I wish I had been blessed with a great memory. My dad had one – there was hope, but my brother inherited that. My husband has one. He has friends call him and ask him the most mundane thing because they know he will know the answer. In a world of Google and Alexa, there still exist a few old school folks who actually speak to another person to get the answer they are looking for. Amazing.
My memories are more like the kind Barbara Streisand sang about in The Way We Were, “Misty water-colored memories…” The role of White Christmas in my life is encapsulated in an ethereal fog with only a few details moving to the surface long enough to be captured in my mind’s eye. The eye of a child.
In The Beginning
We lived in Las Vegas. My dad, a bartender at one of the big hotels, always worked nights so my brother and I were at home with mom. Is it strange that I don’t remember our Christmas trees, gifts or any of the other trappings of Christmas, but I do have this vague recollection of a dark room, sitting on the floor and watching White Christmas.
I don’t know when this tradition began exactly, but it had to have been around 1964; ten years after the release of the movie so it was airing on television. Before cable, Betamax, VCRs, DVDs, DVRs, or On Demand, we had to wait…anticipate…and then relish that moment each year when our favorite thing came on television. It was yet another part of the magical innocence of that time. Waiting was a part of life and the rewards were so sweet.
The Value of Magic
White Christmas isn’t a child’s movie per-say; however, it does capture the beauty and magic of the season. It is a musical in the classic, old Hollywood sense and the story line isn’t edgy nor does it have a surprise ending. But what it does offer is love, laughter, and examples of sacrifice and the value of putting someone else’s needs ahead of our own. Those, are timeless messages, and also very much a part of the message of Christmas.
Last night my husband and I attended a Fathom Events screening of White Christmas on the big screen at our local theater. This is the second time we have seen a classic movie like this and I have to tell you it has spoiled me. First, there is nothing…and I mean nothing…like seeing a movie in the format it was intended to be seen. Secondly, the phrase “they don’t make them like that anymore” has never been more true. There are no movies like classic movies. But that is a conversation for another day. Back to the magic of White Christmas.
Sitting in the dark theater, eating popcorn I was, for two hours, a little girl again, drinking in the colors, the story, the music, and the experience. As an adult I was able to notice things I had never noticed in any of the previous viewings of this movie – the amazing blue of Bing Crosby’s eyes; Vera Ellen’s ridiculously small waist and the fact that when she moved her torso was completely and unnaturally stiff (I’m assuming major undergarments were involved), but when she danced it was a thing of beauty; a tear running down Rosemary Clooney’s cheek when she thought Bing Crosby was a no good, money grubbing scoundrel; Danny Kaye’s facial expressions, and the details of their shoes, clothing, and the colors…those colors literally flew off the screen.
In this scene, the Choreography rehearsal, the purple, fuchsia, and royal blue were all set against a chartreuse backdrop that was so vivid and bright I almost needed sunglasses.
There were only about twenty of us in the theater on this Wednesday evening in December. A family behind us included two young adult children who laughed as much as I did at the obvious and not so obvious humor. This alone was worth the trip. I need to do a better job of introducing my granddaughters to the joy of classic movies, as well as other things I love. After all, if not me then who? This should be a family experience that builds memories. Misty water-colored memories of their very own.