little Drummer Boy and, of course, Rudolph to name a few.
Some things are not as I remembered them.
The coach that teaches reindeer how to fly encourages the other children to ostracize Rudolph for being slightly different. Santa comes across as a total dick, as he is pressuring Rudolph to be NORMAL, dammit, or you’ll never fly with the big boys! And, yeah, I had completely forgot about the ice-licking prospector and the elf that dreams of a future in orthodontics. If you look too closely it starts to seem like Santa’s Work Shop is being managed by a salty ex-con and a gaggle of scared children that don’t want to buck the system.
Frosty the Snowman is basically the story of how a rabbit steals a homeless magician’s hat, despite the interluded justifications of Jimmy Durante. Then Frosty tricks a girl into nearly dying of exposure in order to get him to the North Pole, only to be followed by this magician who is now so desperate he’s attempting to murder Frosty. Dramatic? Absolutely, and needlessly so.
Now, what I described above is how I, George Ricciardella, am viewing these things. Seeing them through the eyes of a 34 year old recovering cynic that used to think he was right about everything. I’m seeing them through the filter of a man that has had decades to allow the world to erode a little bit of his soul. This is not how Jack is seeing these things. Jack is seeing a flying reindeer with a beautiful, blinking red nose. He’s hiding behind his father’s arm when the shadow of the Abominable Snowman shows up. He is laughing as a rabbit bounces around with his feet sticking out of a shabby top-hat because DAMMIT that is funny. Jack is two years old and his world is just bliss. It’s bliss and it’s magic. MAGIC! The animation doesn’t look cheap and the stop-motion doesn’t look outdated to him. To him, he is seeing Santa laughing rather than hearing about it from me and his mother and it’s putting a smile on his face the size of the sun. He’s seeing a white-bearded man in red at the mall and saying “Santa” and that smile is creeping onto my face as well.
Recently I’ve come to embrace the idea that magic does exist. You probably feel it sometimes. Even if it’s just when something so amazingly unlikely happens. Something that all the odds are against happening. I used to work my ass off to just write so much stuff as “coincidence”. To me, that was just easier. It made more sense when I was living in a mindset in which I just needed to KNOW everything and refused to simply BELIEVE. Or even a person that just makes you feel so amazing. An individual that makes you so happy to be alive right now. To me those people are magic.
Magic happens. Everyday. You’ve just got to be willing to look for it.
We never had any doubt that we’d play the same song and dance when it comes to Santa that was played with us. To Jack, Santa exists and he’ll be coming on Christmas to give the good boys and girls presents. We will bake cookies and put them out with a glass of milk and, however it may happen, some of those cookies will be gone and half of that milk will be gone the next morning.
The world will get to have it’s way with Jack. He’s given us so much magic in his short time on this planet. The least we could do is indulge him in a little bit of our own.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.