Family Christmas Movie: Act III: What’s it All about?

Galeone Sibling Christmas Card

Galeone Sibling Christmas Card

In many family Christmas movies, the main events take place on the main event. That main event can be Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Like all movies, there has to be something to drive at, what’s the crisis? What does our character need to accomplish or realize and how does Christmas play into that whole thing?

George Bailey had to realize that his life was worth living. Clark Griswold needed to prove that he could pull off a big family Christmas. Hugh Grant tracked down that curvy singer who thwarted the advances of Billy Bob Thornton.

Basic stuff.

This is what the main character ponders for the week before Christmas: What is this all about?

In the meantime he spends time with his family. In this movie, a viewer might see the character trying to successfully negotiate the booby trap pitfall Jenga tower that his mother calls “the refrigerator.” He is twice doused in sauces (guacamole and sour cream) and has never seen so many packets of blueberries in his life.

The viewer might also see him singing the entire score to Jesus Christ Superstar with his sister and trying to talk sense to the other sister, whose superpower seems to be morphing into an 11-year old girl after her third glass of wine.

The main character and his father spend every day laying down small, bite-sized bets on football games and making lists. In the middle of a football game the father character will announce something like:

“OK, thirty movies which take place in Europe, but not England or Italy.”

“OK. In Bruges, An American Werewolf in Paris, …”

On Christmas Eve night, the characters gather at the house of the matriarch. In this case, a ninety-two year old woman with wisdom, a sharp wit, and a surprisingly quick right hook. The other characters play an odd, lovable assortment of the main character’s extended clan.

There’s the aunt, the niece and nephew, the uncle who dislikes all other humans, and the younger cousin going gray at the tips thus reminding the main character that he is on a spaceship hurtling through time towards a city in the future called: Your Mortality.

Basic stuff.

The characters sit in the living room with a grandly decorated tree, and bleed out onto the back porch that they have sat on nearly every Christmas Eve for the last forty years and sip beers and wine.

The din is astounding. While the characters in this family are a solid model of an everyday American family of unique whackos, they are perhaps louder than most. The aromas tease from the Italian feast brewing in the kitchen. And while the family discusses a broad range of topics with amiable smiles, there is one sentence in the back of their heads:

I love these people, but if someone touches my meatballs I will skewer their ass.

The contents of the matriarch’s Christmas Eve feast is a discussion in the family for over 200 days a year. The Grandmom character’s meatballs are a thing of family lore. Not meatballs, Grandmom’s Meatballs. Just as dinner draws near, so do the people towards the kitchen.

While the main character is eating he has an epiphany that Christmas is all about meatballs. It’s almost there, but at the last second something doesn’t seem right about it…oh yeah, isn’t Christmas supposed to be about generosity, caring, giving your barn to fugitive virgins and their Messiah children? Or that Christmas is a perpetual state of mind rather than a season to gorge on presents and cookie figurines?

As the main character ponders this question, his family unleashes themselves in their natural habitat. It becomes clear to the viewer that while the characters in this family have to put on airs of normalcy in their day-to-day lives (main character included), it is in this house that they truly feel free and easy. It’s as though a family of werewolves shed their plainclothes and human bones for a night of unrestrained and joyous howling and feasting.

Somehow the father character manages to convey a message to the main character.

“I need San Diego State to lose by 4.”

“What happened to Western Michigan?”

“Fuckers blew it.”

The mother character begins shouting orders about what goes in the fridge when whomever gets home first. She gives other orders about things that won’t happen for a week.

The character is saved from a duty when he and his siblings are requested to get in a picture. When they return the father character says, “How about 20 movies that all have talking animal roles. No cartoons.”

“OK,” the main character says.

And then it occurs to the main guy what his Family Christmas Movie is all about; he’s becoming part of his family again. After long periods of time away, he sometimes isn’t included in the everyday familial shenanigans and normal reindeer games. But the week of Christmas has rectified that for the main character. And just like all those characters in all those other movies, he’s very happy to be home for Christmas.

He’s one of his tribe again.

Oh sure, there’s some stuff in this movie about Christmas spirit and love and all that stuff, blah blah blah. But really it’s about being in your tribe, setting aside problems and worries, and remembering to enjoy the little time we have on this planet.

Oh, and never bet on Notre Dame when they’re getting less than 5.

And meatballs.

  1. #1 by greg on January 4, 2016 - 1:14 am

    A Damien Christmas Story. Good read Damo.

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