Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Where’s the Christmas?

When daughter was about three years old, I took her each Wednesday evening to sing in the “Winkie Bear Choir.” This was our girl talk time, and I enjoyed discussing the moon and the stars with her, for these wonders are more significant to adults who gaze, even for a moment, through childlike eyes. In early December, our small town hung candles and poinsettias, crafted from wire, colored tinsel, and bright lights, from the light poles along the main streets. Daughter and I enjoyed these simple decorations as we drove to and from the church.

As it always does, dark and cold January followed, and we continued our customary trek through Jefferson, but daughter was most disappointed. I remember her small voice, coming from the car seat strapped into my 88 Oldsmobile, “Where is the Christmas, Mama?” Although I tried to explain that the magical time comes only once a year, she had not lived long enough to remember the last one, and the next one was too far off for her young mind to imagine.

She is a college girl now, and the idea of driving with me is boring, unless shopping and fine dining with my credit card is part of the journey. Still, I plan some trips during December, “to get into the Christmas spirit” and these involve lights, decorations, shopping, dining, and sometimes something more.

Recently, my children and I paid a weekday visit to a mall about 45 minutes from home, and there were some decorations, some good buys, and a huge movie theatre. I had read that the box office champ for the previous weekend was “Four Christmases” starring Reese Witherspoon. The timing was right, so I suggested that we watch it after some not so fine dining at the food court. I purchased three tickets from a bored vendor, skipped the snack bar, and sat in the center of a truly empty stadium theatre, with loud surround sound and fast paced previews. My offspring sat on either side of me, and I felt good about the idea. Even the seats and carpet were red, which seemed festive.

Alas, once the previews finished, I realized this was a bad idea. The film has a vulgar script, despite its PG-13 rating, and my son, who is studying Shakespeare, pronounced it full of “groundling humor.” Actually, that was kind, but he probably didn’t want to exacerbate my disgust. Daughter was more frank about what we should have seen instead. If one views the script as biting social commentary, this film might be of some worth, but that is the only possible excuse.

We continued our weekday get-a-way afterward, but the decorations were not so festive anymore. Before long, we mutually agreed to return to our van, and the most exciting part of the journey home was merging onto I-85.

The season is far from over, of course, but my daughter’s words now seem profound. “Where is the Christmas?” is a question for this postmodern age. Certainly I did not find it at the movie theatre. My suggestion to you is to skip “Four Christmases.”

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