Just Like The Ones I Used To Know

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I have a confession to make. I’m a sucker for the movie White Christmas. I watched a broadcast of it the other night and then realized that I already owned the movie on dvd. I can watch White Christmas any day of the year..though I wouldn’t.

What is it about that movie that gets to me? My broadcast buddy Simi Sara, I know, feels the same way about It’s A Wonderful Life. Some of you are addicted to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. The sound of jazz legend Vince Guaraldi’s piano in  A Charlie Brown Christmas brings an instant lump to my throat. It’s all relative and it’s all very personal.

There are absolutely predictable, unavoidable choke points for me in White Christmas. When the soldiers sing for the General, ‘We’ll Follow the Old Man‘, I lose it. When Danny Kaye sweeps up Vera Ellen for The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing I get a stupid grin on my face.  When the General gets his disappointing letter from the army indicating he’s too old for command, it’s emotional for me. Certainly the ending…when they throw open the barn doors to reveal a suddenly snowy New England countryside, brings on the tears.

I’ve considered this a long time. I don’t think it’s the characters (universally admirable), the storyline (universally hokey), or even the music (universally universal). What triggers my emotions in a movie like White Christmas is the gilded memory of a sweeter time.

They were filming White Christmas the year I was born…1953. I have impossibly romanticized the early Christmases of my life. My mother died when I was fifteen and from that moment on everything changed. The years before her death have taken on a rosy, legendary glow. Life was not perfect but it sure seemed that way, at least to my, then, childish, naive sensibilities . The family was intact. I was shielded from sorrow. The world was right.

That’s what pushes my buttons about a movie like White Christmas. It’s a fond, almost painful reminder of a time none of us truly ever get back, a time that existed merely in a youthful mind’s eye.

My own children have had years like this. They’ve enjoyed the bedrock Christmases upon which many others will be built. When they lose enough, they’ll feel it too.

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4 Responses to “Just Like The Ones I Used To Know”

  1. White Christmas is a must for me at this time for year. I also stumbled upon it on TV last weekend while baking Norwegian pepper cakes (another Christmas tradition though a more recent one). I too enjoyed the broadcast despite having the classic on VHS! My nostalgia has an entirely different foundation, but it’s also based on a remembrance of happier, simpler times. I’m sure this is the case for a great many of us. Sigh.

  2. Mike Hutchison Says:

    Great column… sums it up exactly. I have so many good memories of Christmastime as a kid!

  3. Chris Blaney Says:

    I got a lump in my throat just reading your blog Dave!

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