by Jim Murchison
We have had our first major snowfall in Ottawa and it was that quiet falling flaky snow that everyone thinks of as Christmas snow. This has arrived just in time for the Christmas shows. Sometimes there are some surprises, but more often than not we have more musicals and family fare.
This year there is a one day presentation of A Christmas Carol, but the main theatres are a little less obvious and are going more for the spirit of the season this year. Ethan Claymore at the Gladstone is being promoted with, “just in time for Christmas, a story to warm your heart.” The Sound of Music at NAC, although not a Christmas story per se, is still a clear choice for the holidays.
The themes of hope, triumph over adversity and miracles actually work as themes for theatre any time of year. I am a particular sucker for stories where everything is going bad and then something incredible happens that saves Christmas or the day in general. I never get tired of the original Grinch, Boris Karloff. I love It's a Wonderful Life. It works for me because of how dark things get before George Bailey finds out how good life really is, because of the people he invested in, never realizing how affected they were by it.
The commercialism and marketing and the pressure that people feel about Christmas and the New Year, both financial and social, sometimes make it a very difficult time. For me I lost a large chunk of Christmas when my sister died, but 8 days later my first daughter was born and my children made what might have been a very difficult time for me a joy. Now they're getting older and it will be a joy to spend time with them at Christmas, but I know there may be times when we are in different cities and I may not have them both with me at Christmas or possibly at all some years. They have become beautiful young women and don't need me or their mom to plan a social calendar. Similarly, my social network has changed and my theatre family is growing. This is how it should be.
Take time for yourself, find someone you love, curl up and do something you love to do.
Maybe you want to watch Psycho, not Miracle on 34th Street. Whatever it is, let's make the holidays about family over marketing and love over consumerism. I know this isn't a radical new idea but it's something we need to remind ourselves about so that the holidays don't spin out of control.
I say Merry Christmas because I always have, but if you celebrate something else, read my words to mean: peace and joy for now and the new year.