Friday, December 26, 2008

Just hear those sleigh bells jinglin'

The traditions are holding strong around here: family, friends, and enormous quantities of food forced upon me all day.

One of my favorites is Christmas movies (I mean, good any time of year, but especially good now). I've enjoyed Christmas movies all month. At the Michigan Theater: Elf, White Christmas, and The Bishop's Wife. At home, It's a Wonderful Life and last night while I wrapped presents at the last minute, Meet Me In St. Louis (which I argue isn't a Christmas movie, but I'll watch happily). They showed The Shop Around the Corner, but it was 2 am, and I had to go to sleep (a similar thing right now- I'm watching The African Queen, but all this eating has exhausted me!).

One thing I think is worth noting about these movies: so many of them place music centrally. There's plenty of song in the classic Christmas musicals. Singing is par for the course in the lives of the Smith Family and friends in Meet Me in St. Louis, and in Holiday Inn, and White Christmas. All about performers, but the biggest moments come in communal non-performance moments. At the end of White Christmas, the entire audience (in the film and in the theater) bursts out in the title song. And it's a spontaneous song that proves the most heartwarming in Meet Me in St. Louis, where the parents begin singing You and I, and everyone gathers. But even in the nonmusical films: when the community wants to help George, they sing. And as the lovely Zooey Baschenel learned so well: "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear." There's something about the holidays that hammers this home: while the songs may come across as cheesy (and the movies), what matters is their familiarity. That everyone can join in, together. People complain about hearing the songs all the time, but does anyone complain about singing them?


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