Christmas thoughts: What I learned from “Miracle on 34th Street”

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When I was a little girl, Miracle on 34th Street was one of my favorite Christmas movies.

My parents could never get me to believe in Santa Claus.  (I was very much like little Susan Walker that way.)

My mom told me (more than once), when I lamented about not having blond hair and blue eyes like all the other little girls wanted, that Natalie Wood (who played Susan in the movie) grew up to be one of the most beautiful women in the world, with her dark hair and brown eyes, like mine.

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Not long before I became a mom, I was touched by the scene in which Kris Kringle asks Susan if her mother ever sang to her.  Susan says no–in that matter-of-fact way of hers–and I saw, in Kris’s merry eyes, how unfortunate that was.

Twas then I realized that I would always sing to my children.

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When Susan blows off a game in which the other children in her apartment complex are pretending to be animals in a zoo, calling it silly, with Kris telling her it sounds like fun, I realized that fun is an essential part of childhood.

I was never much for pretending when I was a kid (I just drew my stories until I was old enough to write them), but I chose to nurture that in my child.

I chose, and am choosing still, to give my daughter that magical childhood, for there is time enough to be an adult with all the baggage that comes with it.

Maybe through writing my stories, I am pretending still.

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Even though I never believed in Santa Claus (too many jerky kids got on the nice list), I fell in love with the idea of him, for I believe that we can all play Santa Claus–not to all the children of the world necessarily, but to our own, if no one else.

15 Life Lessons Learned From Classic Movies

 

  1. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn: Written lies can be stories.  (Just don’t print them as truth.)
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird: Sometimes there are consequences for doing the right thing.
  3. Gone with the Wind: You might lose your soul-mate by pining for someone else’s.
  4. Clash by Night: “It’s who I am” is not an excuse for being a jerk.
  5. Johnny Belinda: Sometimes you say it best when you say nothing at all.
  6. 9-5: If you want good office morale, treat your employees right.
  7. Office Space: “Humans weren’t meant to sit in a cubicle all day.”
  8. 12 Angry Men: “Not guilty” isn’t the same thing as “innocent”.
  9. The Night of the Hunter: Religion can wound, and it can heal; it depends upon the application.
  10. It’s a Wonderful Life: Your life matters more than you realize.
  11. Miracle on 34th Street:  Let children be children.
  12. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers: Never stop wooing your wife.
  13. Meet Me in St. Louis: A love of home and a sense of belonging is more important than more money.
  14. The Sound of Music:  Even in the darkest of times, music can be one’s salvation.
  15. Sullivan’s Travels: Making people laugh has intrinsic value.

One bright, shining thing

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I was ten years old when I saw “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus”, around a quarter of a century ago, and I never forgot it.  I’m not even sure if it’s a Hallmark movie (if it is, I can say, “They sure don’t make ’em like they use to”).  That said, for some reason, I never believed in Santa Claus (my parents tried, but I was like little Susan Walker on “Miracle on 34th Street”); I don’t know why that was–I suppose, being a very imaginative child, I thought everything that wasn’t Biblical or historical was simply a story, and that it was fun to pretend.

For years, I’ve tried to find a copy of “Virginia”, to no avail.  Yesterday, I looked it up on YouTube, and there it was.  I caught many things as an adult that I did not as a child, such as how all the immigrants (from different countries, no less) looked out for each other.  It made me think of when my mom was in the military overseas and all the Americans were close-knit (so different than in the States).

I used to think I wanted to be a reporter (even though I was terribly shy, having not matured into an introvert yet), but I decided I wanted to write stories where I wouldn’t have to depend upon other people to provide the information.  I also wanted to write stories that would be remembered.  This was further confirmed when my English Comp II professor said, “Most people can name at least one book that’s changed their life, but not a newspaper article.”  When Franklin P. Church (the man who answers Virginia O’Hanlon’s question about whether or not there is a Santa Claus) says no one remembers a news story after 24 hours, I agreed.  It’s why I’m not majoring in journalism–because I want what I write to stand the test of time (though journalism can be a much more exciting and lucrative career).

When I read a biography of Aimee Semple McPherson (female evangelist who founded The Church of the Foursquare Gospel), it changed my mind on women pastors.  When I read D. James Kennedy’s, “What if Jesus Had Never Been Born?”, it opened my eyes to how the gospel of Jesus Christ not only affected those who chose Him, but also bettered the lives of those who did not who lived with those who had.  When I read “The Happy Room” by Catherine Palmer, it showed how Christians sometimes neglect their children in the name of being “called” to do missionary work, for what profits a person to save a village, but lose their own children?  “Many Moons” by James Thurber showed that children have simple wisdom.  Dr. Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” showed that the Christmas spirit cannot be found in a store, but comes from within.

I’d love to write such a book, but perhaps, I will someday write such a story (or editorial) like Franklin P. Church’s, even though newspapers are dying as blogs are being born.  Perhaps I will even write that story somewhere online, for words on a screen can be just as powerful as on paper (once they’re internalized) and they will live on in cyberspace, long after my soul has returned to the firmament.

The editorial:  http://www.nysun.com/editorials/yes-virginia/68502/

What is your story?