Donalyn Miller asked on Facebook this morning, what was our favorite holiday movie? I have so many that I love – Christmas Vacation, Love Actually, A Christmas Story, The Snowman (based on Raymond Briggs picture book), and more. There is one, however, that rises to the top.
On December 3, 1978 Christmas Eve on Sesame Street was first aired. I have a feeling I didn’t see it that year, my baby brother was a month old, I was four. But I know I saw it almost every year after that (and might have seen it that year, who knows.) It became tradition in our house to watch it whenever PBS decided to air it. As an adult, I bought the VHS tape and was in heaven. I could watch it whenever I wanted. Then, sadness, we got rid of our video player. Luckily I came upon the DVD and quickly snatched it up.
So now I share it with my own children. Every year on Thanksgiving we have our first viewing. Since I am a person built on tradition, we also have Cream of Broccoli soup too – another memory from childhood and, I swear to you, the best soup in the entire world. My boys groan but then watch it with me. It is perfection.
This year I was scanning the house for The Polar Express DVD to take to school on Friday. I had promised my students we could watch a movie. When I couldn’t find it, I grabbed Christmas Eve on Sesame Street. Jumping in the car Luke, my fourth grade age son, looked at me and raised his eyebrows. I asked what he meant and he replied something to the effect that fifth graders are not going to love that movie. I told him I’m sure they would.
When I told my students I brought a movie I began to explain the importance of this movie to me. I then explained the history of it, why I loved it, and how I hope they would know a little more about me after seeing my favorite movie. They all gathered in our library to watch it. The movie begins with a skating scene and the song “Feliz Navidad”. Quietly, a few kids at first, then more kids, began singing along. By the end of the movie they cheered. I’m not sure if they loved it as much as I did, or just wanted me to feel ok about sharing it, but I’m glad I brought it in.
What I can’t explain to them, or to my own children, is that to me this movie is more than a movie. Like my favorite books, it has memories wrapped into it. When I watch it I see the movie, but also remember being a little kid. I remember growing up watching this, the excitement of waiting for Santa, the anticipation of what gifts I would get. I remember my parents when they were my age, my siblings as the kids they were then. This movie represents my childhood and all that was magical about it. It is one of my favorite traditions.