Skip to main content

Pandemic Elf: Holiday Movies

Hello, I am the Pandemic Elf. I am your trail guide through the Holiday Path winding through the Pandemic Forest. My job is to point out detours, sinkholes, and other dangers so they don't catch you unawares. 

Today's issue: Holiday Movies!

The tradition is our family is that the first holiday show to watch is the How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The original and the best, the 1/2 hour long special voiced by Boris Karloff. It is so much our family tradition that when my son was a senior in high school, and way too cool for family things, I jokingly asked him if he wanted us to wait for him the next year (when he would be away at college.) He sort of smirked and said nothing as we watched it. Then that night, as he headed for bed, he paused at the foot of the stairs. "Wait for me," he said softly. 

We settled in, after our Thanksgiving dinner, for this year's viewing. Aforementioned son, now 24, was staying away because he is a very good and ethical citizen, and takes Dr. Fauci's advice seriously. 

But the rest of us watched the beautiful little morality play about how Christmas doesn't come from a store, it's all about being together with people you care about, holding hands in one giant circle and singing. Fah who foraze! Dah who doraze!

Well, ____ (insert expletive of your choice).

Well, THAT is kind of ironic. The three things you really MUST. NOT. DO. in this time of covid-19 are as follows, and I quote: 

1. Be together with others.

2. Hold hands.

3. Sing with others.

Stink! Stank! Stunk! 

Later on in the weekend, we watched Elf. The message wasn't quite as ironic, but both The Husband and I expressed discomfort at watching Jovie and Buddy walk, carefree and joyous, through the crowds of New York. It's just impossible, I think for most of us to suspend our disbelief. I mean, an elf from the North Pole, Santa and his sleigh ... completely believable. I mean, even narwhals are real, so I've been told, though I'm still a little doubtful. 

But walking through a crowd, no one wearing a mask? It looks ... naked. Unsafe. Like watching someone on a roller coaster without the safety bar pulled down. 


Look, the movies were all made in the Before Times. And so prepare to be pulled up a little short. To be reminded that what we are living in right now is decidedly not normal. 

When you are ready to face that full-on, and maybe even deal a little with your grief about how hard this is, grab a box of tissues, plan a pity party, and watch Meet Me in St. Louis

This is the musical that the wonderful song, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" comes from. I have had issues with the sanitized version of the song for many years ... and 2020 is the YEAR THAT PROVES ME RIGHT ON THIS. 

Because the words as they are sung in the movie are exactly what are needed this year. It's like the song was written by someone who was living in 2020 and had a time machine and went back in time to give it to Judy Garland. 

Are you ready for this? 

Got tissues? 

Have yourself a merry little Christmas, let your heart be light
Next year all our troubles will be out of sight
Have yourself a merry little Christmas, make the yule-tide gay
Next year all our troubles will be miles away

Once again as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Will be near to us once more
Someday soon, we all will be together, if the fates allow
Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow

So have yourself a merry little Christmas now

So, here's to muddling through somehow. And lifting a prayer that next year all our troubles will be out of site, and faithful friends will be -- physically, even! -- near to us once more. 

p.s. The original lyrics were even more somber. "Have yourself a merry little Christmas. It may be your last..." Let's do all we can from making that one relevant. Wear your mask. Stay out of crowds. Sing only in your own home, around the people you live with. 

But do sing. 


Popular posts from this blog

Don't Trust Your Instincts, or, "Well-Meaning People Can Exacerbate Big Problems"

My evangelical friends talk about being "convicted." That moment when you hear or read a message and like an arrow, it dives into your heart, and you know that you have been guilty, and you have some growing to do. At the very beginning of my learning about Bowen systems theory, the professor was laying out the basic idea: that we all feel anxiety, and when we do, we act (often in unhealthy ways) in order to lessen our anxiety. And in an unhealthy system with emotionally immature people -- a family, a business, a church -- one person's anxiety can trigger the anxiety of others. Here's a great primer on that. Really great. Like, watch it 20 times in a row. Or every morning as you drink your coffee. (I'm not kidding. I think your life would be better. Consider it a spiritual practice.) So back to my conviction moment. The professor went on to talk about how when we see someone who is "vibrating" with anxiety, our instinct is often to rush over,

The Most Controversial Thing I'll Write All Year

Back when you were a kid, you learned a lesson. It was wrong. And it's time for you to unlearn it. You learned that you were responsible for other people's feelings. Not that you should care about other people's feelings. (You should.) Not just that you should be sensitive to other people's feelings. (You should.) But you were taught that you were actually responsible for other people's feelings. It happens in almost all homes, even the loving ones. In abusive homes, it's more blatant. If Dad is unhappy, you get hit. So you learn that it is actually your responsibility to keep him happy, or there would be consequences. But even in non-abusive homes, it happened. If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.  You are not responsible for other people's feelings. That's their job. And in fact, you are crossing their boundary if you try to control their feelings. They get to decide how they feel about something, not you. They may decide that you

Me and My Collar

You may run into me on a Friday, in my neighborhood, so it's time I let you know what you might see. When I was doing my required unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), my supervisor suggested that any of us who came from traditions where a clerical collar was an option, take one "collar week," to see how we were treated, as opposed to wearing regular professional clothes. After a couple of days, I joked to the Catholic priest, "How do you manage the power?" In regular clothes, I would walk into a patient's room, and it would take about 5 or so minutes of introductions and pleasantries before we could really get down to talking about their feelings, their fears, the deep stuff. With most people, as soon as that clerical collar walked in the room, with me attached, they began pouring out all the heavy stuff they were carrying. I was riding the bus back and forth every day, and though not quite so dramatic, the collar effect was alive there, to