This year we watched Home Alone for the first time with the kids. Some themes are probably a bit too mature for them still, but in 2023, shielding kids feels futile. For some reason, I have always enjoyed the way characters exist and interact in both of the Home Alone movies. There are the obvious ones that no one can forget---Kevin, his woefully irresponsible parents, Buzz- his brother who is probably still wearing his high school letterman jacket to the local bar, and the Wet/Sticky bandits.
There are, however, a pair of characters that make those movies complete, IMHO. Those are Old Man Marley from the first movie and the unnamed piegon lady in the second. They are two souls who had been beaten down by a cruel world (admittedly partially of their own doing), who then found happiness and resolve in the ignorance of a [wise] child. The possibility of those positive outcomes only happening with selflessness and goodwill toward strangers.
As our second oldest has navigated a path of learning that has involved Diwali, Chanukah, the Winter Solstice, and a variety of different Christmas traditions from around the globe, we have been reminded that in nearly all of these celebrations, light and hope are common themes. In the movies mentioned above, Kevin rekindled hope, and in turn, provided light for those villain-turned-heroes.
I suppose it's a bit kitschy or cliche to wish that everyone provide that beacon to a friend, neighbor, or hell---even an enemy this holiday season. I'm going to wish it anyway. Life is too short to approach it any other way. So let this be the year that you look into becoming a foster parent... or volunteering for a local non-profit... or even just going out of your way to hold the door for someone that really just needs to see a smiling face.
Presents are great, and so is the candy, the Broken Yoke prime rib roast, and the Christmas Ale, but I was reminded yesterday---like Old Man Marley--- that genuine kindness beats anything you can buy at the box store. You see, our oldest, in an effort to make his siblings smile, gifted them his most favorite toys... and did so with the joy of Santa Claus on Christmas night. It was.....humbling. He just wanted them to be happy, and even if it meant that he had to give up his fire badge that is attached to his favorite Marshall stuffed animal, he was willing and happy to do it. He found a deep value in being a light.
The lesson I learned as a child, and was reminded of yesterday; as we celebrate whatever holiday it is that we do (or don't) celebrate, and as we mingle with folks who do (or don't) see the world the same way, just be a light.....after all, it will probably help to brighten your own day too!
Your Grouchy Old Farmer