Thursday, December 13, 2007

Planet Christmas

We're settling into orbit around "Planet Christmas," with its moon "New Year's" plainly in view and I can already tell this is going to be like one of those NASA missions in which one tries to fit as many experiments as possible into the shortest amount of time. We've already had parties, concerts and shopping, and the next three weeks promise more of the same. Mind you, I'm not complaining. In my family, I'm usually the one most imbued with that child-like sense of Christmas, an enthusiasm I always shared with my mother and maternal grandfather. My brother and father seemed only to tolerate the fuss, preferring to let others decorate the tree and wrap presents. But this year even my mother has complained that she's suffering from the holiday blahs, finding it difficult to muster the usual excitement that accompanies hanging ornaments and baking cookies. Indeed, she worries that she's becoming a "Scrooge" like my grandmother, who for years has perennially spent the Christmas seasons fussing about the mess and extra work. Even she, however, always managed to brighten on Christmas morning and rediscover some of that youthful lightness of heart, enjoying Santa's visit vicariously through grandchildren and then great-grandchildren.

On the homefront, I've started what I hope will be a new Christmas tradition for the kids: a reading of the original Dickens version of "A Christmas Carol." I hadn't read the book in many years, so it was a joy to encounter afresh Dickens' rich prose. I realize that my boys may not understand all of it - and there are moments when I change words to more readily understandable synonyms - but I think they'll understand the main idea of the story. At some point I'll probably add a film version of the story to give them some of the visual clues, and of course there's only one decent version to show - the 1951 English production starring Alastair Sim. (Considered the definitive interpretation of Scrooge's character, Sim's effort conveys more of that Dickensian spirit and gothic darkness than perhaps any other version. No doubt the black and white medium enhances the film. We'll try hard to avoid some of the more dreadful characterizations, including Kelsey Grammar's memorably horrific 2004 made-for-TV debacle. Whoever greenlighted that project must have been stoned.)

1 comment:

One Wink at a Time said...

You are such a Good Dad :-)