Scrooged is one of my favourite Christmas movies. A warm tale about Manhattan’s meanest TV executive who rediscovers the meaning of Christmas, starring everyone’s favourite Ghostbuster? What’s not to love! With his arrogance, cynicism and caustic sarcasm, Frank Cross perfectly embodies old Ebeneezer. And who the dickens doesn’t love a story where the spirit of the season melts even the coldest of hearts? That bit at the end where the kid speaks for the first time? And Murray’s spiel about how the magic can happen to all of us if we just believe in it?
Niagra Falls, Frankie Angel!
I love it all. You can’t honestly tell me that tears don’t well up when Bill Murray speaks to the camera during the closing credits in an attempt to cajole the cinema audience into singing ‘Put a Little Love in Your Heart.’ You just can’t.
With this hunk of eighties nostalgia in mind – and the original Dickensian classic of course, but really mostly the movie – I started thinking about Christmases past, present and future and about how the magic and wonder of the season has triumphed over time. I also thought about generations of tired parents everywhere just trying to get through the holiday period alive, most of whom could probably do with a visit from Jacob Marley or Blake Carrington from Dynasty to remind them to appreciate the season.
It’s very easy to get swallowed up by the commercialism, to worry about the planning involved and to be just too damn tired. It’s easy to bemoan the shopping, the crowds and the expense. It’s easy to feel a bit like Frank Cross. The lead-up to Christmas has now lasted two months. We have been fielding off questions about real santas and snow fairies for two months. We have indulged our children in endless festive entertainment. We have concocted twenty-two separate scenarios for The Elf on the Shelf. We have watched all the movies. We have written all the cards. We have read all the books. We are spent.
We need to be revived, reminded. We need a fresh injection of Christmas spirit to get us over the line. We need to be present. We need to inhale the magic before our kids have outgrown it. We need a smack in the face with a toaster.
So, where would my Ghost of Christmas Past take me? What sort of scene would my invisible self be forced to watch through a Monaghan window alongside a cigar-smoking, crazy-toothed taxi-driver? What warm fuzzy memories would be conjured up?
I’d see bleary-eyed parents doing what parents everywhere do at 6am on Christmas morning; assembling toys, rummaging for batteries and deeply regretting drinking the remainder of the bottle of Santa’s Jameson. I’d see us begrudgingly leave our toy haul and selection boxes behind to go to mass. I’d remember The Wizard of Oz and Band Aid. I’d think of the feasting, the games and the feeling of fullness, the prawn cocktail and the over-doused sherry trifle. I’d smell the spices of the stuffing, I’d see my late mother making mince-pies for the neighbours and I’d be reminded to call my brother.
What about now? What has changed? There’s no doubt that today the fundamentals are the same as they were thirty years ago but with more Frozen merchandise and less tinsel. Instead of setting the used wrapping paper and packaging alight, we’ll be forced to climb into the recycling wheelie bin at some point in a compression exercise. The menu may have evolved a little to incorporate Panettone and baked Camembert and the bottle of Blue Nun has been upgraded to bubbles but the message is the same. The general sense of merriment is the same. The magic is the same.
Am I stopping to smell the spices though? Do I need to be reminded to appreciate the charm and wonder? Have the relentless demands of three young children rendered me too exhausted to engage fully? Do I need to be poked in the eyes by a well-meaning fairy? Or do I just need to go to bed earlier and pass on the Jameson?
Christmases Yet to Come
And what of Christmases yet to come? Am I doing enough now to create memories and traditions that will shape the Christmases the kids have with their own broods? If the magic has stood the test of time thus far, we’re safe, aren’t we?
Perhaps I don’t need supernatural intervention. Perhaps all anyone needs is a gentle reminder to be there in the moment, absorbing it all and capitalising on the enchantment so as the magic continues long into Christmases in the future?
Yes, you’re tired. And broke. And you want to hurt that creepy, sneering elf who’s perched above the extractor fan in the kitchen but maybe you just need to…
…think of your fellow man, lend him a helping hand and put a little love in your heart…
And maybe you should watch Scrooged again this Christmas.
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