Here, buried under snow at the old homestead, Mom, Mr. and Miss J, and I revisited a family Christmas classic together on the sofa...it was all very Better Homes and Gardens...if Better Homes and Gardens ever showed a family with grown up children, one of them gay, and a single mother. Wait? They did? Show's how out of the loop I am. Anyway, the film we watched was Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas, which began its life as a short story and then was made into a HBO Christmas special in 1977. Its a very touching tale, lovingly rendered on celluloid by Jim Henson and his puppeteers and given musical life with songs by Paul Williams. It tells the story of river folk, specifically Emmet Otter and his Ma, who are trying to give themselves a nice Christmas despite being poor. We used to watch it all the time when Miss J and I were kids, and now that its on DVD, we watch it every year...because our old Christmas tape has vanished in the shuffle.
One thing that's really great about this film is its focus on the relationship between mother and son, and how they use music to get them through their dreary, dead end lives in high spirits. They use this musical talent to try to win a contest, and both have to sacrifice something in order to enter (in a very "The Gift of the Magi" kind of way) and it makes for a very surprising ending. Who will win? Will they get the money for Christmas? What's really nice about this special is that it focuses less on making sure everything works out for the best and instead examines how to make the best out of any given situation...something that we don't do that well in our daily lives. I know I don't...I always mope about how things didn't go my way, rather than trying to figure out how I can make something better. My only regret about this film is that there isn't a CD available so that I can keep listening to Paul Williams' music. Thank god for my Bugsy Malone album.