The Muppets Christmas Carol: The Best Christmas Movie
If you haven’t seen this masterpiece starring Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge, the Great Gonzo as Charles Dickens, and Rizzo the Rat as himself then you are missing one of the greatest pieces of cinema created by mankind.
Alright, that may be a bit too much praise, but the movie deserves a place among those you watch annually around Christmas time. Not only is the Christmas Carol on its own a classic story about the true spirit of Christmas (and a warning against obsession with money and status), but the Muppets bring a unique character and meaning to the message that can be missed in other adaptations and allow the story to be more accessible to the kiddos.
My personal favorite song from the show (yes, it's even a musical!) is sung by the Ghost of Christmas Present. He and Scrooge go strolling the streets on Christmas day, and the Ghost breaks into song: "It is the season of the heart, a special time of caring, the ways of love made clear" and "Wherever you find love, it feels like Christmas!" Not only is that a fair representation of the Christian meaning of Christmas, the birth of Christ being the beginning of the ultimate love story, but also distills the overall atmosphere of a proper Christmas. Christmas celebrated right should be a celebration of love: the love you have for your family, your friends, and your neighbors. It’s a season of giving, not just gifts, but smiles, donations, and friendly conversation.
The counterpoint to this is a song (regrettably missing from the new DVD release, but
included in the original VHS) entitled “When Love is Gone” which describes essentially the opposite of Christmas. The relationship between Scrooge and Belle has chilled: Scrooge has become too focused on money, business, and material things causing him to neglect Belle, subverting his love and kindness to the proverbial bottom line of business. “Be careful or you may regret the choice you made some day... when love is gone” sings Belle, and Scrooge does. The last warmth in his life leaves him before it is snuffed out completely by his lack of Christmas spirit, his lack of love.
Often people can find themselves preoccupied by the financial and material side of Christmas. I have to spend more than $60 on mom, because last year I spent $50 and I can’t seem like I’m slacking. I simply can’t afford Christmas this year, I don’t have enough. These issues miss the whole point of the season: that the meaningfulness of the gift matters much more than its material worth; that your love is the gift beyond value.
The whole Christmas Carol can really be summed up by this quote from A.A. Milne, of Winnie the Pooh fame: “I suppose that every one of us hopes secretly for immortality; to leave, I mean, a name behind him which will live forever in this world, whatever he may be doing, himself, in the next.” Scrooge is confronted with the name he was going to leave behind, that of a miserly old man with nary a hint of love in his black soul. With this realization he embraces the Christmas spirit, the spirit of love to be shared with all and not just during the Christmas season.
I recommend we ask ourselves this as well: What name do we want to leave behind? One who celebrates, as the Ghost of Christmas Present exhorts Scrooge, Christmas all year long? Only during December? One who doesn’t celebrate it at all? Someone empty of love?
And no, this has not been an elaborate justification to listen to Christmas music all year.
Though, thinking of that…