A Holiday Classic, and a Reminder to Imagine

We all have certain favorites that we like to turn to this time of year–go-to movies or television episodes or songs that beckon like a lighthouse in the dark.  And certainly, in my adopted state of Vermont, “dark” is an apt description.  The winter solstice occurs during the heart of the holiday season.  Sunset is early.  Sunrise is late.  In between, there are frigid, snow-filled days, gloomy with gray clouds that hover low over the frozen land like unwashed, soiled laundry.

 

It’s no wonder, then, that many people look for a tonic, some reliable holiday classic that never fails to elicit a feeling of warmth and thankfulness, of appreciation and goodwill.  For me, movies such as It’s a Wonderful Life, Meet Me in St. Louis, and Trading Places serve to brighten my December, offering annual strolls down memory lane, retaining their luster and their shine.

 

The list of holiday classics is long, though.  I never have the chance to watch as many movies or select TV shows as I’d like to in any given holiday season.  But this month, I thought of one movie in particular that I hadn’t viewed in years, and I made a firm decision to remedy that oversight.  So, just last night, after a day in which nine inches of fresh snow had fallen on the Green Mountain State, I popped in the DVD, settled in with some popcorn and hot chocolate, and enjoyed . . .

 

Surely, Miracle on 34th Street is a Christmas classic.  Filmed in 1947, it as endearing now as the day it debuted in theaters seven decades ago.  And though I couldn’t remember the last time I had seen it, many of the scenes instantly came back to me as I watched, like being reacquainted with an old friend, too long absent but the memory of whom burns bright and vibrant in the soul.

 

The plot of Miracle on 34th Street is simple–corny, even.  And yet–there is a magic to this movie, and when the final credits roll at the end, you feel better for having watched it.  While Miracle on 34th Street is undoubtedly a Christmas movie, and deals with the theme in specific point of view–the true gift of this film runs deeper.  The crux of the plot centers around a lawyer’s attempt to “prove” that Santa Claus exists.  And in true vintage Hollywood fashion, he accomplishes this, and then goes one further by “proving” that an eccentric old man, who calls himself Kris Kringle and who plays a department store Santa at Macy’s in New York City, is, in fact, the genuine article.

 

For me, though, the heart of Miracle on 34th Street has very little to do with Santa, or even the holiday itself.  It has to do with faith. with the limitless power of thought, the vistas of our imagination, the lifelong struggle, and opportunity–even as we grow older and assume the responsibilities of adulthood–to retain at least some spark, some essence of our youth.

 

At one juncture in the movie, old Kris Kringle has a talk with Susan, a serious, thoroughly sensible little girl.  Susan tells Kris that she doesn’t like it when her friends and classmates play pretend games.  Such things are “silly,” she says–echoing her practical and everything-is-factual-and-tangible-minded mother.  Susan thinks to pretend is to depart from the real world, and is therefore a waste of time.

 

Kris flips the argument on its head, turning the perceived flaw into a strength.

In order to pretend, he tells the girl, you have to have the ability to imagine.

“Imagination is a place all by itself,” Kris explains.  “A separate country.  Now, you’ve heard of the French nation, the British nation.  Well this . . . is the imagi-nation.”  He promises her it’s a wonderful place.  “How would you like to have a ship all to yourself,” he asks, “that makes daily trips to China?  And Australia?  How would you like to be the Statue of Liberty in the morning, and then, in the afternoon, fly south with a flock of geese?”

 

Susan nods, moonstruck.  The old man is unlocking something heretofore buried inside of her, something real and essential, and needing to come out.

 

We all need the occasional flight of fancy.  We all need the ability to take a step back, temporarily forget about the bills, the doctor appointment, the in-box, the stack of papers on the desk, the planning for the party next week.  Granted, planning for the party next week is important.  And those bills won’t pay for themselves.  But it’s all too easy to get stuck on a treadmill, or caught on a straight and narrow path, hemmed in by featureless gray walls.

 

The Kris Kringle from Miracle on 34th Street, in crisp black-and-white, the department store Santa Claus from the 1940s, the physical, earthy, jocular fellow, is a relic, the sights and sounds around him a living, moving time capsule.  But he has much to say to us even now, on the cusp of 2018.

 

The imagi-nation is a magical place, not just during the holidays, but the whole year through.

I’ll be sure to see you there.

 

Have a wonderful and blessed holiday, and thanks so much for reading!

–Mike

66 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mary J. McCoy-Dressel
    Dec 23, 2017 @ 20:59:49

    Merry Christmas to you and your family, Michael.

    Reply

  2. Patrice
    Dec 23, 2017 @ 21:18:06

    Lovingly written as always ❤
    Merry Christmas to you and yours! All the Best for the season

    Reply

  3. Bonnie Marshall
    Dec 23, 2017 @ 21:21:22

    Your site is always “go to … quality of life” source of wisdom for me, Mike. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year !

    Reply

  4. jjspina
    Dec 23, 2017 @ 21:35:12

    Wonderful post, Mike! I love that movie too! Now We are going to watch it tonight! We have the later version too but I prefer the original.
    May you and yours have a wonderful Christmas and a healthy & Happy New Year! 🎊🎆 🎁🎄 🤗

    Reply

  5. Ileana
    Dec 23, 2017 @ 22:13:34

    ☕❄☃🌲🤶😘Craciun fericit !

    Reply

  6. foodinbooks
    Dec 23, 2017 @ 22:35:11

    Have a wonderful holiday and a very Merry Christmas. Thanks for all your awesome and thought-provoking posts this past year. Yours is one of the blogs I always look forward to reading.

    Reply

  7. Superduque777
    Dec 23, 2017 @ 22:41:06


    May the spirit of Christmas bring you peace,
    The gladness of Christmas give you hope,
    The warmth of Christmas grant you love.

    Reply

  8. joannerambling
    Dec 24, 2017 @ 01:10:03

    I love Christmas movies, watching A Christmas Carol at the moment watched The Polar Express last night also seen a The Santa Clause 1 & 2

    Reply

  9. Jennie
    Dec 24, 2017 @ 02:42:28

    One of the best movies, ever. Merry Christmas!

    Reply

  10. sherazade
    Dec 24, 2017 @ 08:42:54

    ‘Miracolo nella 34 strada’ è un bellissimo film di Natale che perdiamo anche noi.
    Grazie per il modo elegante del tuo raccontarlo.
    Un abbraccio affettuoso auguri cari
    Sherazade 🌲🌲🌲⚘

    Reply

  11. Sherri Matthews
    Dec 24, 2017 @ 13:04:54

    Ahh…what would Christmas be without these timeless and wonderful classics? And of course, your wonderful Christmas posts 🙂 Merry Christmas Mike, look forward to catching up in the New Year!

    Reply

  12. barbaramonier
    Dec 24, 2017 @ 13:11:08

    Have a truly merry, and deeply meaningful holiday Mike!

    Reply

  13. Steph McCoy
    Dec 25, 2017 @ 16:00:48

    Mike, my visit to your blog has been way overdue and I’m so glad I stopped by today. I’m making a note to watch Miracle on 34th Street (I so hope it’s on Netflix but if not I’ll find it). I haven’t seen the movie in decades but your description of it makes me long to see it again with the hopes of stirring my imagination. When I read fiction especially the sci-fi genre I wonder how writers such as you are able to create fantasy worlds. It’s such an awesome gift! Merry Christmas!!

    Reply

    • The Eye-Dancers
      Dec 26, 2017 @ 14:44:36

      Thanks so much, Steph! It is great to hear from you.:) I hope your holiday season is going great, and that you have a wonderful New Year! And also hoping you do indeed get the chance to watch Miracle on 34th Street.:)

      Reply

      • Steph McCoy
        Dec 27, 2017 @ 01:34:20

        Hey Mike, I did indeed watch Miracle on 34th Street last night and I’m so glad I did. I’d thought I’d forgotten most of what happened during the story but as I watched it all came back. There were a few lines that caught my attention but my favorite which seems so applicable today was when Kris said “seems we’re all so busy trying to beat the other fellow in making things go faster and look shinier and cost less that Christmas and I are sort of getting lost in the shuffle.” Have a Happy New Year Mike!

      • The Eye-Dancers
        Dec 27, 2017 @ 20:26:44

        Happy New Year, Steph! And yes–it’s amazing how lines from old movies and old TV shows can still resonate so much today, isn’t it? Glad you watched Miracle on 34th Street!:)

  14. Lyn
    Dec 26, 2017 @ 12:39:55

    It sure is a great movie. It’s even older than me 😀 You’re right — it is about faith. Without faith we live a pretty miserable existence. Hope your Christmas was wonderful, Mike. “Talk” to you in a day or two 😉

    Reply

  15. Donna Gwinnell Lambo-Weidner
    Dec 27, 2017 @ 01:49:43

    I ❤ Miracle on 34th St! Cheers to you and yours for a blessed holiday season and a Happy and Healthy New Year, Mike!

    Reply

  16. A. Guanlao
    Dec 31, 2017 @ 07:59:19

    Thank you for liking one of my posts. This post reminded me of something my mother told me years ago. I don’t remember her exact words, but she wanted me to trust my imagination more. She also told me that my imagination would be a key part of my future. I was skeptical about these ideas at the time, but now I think she is right. I find that I am less successful and happy when I am too practical. Her words stay with me because shortly after she said them to me she became seriously ill and died. Perhaps she was giving me some prophetic last-minute advice.

    I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, and I hope 2018 will be a fantastic year for you. 🙂

    Reply

    • The Eye-Dancers
      Dec 31, 2017 @ 11:56:07

      That is an amazing and very touching memory, Arlene–thanks so much for sharing that.:) And I definitely agree. I think imagination is essential, not just for writers and artists, but for everyone. Sometimes we just need to mentally “go somewhere else,” to escape the day-to-day grind. Of course, some of us (like me!) do that more often than others.:) Have a great New Year’s!

      Reply

      • A. Guanlao
        Jan 01, 2018 @ 18:38:20

        You are welcome, Mike. I agree with you. Imagining something good and positive can help you cope with life’s harsh realities. Maybe the need to mentally escape the day-to-day grind is the part of the reason why we dream and daydream too. I also hope you have a great New Year! 🙂

  17. The Thrifty Campers
    Dec 31, 2017 @ 17:41:11

    Oh Miracle On 34th Street is a classic indeed.nice movie choice. I may need to watch that this year while I still have time☃️

    Reply

  18. candidkay
    Jan 03, 2018 @ 01:57:11

    Oh, I love this. Imagination–what a wonderful reminder. Thank you! You’re right–appointments, bills and the dishes need to wait sometimes.

    Reply

  19. Valentina
    Jan 04, 2018 @ 01:56:34

    The photo of the path in the fog is surreal. I love black & white photography.

    Reply

  20. Teagan R. Geneviene
    Jan 08, 2018 @ 15:16:58

    Delightful as always, Michael. Happy New Year.

    Reply

  21. Karina Pinella
    Jan 19, 2018 @ 23:53:10

    One of my traditional must view when I was younger included the drummer boy and Dr Suess’ when the Grinch stole Christmas. Also, Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-nose reindeer. Sigh

    Reply

  22. reocochran
    Mar 10, 2018 @ 23:30:51

    Last Thanksgiving, 2017, (2 days before the feast) my 18 months’ younger brother had slipped as he got out of the shower and hit his head. He went to bed, when he got up, he was dizzy and queasy. He forgot he had fallen and when I texted he said he “was under the weather.” Twice during the meal, I told my family “This isn’t like Randy!” He has always been a party and holiday mood lifter.
    So, half his skull was removed to get the brain bleed and clot out! I didn’t send Any Christmas cards, No cookies baked nor any regular activity. Finally, after trips from where I live to travel to University Hospital, I just texted a few notes and gave up. I luckily always have gifts in my closet, ready to wrap. (I bought three today! 3/9/18)
    I didn’t make it here either, I see. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and Happy New months to go in 2018, Mike! 🎉 ✨ 💖

    Reply

  23. reocochran
    Mar 10, 2018 @ 23:31:33

    Happy Nine Months to Go in 2018! 🌟 💕

    Reply

  24. sherazade
    Dec 22, 2018 @ 23:04:11

    Un bellissimo film Miracle sulla 34a strada❤.
    Tornerò a leggere presto adesso soltanto Ti auguro Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2019.A presto.
    Ciao da Roma
    Shera 🌲🌲🌲🥂🥂🥂

    Reply

  25. sherazade
    Dec 22, 2018 @ 23:13:32

    Reply

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