This coming Tuesday, CBS will air Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer for the 50th year! That thought staggers me, because I have seen it every one of those years but one. When I was eight or nine, I got in trouble. I don’t remember what I did to get in trouble, but I remember my punishment was that I was not allowed to watch Rudolph that night. I lay in the doorway of my room with my head sticking out in the hall (most of me was in my room), listening to the sounds of Rudolph coming from the living room.
I know it’s dated and sexist, and the animation is kind of cheesy, but I love that show. For many reasons. Even at such a young age, I knew I wanted a girl to think I was cute. I already felt like a misfit in a lot of ways, and the message in that program that “even misfits have a place” resonated with me.
So where in the world is this blog going and how does it relate to the title, you ask? Well, in the words of Sam the Snowman, “Pull up an ice block and I’ll tell you.”
There are several movies that I love at Christmastime: old movies like It’s a Wonderful Life, of course, and Miracle on 34th Street, The Bishop’s Wife, and The Bells of St. Mary – they never get old. But there are more recent movies as well, such as Sleepless in Seattle and While You Were Sleeping that I love also.
My own family became rather fractured after my mother’s death from cancer when I was 26. My dad remarried a woman who drove a wedge between us for nearly 20 years, and during that time, I stayed close only to my youngest sister and put together a family of choice – as many of us have. When Beth and I got together, her family was an enigma to me. There were a lot of them, they were loud and boisterous and (gasp) they actually seemed to like being together!!
As much as I enjoy being with them, in the beginning, my introvert side was often overwhelmed by all the togetherness. I often slipped away to an empty room or out into the yard for some quiet time. After a while, Beth would come to find me, and then the sisters came to find her and then the husbands and children would come to find them, and pretty soon, the entire family had gathered in the place I went to be alone. Beth could only give me an apologetic shrug and smile.
For over twenty years, I have sat at the table with them, watching fourteen or more people carrying on five conversations at once – and taking part in all five simultaneously. It cracks me up. At some point, I’ll lean toward Beth and say, “Cesar Romero was tall.” She just laughs. I’m so glad she gets me. My misfit days were done when I met her.
If you don’t get the Cesar Romero reference, you HAVE to watch While You Were Sleeping, and keep an eye out for the scene at the dinner table. You’ll understand then.
It was that sense of longing to belong, to be loved by someone who gets you despite (or maybe because of) your quirks that prompted my short story, Twist of the Magi.
Whatever you celebrate during this season of short days and long, dark nights – whether it’s the Solstice or Chanukah or Christmas or just time spent with family and friends, I wish for you the joy of knowing you belong somewhere with someone who gets you.