Even the decked halls, jingling bells, and chestnuts roasting on an open fire may leave us feeling one bowlful of jelly short of jolly this holiday season, but there seems to be a sense of determination amongst the people I know that a quiet joy must prevail.
Let’s face it—between the state of the economy and mounting global insecurity, feeling even a quiet joy isn’t all that easy to come by. So to convey a sense of unyielding optimism and glee seems as gauche as the new-money approach of flaunting what your Google stock gave you… before the market took it away.
In fact, the mood is so understated that even we Pollyanna types are playing it down this year. We must dress up our holiday spirit in a somber New England burgundy and black plaid instead of the cherry So Cal sequins we’d normally razzle-dazzle them in.
And dang it if all of this doesn’t point to the makings of “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” when my holiday heart belongs to Buddy in the movie “Elf.”
Don’t get me wrong, Charlie Brown’s Christmas special is undeniably sweet and nostalgic, but it is actually a source of marital discord in my house. It started early in our marriage when my husband brought home the soundtrack and pushed “play,” expecting me to feel as tickled as he did to have the music of our childhood fill our house. He never expected mockery. Silly man.
Within the first verse of “Christmastime is Here,” I was cackling deliriously. Could they possibly be singing “Christmastime is here, happiness and cheer” with a score better suited for a pink-slip party?
Geez, that’s like frowning when telling people you’ve never been happier, leaving half the food on your plate after declaring it the best meal you’ve ever had, or breaking up with someone you “love too much.”
When watching the show, my giggles only grow when Charlie shouts to Violet: “Don’t you know sarcasm when you hear it?” after thanking her for a Christmas card she never sent him. It makes me wish I had yelled something similar to Charles Shultz about that song: “Don’t you know irony when you hear it?”
For the record, I do realize that Charlie Brown’s ranting and dismay is about people forgetting the true meaning of Christmas, but can we just admit that the marketers are missing an amazing opportunity to insert some product placement for Prozac in that show?
You see, I find true Christmas cheer in a movie that doesn’t devote 90% of its runtime to displaying man’s misery before the great epiphany that makes it all okay. With Buddy in the movie “Elf,” the back story is too ridiculous to bring even a moment of sadness, as the young baby from the orphanage was discovered to have crawled into Santa’s toy bag and is now a grown man who was raised in the North Pole to believe he’s a real – and real inept – elf.
When Buddy travels to Manhattan to find his birth father, hilarity ensues as this tights-wearing, literal Amelia Bedelia of a man, maneuvers through the city as a presumed Christmas help employee. He attacks imposter Santas, defends bullied boys in a wicked snowball fight, decorates with abandon, and serves meals comprised of every maple and sugar combination you can imagine, all the while uttering classic lines that have invaded my family’s everyday speech, and always bring a smile.
“I’m in love, I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it!”
“Son of a nutcracker!”
“He’s an angry elf.”
“I like to whisper, too.”
“Not now, Arctic Puffin.”
“Is there sugar in syrup? Then YES!”
“I've got the whole day planned. First we'll make snow angels for two hours, then we'll go ice skating, then we'll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse cookie dough as fast as we can, and then ... we'll snuggle.”
Buddy’s sole mission, you see, is to make sure the jaded and overburdened people he encounters believe in Santa so that Santa’s sleigh – powered by Christmas spirit – can keep the tradition alive.
The sappy message, combined with bright colors and lively music, may feel like a sequin movie in a year that feels decidedly plaid, but as they say… dress for the role you want, not the one you have.
In addition to being a staff writer for the Almaden Times, Shana McLean Moore is the author of two books and a motivational speaker who specializes in community building. Visit http://www.sunnysidecommunications.com for more information.
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