So among my offerings at the new A.C. (Almost Christmas) McClurg Bookstore is a line of DVDs, all nice and shiny and perfectly suitable for holiday giving.
And nothing else.
These DVDs come from folks who work all year long to find any old TV episode that was saved on film and is out of copyright, or any old cartoons which are equally in the public domain, and package them up for your viewing pleasure. One of these outfits cheated lately by taking every cheaply available Christmas cartoon, movie, singalong short subject, or commercial and printing them on a massive set of DVDs offering hours of Christmas nostalgia. But the real players bring out individual DVDs containing various assortments of cheap classics, so you never QUITE have the whole collection.
I have looked at a lot of these things (I was doing research for another amazing, wonderful, and somehow unpublished book; I can tell you about it some other time.) I have learned a great deal about our holiday viewing tastes, from this animated silhouette story filmed around 1911 to Holiday in Handcuffs (which I see is now six years old: how the holidays do fly!)
We have, for example, been making bad made-for-TV Christmas movies since at least the late 1940s. We do this despite the fact that there are roughly twelve available plots for such pictures: there is the disgruntled parent movie, the disillusioned divorced/widowed single movie, the kid who is getting too old to believe movie, the kid who is too poor to buy Mom a present movie…I’m not counting the versions of A Christmas Carol or It’s a Wonderful Life. Those are a genre unto themselves.
We were obsessed with threats to Christmas long before this became a political stance. It’s our Puritan heritage, you see: if we like something too much it has to be bad for us and someone will take it away. I have lost count of the animated heroes who have saved Christmas (though the Felix the Cat version is available on the Book Fair shelf). Either there’s a temporary disaster (Santa gets lost, Santa gets sick) or there is a local movement (the town council forbids Christmas, the town newspaper offends Santa Claus), or there is a deep, evil plot (Santa is the subject of a hostile takeover, the North Pole is melted by an evil Zappo Ray.) SOMEBODY, almost always the least likely person (a red-nosed reindeer, a lost dog, a clumsy elf) moves in and saves Christmas Just In The St. Nick of Time. There seems to be a new one of these every year: in years when we have two of them, I wonder why Wilbur the Wiggly Walrus doesn’t trip over Sallie the Snowflake Scout as they race their separate ways to save the day.
I confess that I, myself, have been writing a story about a squirrel who decides to save Christmas. He buys a scrap album and cuts out the word “Christmas” from every newspaper in town, and saves it in…yeah, why the Nobel Committee never comes to call is a mystery to me as well.
We are also concerned with the True Meaning of Christmas. I have discussed this with you before, mistletoeburger: everybody has a personal True Meaning. So does every movie. The One True Meaning of Christmas is random acts of kindness. The One True M of C is family togetherness. The OTMOC is generosity. The OTM is charity. It’s love, it’s the first two pages of the Book of Luke, it’s reminiscing about Christmases past, it’s singing together with other people who can’t carry a tune, it’s sitting inside somewhere warm with egg nog and cinnamon popcorn and watching “Home Without a Holiday”, “Sally Stegosaurus Saves Christmas”, and “The Little Drummer Lamb” until you fall asleep to visions of sugarplums.
Can’t help you with much of the list, but you can go for that last one at the A.C. (Actual Cinema) McClurg Bookstore. Egg nog and popcorn not included.