16 December 2009

Christmas is a Magical Time

I was thinking the other day about all the "stuff" that comes along with Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanzaa/Yule. No matter your particular religious persuasion, this time of year always revolves around some kind of miracle. A miniscule amount of oil that lasts for eight nights, a virgin birth, light returning to the world, something. Even out here in the secular world, we have Santa, who manages to perform mulitple acts of B&E, leaving no trace and presents for good children in his wake. Anyway, it occurred to me that this is the one time of year when EVERYONE becomes a believer in the things we Fantasy writers work with every day: magic. Whether you call it magic or miracle is a matter of personal choice, but there's no denying that we're all inspired to put our faith in something we can't see.

In keeping with the spirit of the holidays, I've compiled a list of the twelve (of course) best movies that take us back to our optimistic childhood and remind us to believe in magic, if only for one month out of the year.

1)The Polar Express: A fantastic book (and Caldecott award winner) with gorgeous illustrations, the movie version is one film that does justice to its source material. Come on, a magic train that whisks you to the North Pole on Christmas Eve? You don't GET much more magical than that. I like to fancy that I, like the narrator, could hear the bells on Santa's sleigh, even though I've supposedly grown up.

2) Miracle on 34th St.: Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus. I don't think I can add expound on it any better.

3)It's a Wonderful Life: We all should be so lucky as to be given the chance to see how much of an impact we have on those around us and return to tell the tale. "Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings." Simple, childlike magic, but magic nonetheless.

4) A Christmas Carol: it's out there in a million variations, from Scrooged with Bill Murray to the musical with Albert Finney. If this story took place on any other night but Christmas, you'd call it Paranormal Time Travel.

5)Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: any movie that involves the Big Jolly Man includes some kind of magic. Flying Reindeer, one of which has a beacon on his nose bright enough to pierce through pea-soup fog? That's magic, baby!

6)The Grinch that Stole Christmas: either the animated or Jim Carrey version will do, but this is alternate reality at it's finest, and nobody bothers to even wonder-what the heck is a Who?

7)Frosty the Snowman: of course. Rudolph and Frosty are like PB&J. It's all about a magical hat that makes animates frozen water molecules. That's ALMOST a good premise for a Sci-Fi story.

8)White Christmas: perhaps not a magical story per se, but there's some kind of power at work at the end, when the warmest winter Vermont has ever seen suddenly turns into a Winter Wonderland, and enough is laying on the ground that a horse-drawn sleigh can move through it. Weather magic, maybe? Was Bing Crosby's voice enough to make is snow?

Okay, so I didn't make it to twelve. I leave it to you to find the last four. But you've got the idea. This Christmas, look at the wonder all around you, and feel the magic. If you can, take a little Christmas magic and carry it with you all year long.

Happy Holidays!

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