Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

The Post – Faith is Believing in Something When Common Sense Tells You Not To

June 17, 2008

Something about summer’s heat always makes me stop and think about Christmas and all it stands for. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s just that at June, we’re half a year’s away from those times of generosity and remembering Jesus’s birth, and all that He stood for.

Whenever I think of Christmas, there are certain rituals I remember and savor. One of them is watching my absolute favorite movie for Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, the 1947 version, in my opinion, the only true …and magical version. Yes, it’s another one of those simplistic happy movies, like It’s a Wonderful Life, or Come to the Stable, movies with uncomplicated people who just know what the season and its “intangible” gifts are all about…and yes, I love the movie. Apparently so did the cast.

In an interview with Maureen O’Hara several years ago she mentioned how she was vacationing in Ireland when she was told to return to make this movie. She was angry and didn’t want to do it. Yet when she read the script she changed her mind. In another interview, she commented that there was something that happened during the making of this movie that made them all feel happy and at peace. After a while, they all started believing Edmund Gwynne [the actor playing Kris Kringle] really was Santa Claus. She noted that the energy on the set was positive, almost magical. I know, watching the movie, that’s how I feel.

I found a site called Script-O-Rama that has scripts of many movies, Miracle on 34th Street, included. While a few errors here and there (that I corrected below from my own copy of the movie), the web author does have a pretty good copy of the movie’s script.

I included a couple excerpts from the movie’s script, including the pivotal scene that to me, sums up the movie’s message succinctly – that faith is believing in something when common sense tells you not to, and that ultimately, the intangibles in life, such as love and joy, are the only things that ARE worthwhile.

So for your reading pleasure, a summertime glimpse at Miracle on 34th Street!

___________________

In the courtroom, attorney, Fred Gailey [John Payne], sets everyone abuzz when he states at the beginning of the trial:

I intend to prove that Mr. Kringle is Santa Claus.

The next scene puts him at the apartment of the woman he’s been dating, Doris [Maureen O’Hara]. She is the very effective, logical, and all-business executive at Macy’s Department Store and doesn’t share Gailey’s enthusiasm for this idealistic quest:

DORIS: But you can’t possibly prove that he’s Santa Claus.

GAILEY: Why not? You saw Macy and Gimbel shaking hands. [Something Kris Kringle brought about because of his contagious joy] That wasn’t possible either, but it happened.

DORIS: Honestly…

GAILEY: It’s the best defense I can use. Completely logical and completely unexpected.

DORIS: And completely idiotic. What about your bosses… Haislip and Mackenzie and the rest of them? What do they say?

GAILEY: That I am jeopardizing the prestige and dignity of an old, established law firm and either I drop this impossible case immediately…or they will drop me.

DORIS: See?

GAILEY: I beat them to it. I quit.

DORIS: Fred, you didn’t.

GAILEY: Of course I did. I can’t let Kris down. He needs me, and all the rest of us need him.

DORIS: Look darling, he’s a nice old man and I admire you for wanting to help him, but you’ve got to be realistic and face facts. You can’t just throw your career away because of a sentimental whim.

GAILEY: But I’m not throwing my career away.

DORIS:But if Haislip feels that way so will every other law firm in town.

GAILEY: I’m sure they will. Then I’ll open my own office.

DORIS: And what kind of cases will you get?

GAILEY: Oh, probably a lot of people like Kris that are being pushed around. That’s the only fun in law anyway. But I promise you, if you believe in me and have faith in me everything will… You don’t have any faith in me, do you?

DORIS: It’s not a question of faith. It’s just common sense.

GAILEY: Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to….Don’t you see, it’s not just Kris that’s on trial. It’s everything he stands for.

DORIS: Oh Fred.

GAILEY: It’s kindness, and joy, and love, and all the other intangibles.

DORIS: Oh, Fred, you’re talking like a child. You’re living in a realistic world and those lovely intangibles of yours are attractive but not worth very much. You don’t get ahead that way.

GAILEY: That all depends on what you call getting ahead. Evidently, you and I have different definitions.

DORIS: These last few days we’ve talked about some wonderful plans, but then you go on an idealistic binge. You give up your job, you throw away all your security…and then you expect me to be happy about it!

GAILEY: Yes, I guess I expected too much…. Look Doris, someday you’re going to find out that your way of facing this realistic world just doesn’t work. And when you do, don’t overlook those lovely intangibles. You’ll discover they’re the only things that are worthwhile.

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The Post – Good Friday…Last Book Chapter

March 21, 2008

It is Good Friday. A day for some reason, I have always loved. That, Lent, and Holy Thursday. Easter itself, I hate. It always seemed like such a noisy unnecessary thing after the sanctity of the soul’s connection to God on Thursday and Friday.

I loved growing up in Catholic school and going to Mass every morning. Six days a week while in grammar school, I was in Mass. Six days a week for 8 years, I listened to the stories of Jesus’s life. They were as real to me as my family, truly meaningful, and enjoyed as much as Nancy Drew. The readings that cycled every year, dictated by the seasons of the liturgical calendar were as much a part of my life and soul as the leaves changing color, skies staying steely gray, and the crisp cold that smelled of snow dictated by the changing seasons of New England.

Every year there was a constancy, a rhythm, something you could count on to return to. No matter what else happened in life – those were my touchstones. Raking leaves into piles you could jump into, short days and long nights, cold Halloweens with orange full moons in costumes bought at the discount store, my grandfather bringing pails of sand/salt mix home from the Town Garage, the rhythm of those happenings matched the Advent wreath candles and the church readings as we marched toward Christmas.

The anticipation of Christ’s birth matched the anxiety of waiting for Santa Claus. Midnight Mass in a candle-lit church, boughs of pine branches decorating the walls and door arches, being with all those old Slovak immigrants I knew so well, who built that church, even the way they filled the pews inside – old men on one side in the back, old women on the other side in the back, the younger families (unsegregated) in the rows in front of them – all those images and happenings was as much loved and needed by me, as going home to open presents. In looking back, I think actually, that those moments in the church surrounded by those people, those images, those sights, sounds, and smells, are what I remember more than going home and opening presents.

While the church images are crisp, the presents are kind of a fog. A few stand out: a Jon Gnagy art set, a microscope with dissecting kit, a map-making set, my Dick Tracy machine gun with Marine Corps helmet, canteen, and pistol, and in ironic contrast – soft warm new flannel pajamas, and a plastic carrying case with new pretty underwear each one labeled for a day of the week. Perhaps the ones that stand out in my memory are there because they connected with those parts of who I really am. …as to the days-of-the-week underwear…maybe that’s why I love planners???? 🙂 But the bottom line is that if I were told today that my memory was going and I could only retain certain memories and lose the rest, it is those memories of early weekday mornings in church, and holidays spent there, that I would choose.

So it is that same connection that continues to influence me throughout the rest of the year’s happenings and the rest of the year’s liturgical seasons. While I hate Easter – always HATED having to go buy a new dress and coat, then stand around like a china doll with an itchy crinolin slip, shiny shoes, straw hat and purse, and gloves (gloves – why wear something you always have to keep track of, in a season where it’s no longer cold enough to need them????), unable to run around with the boys in the backyard and have fun – I LOVED Lent, Holy Thursday, and Good Friday.

Lent itself was about focus, commitment, ritual and stories. You focused on something – the coming trauma Jesus would go through. You gave something up – allowance money, candy, gum, whatever, for something bigger than yourself. (Though in our house, you were allowed to indulge on Sundays) You did the ritual of the Stations of the Cross around the Church, every Friday and listened to the gospel readings. For both of those, it was about “story.” Each station was a painted picture on the wall that told a part of the story of the crucifixion. The gospel gave the whole story.

Holy Thursday nights were processions in church, long litanies recited in Latin by visiting priests, the smell of the hyacinths we carried as we marched, the sense of being together again in that place where everyone I knew was going to be, and…the stories. The story of the Last Supper, the Agony in the Garden, Jesus being taken to the Sanhedrin and to Pilate, Peter denying he knew Jesus. I loved the stories. They were like old friends.

Good Friday was a time to hear the whole long, VERY long gospel, so long that halfway through, the priest would stop reading, turn and kneel silently for a minute or two, then stand and finish the rest. It was a day when my mom would make us turn off the radios and TV and keep things “quiet” so you could honor what that day meant. It was a time when the church was stripped bare to symbolically represent the loss of Jesus, and to contemplate what that meant. It was a day to think about a story’s march through rising problems, crisis, and climax, with the relief and resolution Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday would bring.

So here it is today, Good Friday again. I was standing in the bathroom this morning talking to my husband about what I was going to get done today. I said that originally I was going to go to the gym and swim but that I canned that idea. I wanted this last chapter revision of my book finished today, no matter what. I said that it just felt like it needed to be today. He made a joke about it being like our son’s birth- our son was two weeks late, wouldn’t leave even when I started eating Mexican food, had to be induced, and during the last stages of labor I literally remember telling him to “Get out!”

I said, no it wasn’t about labor, but something about the fact it was Good Friday. And I wasn’t sure why. Just felt for some reason, the “season” of my book, needed to match the liturgical season of the day. I said, “I don’t know why but it just feels like this book NEEDS to be finished today, like today is the right day. So the hell with the gym, I’m just going down in the garage (where I work) and finish this damned thing today. At the end of today, I just want to be able to say that this draft is finished.”

Now, I’ll still have “polishing and cutting work to do in the next draft but that will now be a whole different process, almost fun. This draft, like draft # one, was like giving birth, like creating and writing from scratch. Now, I can “play.” The agony of the creating and writing from scratch phase will “be finished.”

As soon as the word “finished” tumbled out of my mouth, the lines from the Gospel of John flashed in my brain:

“After this, Jesus knowing that all was now finished, said, to fulfill the scripture, ‘I thirst.’ A bowl of vinegar stood there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to His mouth. When Jesus had received the vinegar, He said, ‘It is finished’ and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” (John 19:28-30)

So today is Good Friday, a day I have always loved, though I cannot tell you why, other than to say that always on Good Friday, something in my soul has felt complete. So today, I will honor the silent moments of the liturgical season, with the silence of completing my book. If it takes until midnight, I will finish today, so that the two stories shall meet in the single line: “It is finished.”

The Post – Caring, is catchy

January 30, 2008

Probably the most interesting thing in the fiddler crab experiment is my family’s reaction to them. My son came home from college at Christmas and initially looked at me like I was crazy because I talked so much about the crabs. In fact, my independent college student complained I was paying more attention to the fiddler crabs. He kept laughing at me as I talked to the crustaceans in that high-pitched mommy voice previously reserved for my toddler son and pet poodles. My husband just kept teasing me about the total amount we were up to on fiddler crab expenditures.

Within of day of being home, my son started watching them, and within a few days he was keeping track of who was doing what and telling me to check on Melanie Hamilton or Rhett Butler. In fact, I think he was the one who first noticed that Rhett Butler was dead.

My husband was the one who spotted Scarlett O’Hara molting and eagerly called me over to see her when I came in from grocery shopping. Last night, he came in from work and before he even said hello to me he stopped, peered in the tank and said with great concern, “There’s something wrong with Admiral Byrd! I think he’s dead!” As it turned out (after I poked Admiral Byrd with my latest acquisition, a 25 cc plastic pipette and bulb from Science Safari that I use to siphon out excess food), I think Admiral Byrd was just sleeping – they kind of hang there, their claws floating above their heads, and don’t react to much. But my husband walked away and said very seriously, “I think you’d better keep an eye on him.”

What I realized is that caring, like a cold, is an occupational hazard of sharing space. When you share space, even with a creature who has a brain the size of a pinpoint, it starts to get personal. When it’s personal, you start to care, even when you didn’t mean to.

I think the same thing happens with people. So often you hear people say, “I don’t like this group or that.” Then they meet someone from that group and find out they really are okay . . . maybe even . . . nice. It’s hard to share space – sit across the table from someone, hear their humanness, see it in their eyes – and not care. That’s the real risk factor I suspect . . . contact . . . sharing space. The minute you share the space, you start to see the real person. Once that happens, it’s personal. And once it’s personal, you’re done for because caring is catchy.