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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Harry Potter, Plans and a Wonderful Life...

Disruptive Little Sucker!...
I don't know if I've ever mentioned it but, unlike the famous Broadway song, I'm not wild about Harry (Potter that is!). 

After doing some reading on the books early into the series, I didn't want my older daughter to watch the movies when they were popular and I'm still not a fan of them today.

Without getting into specifics, and I'll admit I only started reading the first book, suffice to say that I'm against what Harry Potter represents; a pop culture phenomenon targeting kids, which intertwines black magic with good wholesome family values, which some, including author Michael D. O'Brien, of the Father Elijah series, have referred to as, "A cancer wrapped around a healthy organ that no surgery to remove is possible."

However, this is not about Harry Potter, it's about how he ruined my post-Thanksgiving plans!

For the past several years, my family and I have watched, It's a Wonderful Life, as a way of kicking off the Advent and Christmas season, usually on Thanksgiving weekend. 

One of my favorite movies...
If you have never seen the 1946 classic, which is played regularly on TV during the holidays (In other words, where have you been?), it's a beautiful and inspiring film, ironically about how life sometimes gets in the way of best laid plans but, if we stop and smell the roses, as the saying goes, things usually turn out better than we may think.

Therefore, I excitedly announced several days prior, that we would watch the movie on Black Friday this year, which to my chagrin, was received with lukewarm interest at best!  In fact, my younger daughter blurted out, "Oh, no!"  (And here I thought we all loved the movie!), which wasn't enough to deter or damper my enthusiasm (although, that was soon to come!).

So, on D-Day, after running a few errands and getting home to relax (and settle down to watch the film, in my mind), I noticed that my wife and children quickly huddled into bed in my room and to add insult to injury, instead of watching the Jimmy Stewart classic, they started watching Harry Potter!  Say, what?   Oh, no they di'int...  Oh, yes they did! 

I felt like Matt Songer, the package delivery guy in the Feed the Pig radio commercial, who after being told he inherited $32 million dollars and starts to celebrate, is then told that it was just a joke!  Nice.  Thank you, Harry!

Yes, I was hurt and, maybe, sulked a bit.  Wouldn't you?  I felt rejected, disrespected and, in all honesty, betrayed in my own household (Nothing like a little melodrama and hurt pride to kick off the holiday season, I say!).  Moreover, it was my wife who was leading the parade!

Come to think of it, maybe, that's why I like, Wonderful Life, so much.  It was during a time in America when men wore the pants in the family instead of wearing shorts, like me!  (You can play the violin music here...)

I got bitter and stewed in my own self-pity.  Like a jilted lover, I refused to partake in their fun. 

Things were looking good...
Instead, I went to the couch and watched Million Dollar Baby.  Yes, it's a depressing movie, which only added to my somber mood, but let's not go there, since the dilemma in the film, specifically the portrayal of the priest's character, who basically pointed a finger at Clint Eastwood instead of going to console and give Hilary Swank some hope to live, really ticked me off! 

But, can you blame me for sulking?

It put a damper on the whole weekend and in all sincerity, on the beginning of Advent as well.  Thanks a lot, Harry! 

It wasn't until my brother, who was visiting from out of town, and his girlfriend came over to trim the Christmas tree with us several days later (and a couple of bottles of wine) that we finally put the conflict behind and started enjoying the spirit of the season.

As I reflected on the episode in front of the Blessed Sacrament later that week, I couldn't help but think of how easily disruption (aka evil) can creep into a family, often in the most minute, inopportune and subtle way.  One minute, everything is going good and everybody is happy and the next, there was Harry, hurt feelings, ego and bitterness.

It made me sincerely thankful to God for being part of our life. 

That bitterness could have easily festered.  Things could have easily degenerated and gone from a Merry Christmas to a miserable one in the wake of misunderstanding, selfishness and neglect (Which sadly happens in far too many families across America today).

Hence, despite the short interruption by the unruly broom-flying wizard in our house, and not ever watching It's a Wonderful Life with the entire family (I watched it with my older daughter several weeks later), reminiscent to the movie, my plans may not have gone accordingly but, in the end, I know I am truly blessed.   

There were no unexpected deaths or crippling blows to get in the way of dreams, like in Wonderful Life and Million Dollar Baby, and, more importantly, I have the faith, love and family to give me the hope that I can get through them, if they ever do.  So, with or without the family movie night to kickoff the Advent season, it was a fantastic Christmas season because we really have a wonderful life!...


Lisa Jones, GRI said...

Loved that! It isn't Christmas for me without watching its a Wonderful Life either....LOL. I understand that reality can really mess with our expectations, even at Christmas. One of my favorite sayings is if you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans.

Carlos Espinosa said...

Thank you, Lisa.

You're absolutely right. As John Steinbeck wrote in his classic novel, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

God bless...

James Milliken said...

Thank you Carlos! We also have a tradition of watching It's a Wonderful Life at Christmas time, it's one of my favorites, too. Another favorite is the version of A Christmas Carol starring Alistair Sim as Scrooge, (see my post "A Christmas Hobbit God Bless you and your family!
-James Milliken

Carlos Espinosa said...

Thank you for the nice words and for sharing your blog with me. It looks like we write along the same lines; faith and family.
God bless and keep blogging!...

Elena LaVictoire said...

I Love It's a Wonderful Life!

I also love the Harry Potter books - in fact they are chock full of Christian - dare I say, CATHOLIC ideas and values.

That said, I'm not as big a fan of the movies. If you ever decide to give them a try, go with the audio books narrated by Jim Dale. They are really the best way to experience Potter in my opinion,

Carlos Espinosa said...

Thank you so much Elena.

I guess there is good and bad in everything and we just have to be careful about what our kids ingest.

I'll admit I have been heavily influenced by a 3-CD set by former New Age/Black Magic practitioner turned Catholic speaker, Matthew Arnold, who discusses all the subliminal dangerous messages in the Potter book series.

I guess it goes over most kids' heads but I'm just afraid that the sublime could affect the way my kids look at life.

In any case, parenting these days, I'm sure you would agree, is definitely not easy!

God bless and thanks for the comment...