Friday, December 10, 2010

Yes, Eloise, there is a Santa Claus

I have always thought it interesting that many family movies about Christmas depict adults as not believing in Santa Claus causing the little ones watching to worry if Santa is real until somewhere near the end when he reveals himself and the magic of Christmas wins out. So I was surprised to see a different type of grown-up while watching the DVD of Me Eloise: Little miss Christmas with my daughter.

**Spoiler Alert, if you don't want the movie ruined, stop reading (although I am certain the majority of people who would truly care are too young to read anyway)**

For those who don't know, Eloise is the 6 year old protagonist of many books written by Kay Thompson (later adapted to animated movies and the television show Me Eloise) who gets into a lot of mischief but always with the best of intentions. She is rumored to have been loosely modeled after Kay's god-daughter Liza Minelli, but no one knows for sure.

In this Christmas special (from the tv series, not to be confused with Eloise at Christmastime) Eloise wants to put on a special Christmas Eve show with her friends in the plaza Hotel where she lives. She writes a letter and her only wish for this Christmas is that Santa will come and be a part of her show. When her nanny finds out that Santa is Eloise's surprise guest she tells Eloise that she can't expect Santa to come be in her show on Christmas Eve when he is so busy delivering toys to all the children in the world.

This response seemed typical of what you would see from adults in most Christmas specials. It appears she is trying to steer the child away from certain heart break when Santa, who in her mind doesn't really exist, doesn't show up. My first impression is wrong as this is where things take a turn. Later we see nanny talking to Bill, a room service waiter in the hotel who is prone to performing in the hotel restaurant and is helping Eloise with her show.

The conversation goes something like this:
Nanny: I need to talk to you about the children's show
Bill: It is going great
Nanny: I am worried because Eloise and the other Children have their heart set on Santa being there
Bill: But Santa is very busy, it is Christmas Eve
Nanny: I tried to tell her but her heart is set on it, I thought maybe you could help
Bill: I can't be Santa
Nanny: Of course not, but you could pretend to be Santa

This is not verbatim of course but you get the general idea. What impressed me was here you see two adults, talking alone about how busy Santa is and how bill is going to dress up and pretend to be Santa because surely the real Santa will be too busy to come himself.

I loved seeing two adults who clearly believe Santa exists. I felt this captured a childlike imagination. It took the magic of Christmas and said this is something grown-ups can believe in too. I liked that my daughter was seeing this exchange and I liked watching her become worried, not that Santa may not be real, but that he would be too busy. You see little elements of this throughout the film, one of my favorite moments is when the Hotel inspector (throughout the movie the Hotel owner was sweating his arrival and actually makes the kids cancel their show at one point for fear of upsetting the inspector) gets so excited about the Holiday show and Christmas cookies and asks Santa if their is a present for him.

I am a fan of Santa and childhood imagination. I let my kids believe whatever they want to believe and embrace the world of magic and imagination. I don't condemn parents who don't, or who choose to teach their kids otherwise but personally I was pleased to see a movie that fully embraced that the magic of Christmas can be for the grownups too.

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