I know it’s not even December yet, but Thanksgiving is past, so I’m well within my rights to begin observing traditional Christmas practices, one of which, is watching holiday movies. Other than spending time with family, gathered together cozily in a warm living room, laughing together, there is nothing that gets me more in the holiday spirit than watching Christmas movies, which I think is mostly a nostalgia thing, because I re-watch a lot of my favorites from when I was younger, from back when Christmas was still a magical time full of excitement and wonder. Watching Christmas movies is the closest thing I’ve found to recapturing some of those feelings, so last night, a few minutes after eight, I found a classic Christmas movie on YouTube, started streaming it to my TV, and waited for the magic to take me away.
It didn’t exactly go how I’d expected. The movie was Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, the 1964 animated classic narrated by the snow man voiced by Burl Ives, and apparently it had been a while since I’d seen it, because there obvious flaws throughout the movie that I didn’t remember from previous viewings, like for instance, all of the jerks at the North Pole. When you think about the North Pole, images are conjured up of a magical place, one where elves are happily doing a job that they love and Santa is cheerfully in his office, making his list, checking it twice, and eating plenty of Christmas cookies provided by the lovely Mrs. Clause, but this is not the case in Rudolph’s world. From the very beginning, Mrs. Clause is badgering Santa to eat, not cookies or some other Christmas snack, but a gray, indecipherable, depressing blob on the plate in front of Santa. It looks disgusting, but Mrs. Clause keeps yelling at him to eat, berating her husband for being so skinny, but honestly, if my wife’s cooking looked like that, I would probably be skinny too, because that “food” didn’t even look edible. Believe it or not, Mrs. Clause is one of the nicer characters.
Donner, the reindeer who is the father of Rudolph, is a jerk from the very beginning too, ashamed of his son’s red nose for some reason. He constantly talks about it like it’s a bad thing and tries to cover it up with mud and when that doesn’t work makes him a detachable nose that makes it hard for Rudolph to breathe and makes him talk funny. After Rudolph’s fake nose pops off in front of Santa and his red nose is exposed, Donner, the one who should be supportive and encouraging to his son, basically tells him that he’s ashamed of Rudolph, which causes him to run away from home. Worst father of the year. The head elf is a real jerk too, tasked with supervising the elves as they make the toys in preparation of Christmas, he doesn’t make it the fun filled and cheerful environment that other movies would have you believe. He’s constantly yelling at the elves to hurry up with their work, and criticizing one in particular, calling him a terrible elf and telling him that he doesn’t belong there, causing that elf to jump out the window…and run away from the North Pole as well. Then there’s the Christmas song that the elves performed for Santa and Mrs. Clause, that he, the head elf was conducting. Christmas songs should be fun, cheerful and full of joy, but at the end of the song, he yelled at the elves that they sounded terrible!
Last but certainly not least, is the biggest jerk of all, easily the most surprising, Santa Clause himself. I don’t think in any Christmas movie that I’ve seen, that Santa Clause has been portrayed as such a negative person, let alone, in a kids movie. Santa does his share of hating on Rudolph’s red nose, first when he stops by to see him when he is born and then again when the fake nose pops off, not allowing him to be on the sleigh team, the group of reindeer that pulls his sleigh because of it, despite the fact that Rudolph is one of the best flyers in the class. The icing on the cake comes when the elves are performing their song for Santa, all dancing around and singing about being Santa’s elves and how happy they are in their jobs. During the musical number Santa couldn’t have been more disinterested, slouching in his chair, looking away, and I think even rolling his eyes. When the song was over he got up and made some disparaging remark about it, not giving the elves any credit whatsoever, before abruptly walking out of the room. This is the man that kids are supposed to adore, but watching Rudolph makes me think that I wouldn’t want that jerk anywhere near my home on what is one of the happiest days of the year. It was a real eye opening experience for me, but at least now I know that nobody at the North Pole can be trusted, least of all Santa Clause, the perfect realization to kick off this holiday season!