Saturday, December 15, 2007

X-mas Stories

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I love the atmosphere of it, and I’m not talking of the weather and the temperature. It seems you can feel everything is different when it’s Christmas. I simply like everything about Christmas. The holiday. The merrymaking. The gift giving (kids like me can’t wait for the mullah… and those younger for the toys). The jubilance. The carols and songs. The religious significance (some kept on pointing out that Christmas is not really the date of Christ’s birth, and that it has paganism in it… sure, I know of the pagan symbols and connotations in Christmas… but the best argument is, let the pagans use the holiday and symbols for their purpose, but let the Christians use Christmas for God’s glory and for goodness, and it does not matter if December 25 is not the exact date of Christ’s birth; we are celebrating the birth of Christ anyway and not the date! The date is insignificant, the birth and the meaning of it are the things important.)
And, of course, I love Christmas stories.

Yes. The Christmas stories. There are a lot of them. From literature and traditions to TV specials and movies.

TV series and cartoons have Christmas specials when it is the holiday season – and those episodes are classics. Like the Hanna-Barbera cartoon Christmas special where all the Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters are together; and the Archie’s Weird Mysteries episode of the Christmas Phantom, who was actually Santa Claus himself, granting Archie’s wish for Christmas. I like to watch such Christmas specials, especially marathons, on TV. They are among the most entertaining shows ever. You get to see episodes that are very different from regular episodes. One example is the Christmas episode of Mr. Bean (the live version, not the cartoons); it was one of the best in the series.

During Christmas season, Christmas cartoons are aired on TV. I found three channels that did this effectively in my childhood. One was HBO, (not only did HBO rock when it comes to cartoons like Spawn and Sin City, but also of its Christmas toons) with cartoons like “Rudolph’s Shining Christmas”, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, and “Frosty the Snowman”. In the local networks, GMA did okay. I enjoyed their airing of several Christmas cartoons every afternoon, and of the cartoon series “Claus”, a cartoon series of a boy Santa Claus. Disney Channel is the third; not only did they air Christmas episodes of their regular set of TV series, but also other Christmas specials and movies.

And how about the movies? Christmas movies had pretty good stories, too. The Home Alone series were all set during the Christmas season, and it showed great Christmas principles as well as the best hilarious (and painful) pranks and booby traps a little boy can do. The Santa Claus movies of Tim Allen were okay, too. And Christmas specials does not only happen to TV shows, but also to movie franchises like “Richie Rich”, “Beauty and the Beast”, and “All Dogs Go to Heaven”; all of them have Christmas movies.

Though, yes, Christmas stories are more effective on TV or movies, let us not forget that it is also present in literature. Since Dickens’ classic “The Christmas Carol”, to Agatha Christie’s “Holiday for Murder”, Christmas has been used an effective theme of a story, or a background even if it is not the main theme. Christmas stories are also in comic books and cartoon strips. “Mickey Mouse and Friends”, “Calvin & Hobbes”, “Peanuts”, “Archie and Friends” and, especially, “B.C.”, are among the many that had created great stories by using Christmas as theme or tool… we find Uncle Scrooge McDuck, unbeknownst to him, treating the entire Duck clan for Christmas; Calvin’s father sacrificing his work so that he can spend time with his son to make a snowman (very Christmas spirit); Charlie Brown’s sister Sally mistaking “reindeer” for “rain gear”, as one of Santa’s trademarks; Archie collecting rare photos of things that can only happen in Christmas, missing a genuine shot of Santa Claus, but getting a shot of Jughead kissing Ethel, a thing that can only happen once in a lifetime; and B.C. and friends, with stories about the true meaning of Christmas, authored by the B.C.’s Christian cartoonist, Johnny Hart… the list goes on a long way of classic stories like these. Even superhero comics and mangas (even anime series have great Christmas episodes), like Yu Yu Hakushu, have great Christmas issues when it is the season.

“Christmas” should be an established genre in fiction. Good is present in the story if Christmas is used – even if it used just as a setting, a tool or a background. Great conflicts, plots and entertainment arise from a story with Christmas in it. Not only are Christmas stories entertaining, but also heartwarming and full of lessons to be learned. Christmas stories create fascinating characters like “Ebenezer Scrooge” to “The Grinch”. In regular continuity of stories, Christmas episodes or issues stray from the regular flow of the story sometimes, but it becomes a classic nonetheless. Like when Yusuke helped a stray spirit, and when psycho vigilante Batman shows compassion and emotion. And it creates unexpected but refreshing twists like in the “Archie’s Weird Mysteries” Christmas episode.
Yes, Christmas stories are certainly among the best stories in the world.

* * *

Christmas stories are special, entertaining and good. But maybe it is so because of the meaning – the true meaning – of Christmas, and the true story behind it all. Though there are a lot of good Christmas stories around, we should not forget the number one Christmas story ever. A true story of the Savior who was born in a manger a long time ago. The world has never been the same since then.

Merry Christmas, everybody.

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