Scott D. Parker
I had an interesting thing happened to me this week. The new movie trailer for the film “The Hobbit” debuted. Excitedly, I watched the preview, and, for some reason, I was underwhelmed. It got me to worrying. Have I reached a certain age in my life or my sense of wonder has left me?
Eleven years ago when the first trailer for Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings landed on the internet, I could not contain my excitement or enthusiasm. Then, in December of 2001,The Fellowship of the Ring debuted and was such a gorgeous adaptation that it, frankly, exceeded my expectations. Moreover, coming as it did a mere three months after September 11, the movie took on a sort of reverential place in my consciousness. At the time, I had been a new father for only two months, so this film hit me on multiple levels. Finally, that it came out during the Christmas season, this film felt a part of the season. For three wonderful Christmases, the three films fused with the holiday.
So what to make of my somewhat tepid reaction to the new trailer? It's going to be released Christmas time in 2012 and, thankfully, not a summer blockbuster. I polled the members of my science fiction book club. One of them was happy to see that basically nothing had changed, that the new film is going to look exactly like the first three films even if The Hobbit was a prequel. Another member of the club tried to quantify my thoughts. Here is an excerpt of what he had to say:
Maybe we're reaching a saturation point at which something has to be more extraordinary to fire our neurons and release those endorphins. Is that cynicism? Maybe.
Maybe it's the equivalent of a palate change, like when you switch from drinking sweet white wines to dark, tannic reds. When 60% cacao just isn't enough.
We're all at the age that, to me, signals both a refining of what we like as well as having enough life experience to know that trying new things won't hurt us. We're more picky, while in the same breath looking for something that broadens our experience and gives it fresh perspective.
Unfortunately, it may only get more difficult. But that's why I like our book club and that's why I'll risk a potential movie letdown now and then. I don't think there will be anything much better in the film than what I've cultivated from my dozen or more reads of The Hobbit. But I would love Jackson to prove me wrong!
How does this relate to Christmas, you ask? Well, even though I grow older, I am never as young as I am in December of each year, and Christmas is the one thing that never truly diminishes. I watch the same specials (and the new ones) and still laugh at the same things (the Peanuts gang dancing; the Grinch making his costume; Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci getting smacked around among others). When December rolls around, I roll back in years, but I am always aware of where I am.
I am an adult, obviously, so some of the magic of the time is gone (for I am one of the magicians). Yes, there are times in this past month (and just about every December) when melancholy seeps into me as I remember Christmases past. It's during these times when I break out "Where are you Christmas?" (Faith Hill), "River," (Robert Downey), "Somewhere in My Memory" (Home Alone soundtrack), and "2000 miles" (Coldplay). While it may be easy to slip into remorse and depression, I never do. Those past yuletide festivities are a part of me and have made me who I am.
In 1851, Charles Dickens wrote an essay titled "What Christmas Is As We Grow Older," and a favorite passage is this:
Therefore, as we grow older, let us be more thankful that the circle of our Christmas associations and of the lessons they bring, expands! Let us welcome everyone of them, and summoned them to take their places by the Christmas hearth.
All my life experiences, all my past Christmases, belong on the hearth of my memory. Too often, I think we adults try so hard to have or create the "perfect" Christmas that we forget to just live with the season. It only comes once a year and it's best--even when faced with mall crowds, traffic, sold out gifts, and parties that didn't go off exactly as we wanted them to--that there is still magic in the air. We just have to realize that, sometimes, that magic needs a little kindling to spark again. Once it does, even if it's for a brief time in a year, it's great to sit back, watch the fire in our own personal hearths, and just enjoy and be thankful for all that we have, including the memories of past Christmases.
I want thank all of y'all for another great year writing for Do Some Damage. I appreciate all my fellow writers and I am thankful for you, the readers of this blog. Without y'all, we're just spouting text into the ether. Without you, this little experiment would be a monologue (x8) rather than a dialogue. And it's in dialogue that we learn from each other.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.