You won't believe this, but I just wrote a fantastic post about Christmas miracles and the importance of family and all that rot while tying it to Miracle on 34th Street. It's also one of the rare posts I wrote on my iPad because I couldn't get my laptop to work...well in trying to publish it and share some videos to it, it erased. Nothing I wrote, as lovely as it was, was saved and there's no way to recapture it. I'll admit, at first I just wanted to pout and say "insert curse here this!", but then I decided that that attitude would fly in the face of everything I just wrote. How could I talk about the importance of Christmas and little miracles (especially when so many have so little to be happy about) if I let one stupid cock up ruin my good will? So, a little Christmas miracle just occurred and here I am...again writing this post...because I believe that it matters. I have faith, and isn't that what this film is about? So let's all enjoy some holiday cheer as we experience Miracle on 34th Street.
Kris Kringle is indignant to find that the person assigned to play Santa in the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (Percy Helton) is intoxicated. When he complains to event director Doris Walker (Maureen O'Hara), she persuades Kris to take his place. He does such a fine job that he is hired as the Santa for Macy's flagship New York City store on 34th Street. Ignoring instructions to steer parents to buy from Macy's, Kris directs one shopper (Thelma Ritter) to another store. She is so impressed, she tells Julian Shellhammer (Philip Tonge), head of the toy department, that she will become a loyal customer. Kris later informs another mother that arch-rival Gimbel's has better skates. Fred Gailey (John Payne), Doris's attorney neighbor, takes the young divorcee's second grade daughter Susan (Natalie Wood) to see Kris. Doris has raised her to not believe in fairy tales, but her lack of faith is shaken when she sees Kris conversing in Dutch with an adopted girl who does not know English. Doris asks Kris to tell Susan that he is not really Santa Claus, but Kris insists he is. Kris then makes it his personal mission to convince Doris and Susan that he really is Santa Claus by making their Christmas wishes come true.
There's something timeless about this film and I think that is part of why it endures, because as long as we live there will be children and adults who doubt the existence of Santa Claus. One of the things I love the most about the film is that it never says one way or another whether Kris is or isn't Santa. Sure there are a lot of moments where Kris does something that seems magical, but at the end there is nothing to prove that he is anything more than a very talented old man. However we, like the characters in the story, choose to believe in him because we have faith. Faith is the most important part of the human capacity for belief and it is the one thing I think we all need to hold on to during the holidays, what with the endless to-do lists and the assurance that if we don't do this or that somehow it will ruin Christmas. We must have faith that everything will work out...especially those of us who are in much worse places this Christmas. With the recent tragedies still fresh in our minds and the knowledge that there are many people who aren't as well off as the rest of us, we need our faith to tell us that everything will be ok. Miracle on 34th Street is about all of that and more. If you can find the time this year, please watch this with your families. It really is one of the very best.
(Forgive the lack of trailer today: the iPad just won't cooperate)