Friends will already suspect that I have a corny bone in my body.
Oh, I go around adopting the pose of the sardonic, hard-bitten cynic, but in reality I am afflicted with chronic incurable cheesiness, and this time of year inflames it. I love Christmas movies.
I love The Christmas Carol (The Alistair Simms version); Scrooged; Merry Christmas, Charley Brown; The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (the Chuck Jones version narrated by Boris Karlof); and Miracle on 34th Street. And It’s a Wonderful Life. Don’t even get me started on It’s a Wonderful Life.
I like A Christmas Story, too, but the aforementioned are the ones I love.
I’m not stupid, I realize all those movies are really the same movie. A character, broken in some way, or at least bent, or lost, discovers The True Meaning of Christmas. Honestly, it’s such a lame cliché I’m ashamed to own up to it. But I can’t help it, I just love it.
It’s not enough that I blubber when Clarence the Angel gets his wings – I swear to God, my eyes sting just thinking about it – or when the Grinch’s heart grows three sizes as he learns – oh, Jesus, the waterworks are going to start any minute now – that maybe, just maybe, Christmas isn’t just about presents, but something a little bit more.
The thing is, that this sort of movie breaks me up more on Christmas eve, the more I play at being the sardonic hard-bitten cynic the other three-hundred and sixty four. The story says, look, we know all that worldly cynicism of yours is just a pretense, look at George Bailey, he thought he was a cynic, too. And Ebeneezer Scrooge, you can’t get any more hardboiled than Ebeneezer, but Christmas gets to them, it cracks their shells and reveals the quivering marshmallow beneath – the part of them that loves and hungers to be loved in return. And they’re grateful for having their shells cracked, for breaking down, for being exposed, and you’re grateful, too – admit it! We see you out there, your face washed with tears as Scrooge orders the biggest turkey in the market to send to Bob Crachit! Oh, and the part where he pretends to fire Bob only to give him a raise and insist he take more time off. Or when all the letters arrive for Kris Kringle in the middle of the courtroom and even the judge...
I had to pause writing to wipe my eyes and blow my nose.
I just can’t help it. I love Christmas movies.
Merry Christmas, everyone.