Anyhow speaking of the good parts of Christmas, as a young Jew in Amerika, I grew up la-la-loving Christmas Specials. They warmed me from my navel to my gut (short path physically, but long path emotionally) and made me yearn to be like everyone else, as I so often did as a child. In retrospect, perhaps this elementary burning desire to fit in was a kind of overcompensating -- feeling intrinsically abnormal (queer), I wanted even MORE to constantly appear normal (Christian). In further retrospect, I think it's 'cause Christmas Specials rock, I love the endings with the HANDEL! and the CAROLS! And the pan out! Everyone smiling & doing that squeeze-hug thing!
I've been writing this in bits and pieces. As much as this is a Sunday Top Ten obstensibly about Christmas specials, this is just a scrapbook of my slapshot brain in ten-minute intervals over the last three days.
The perfect present for anyone on your list. If they don't like it, then they're a bad person. Srsly. So it's a win win.
+++"Sunday" Top Ten:
Every Day is Sunday for Jesus Top Ten Autowin Christmas Special
Actually, my day-to-day functional "family" -- my friends, that is -- we're never more spread out than we are during the holidays. It's weird, that urban life does that to you, and then going home you end up feeling more disjointed and out of sorts than you do the rest of the year, which I think is the opposite of what Charles Dickens intended. Or G-d.
It might surprise you that for two girls who spend most of our Christmas vaycays texting each other in all caps about various neurotic inabilities to exist outside our prescribed comfort zones, Haviland & I share a deep burning love for The Christmas Special. Especially A Very Brady Christmas. We made a whole vlog about it but there was no sound. These things happen. Not in X-Mas specials, in X-Mas specials there'd be a miracle, and the miracle would be Sound. 9 times out of 10, "a computer disaster being fixed" would be my kind of miracle.
Jordan : My old man used to knock me around, too ... he hasn't done in a couple of years, though. He's too scared. 'Cause the last time -- I-I threw a chair at him.
Rickie : Well, I'm going to light a candle for you on Christmas Eve.
Jordan : Oh, yeah, you think that changes anything?
Rickie : Yes.
[At the end, Jordan lights a candle. 'Cause he feels the spirit of hope & togetherness, just like the whole Chase family as they all go to church together with Rickie because his Dad beats him but they're all together in church and singing and the angel died from freezing but that's okay.]
Though I did execute an admirable production of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (I was Cindy Loo-Hoo) in 1991, I haven't had another chance to exercise my video making skills with any of the classic stories of Christmas. Maybe next year. Haviland can be Dasher and Vixen. I'll be Cindy Loo-Hoo again, obvs. I epically failed the first time around 'cause my cousin Glen made me laugh so hard I almost wet my pants for real -- when it was announced that it was Christmas-time he popped out of bed like a jack-in-the-box with big wild eyes and went "IT IS?" and then you can see my little Bam-Bam ponytail just bobble on my head as I attempt to contain myself.
When you're a kid and you say "I almost wet my pants" you're usually actually kinda serious. Now it's just a figure of speech I guess. Obviously everything's under control in that area now and also was at the time. I've been writing this in stages as I have a series of small, self-centered meltdowns, and I think that comes through in the writing. I wonder how many people really read the random middle bits, I bet you mostly skim through. Get the start, get the end, comment, go read AfterEllen. For all of you in the middle, don't be surprised if you get a miracle in your stocking.
In the secret Christmas Special of my life, we'd all gather together and do "Hark Herald the Angels" like at the end of A Charlie Brown Christmas, and I'll turn out to secretly be an amazing singer. I love it when that happens. OMG! I just remembered that I've gone all X-mas season without listening to my favorite Christmas song of all time, "All I Want For Christmas (Is You)" by Mariah Carey. I gotta crank that shit up tomorrow on the drive to Ohio!
6. OMG SUSAN POWTER CUT OFF ALL OF HER HAIR FOR CHRISTMAS !
Sorry, I went to youtube to look for a video, and I saw her (I only subscribe to Susan Powter, FourFour and Sara Benicasa, I'm very picky obvs) and her new video titled "the best holiday gift ever." This is my gift to you. No it's not the gift of wellness and fat-burning. It's the magic of transcribing anything Susan Powter says onto paper. It's one thing to hear it and quite another to read it. I'm not skipping anything here, that's not what the dashes or ellipses mean.
Sometimes it's not a surprise guest so much as it is a surprise FROM a guest. Like in the Saved by the Bell Christmas special, which takes place in the mall (the mall is one of my many obsessions), where the girl Zach is crushing on turns out to be homeless. Luckily it's Christmas so everyone gets some turkey. I don't like turkey but if I was homeless I might change my tune.
Who will be the surprise guest at tomorrow's Bernard family Christmas? Wouldn't it be funny if I was like -- ALEX! No. The surprise guest will be Tinkerbell. At the Hannukah party, she was not well received. I do not have high expectations for X-mas recieving of Tinkerbell. Hopefully next year I'll be dating someone famous but secretly gay, like Ellen Page, 'cause then my family would be eased into the idea gently, via movie star.
Muppet movies combine all of my favorite aspects of visual entertainment: Muppets (I'm actually 1/2 muppet, true story), carefully coreographed singing & dancing numbers, witty inside jokes, and famous people dancing with muppets. This year's Muppets X-Mas Special features Jessie Martin, Mayor Bloomberg, Jane Krakowski, Uma Thurman, Whoopi Goldberg, etc. It doesn't hold a candle to A Muppet Christmas Carol or A Muppet Family Christmas. To be honest I only watched about 10 minutes of the new one. Where was I? I love muppets. What was the point of this Top Ten? The point is that somehow I've managed to spend the last three days entirely in my head, no matter where I've been.
Which is why I wish I was a whole muppet, not just a muppet in some pictures.
In my Christmas Special, I'd also like to assemble an all-star group of unrelated iconic figures. Obvs Haviland Stillwell and Tegan & Sara. I'd need some good dancers, maybe the cast of "In the Heights" or those little boys from Billy Elliot. Julie Goldman 'cause she's funny. Barack Obama -- good speaker, very popular right now. The Fab Five in their college form. The revival cast of "Sweet Charity" doing "Big Spender" or Audrey Hepburn doing the dance from Funny Face. RuPaul. Maybe if The Cure wanted to stop by. I'll think about this one I have some more. Who'd be in your variety show?
3. Even though we're adults and adults have problems our tragedies are overcome by the spirit of family and togetherness!
The best christmas special of all time, 1988's A Very Brady Christmas, is the perfect archetype of how adult Christmas should go. See -- Marcia's husband just lost his job, Peter's having an affair with his boss, Bobby dropped out of school to become a race-car driver, Jan's getting divorced and even Sam the Butcher has left poor Alice for another woman! Then Mike gets trapped inside his building! WHO WILL SAVE CHRISTMAS?
Well the kind recapper on IMDB explains: "In the end, Mike gets out of the trap after Carol (and the rest of the gang) sing O Come All Ye Faithful."
So there you go. No but really -- this never happens. Maybe if you're in Jesus's family, 'cause I thnk it happens sometimes for birthdays. But never has someone been like "man, we were all really down about Uncle Horace leaving Aunt Gertrude for a boy he met at the gas station, but then the spirit of Christmas overtook us, Grandma even learned to walk again! We just sang O Come All Ye Faithful!" In this sense, Christmas movies are the best kind of sci-fi fantasy films, and they fill you with a hope rarely replicated in life. If you've got the real thing though, then man -- you are lucky. I had it once. Honestly, I did. We did. I loved Christmas so fucking much, it was the best time of the year. Now we've got some grab bag of adult tragedies. Liars, tramps and theives. I'm the liar, Tinkerbell is the tramp. Just FYI.
Did you think I'd get away without relaying a moment-by-moment recap of my X-mas travel debacle? Of course not!
Christmas specials often involve a travel debacle. These are generally resolved in madcap hijinks and a scene in the airport where the bedraggled traveler will beg for a ticket to anywhere so they can see their family. I cannot imagine this kind of desperation but apparently it happens. JK Mom, it happened to me actually just this weekend.
Obvs I'll be writing Delta Airlines to share my feelings about their performance on Saturday. I arrived at the airport at 3 P.M. and arrived in Michigan at 6 A.M. the next day, meaning it officially would've been faster to drive. Also then I could've brought the kayak. I don't mind airplane delays -- I count on them, actually -- but I do mind an airline insisting that the flight is on time as we sit panicking in traffic, insisting the flight is on time when they tell me I won't even get ON IT 'cause after waiting in line for 10 minutes, I'm 3 minutes too late to check my bag -- I'm calling Alex telling her she's gonna have to come back and get me, I'm calling my Mom telling her I won't be coming home since they can't get me on another flight, and I'm actually upset about this, 'cause my Mom I know will be upset not to see me and I bought a kayak already -- I mind Delta insisting the flight is on time as I literally sprint to the gate, only to then sit through seven hours of them periodically switching the departure time to the present time about every 10 minutes when clearly that isn't gonna happen. It was just ... weird. I could've spent all that time at home, complaining to Alex & making animal noises with Natalie or perhaps exercising at the local gym. Or buying presents. I could've even felt safe wandering more than ten minutes away from the sign, which continued to tell us we were leaving in the next ten minutes.
It was kinda like I was having sex with Delta, and as soon as we started Delta said they were gonna come and i was like, oh, okay, that's unexpectedly quick for you, Delta, but still, that's cool, I'm on board, and then they were like, "no, it's too soon," and you know, we did other things unlikely to immediately incite orgasm or they closed their eyes and thought about my mother making cookies, and then went back to it and then Delta was like "omg, I'm almost there," and I was like ok and we were doing our thing, and then they keep saying they're almost there and then it's like hours and hours pass of me giving it my all and then it's the next morning and still no one has exploded all over the keyboard. Then we get on the plane and wait on the plane for another three hours, which I guess the analogy for that would be unnecessary cuddling when I want to go to bed. Or them being like "now you!" and me being like "I don't even give a shit anymore."
In Home Alone, Kevin's Mom ends up traveling home with a polka band headed by John Candy. I think? That would've been neat.
1. Happy Ending with Singing and Happiness and Togetherness where all is calm and all is bright.
I guess the thing is about Christmas Specials is you know it'll have a happy ending. Not just any happy ending, but the kind where everyone you love is gathered around a mutually loved place, having been through something tough, and the camera zooms out at the end to show everyone who's there, together, and there's music or maybe food, maybe a new dog or random homeless person.
And you watch the whole thing knowing this'll be the ending -- 'cause that's the only thing that's the same about all of these specials and movies -- which's more or less how we all want life to work out too, is knowing that all the delayed flights and fleeting angels and snowdrifts and yelling at strangers are just the little debacles you get through to reach the food and the music and the hugs. The kind where the camera turns and the angel is gone but someone winks, or smiles, knowing they were there, and everything's okay. Or something like that. The tree is all you ever wanted, the wagon makes your dreams come true, life really is that simple. And I'm pretty sure it is, actually, it's ME making it so fucking complicated.