Son of a nutcracker, do I love the movie Elf. Watching it with my family last night for the umpteenth time, I realized why this has become my second favorite Christmas movie (after It’s a Wonderful Life, of course):
Buddy the Elf has a passion for life that I want. He is full throttle in a world that is used to idling, and it’s contagious.
[Side note: if you have yet to see this movie, you need to. Not only will it make you smile, but this post might make more sense!]
Buddy is excited and curious and wonderfully open in a very jaded, guarded world. Every day is an adventure that he just can’t wait to begin.
His over-the-top enthusiasm is on full display in the mailroom scene, where he is talking to the ex-con who is adding “syrup” to his coffee. Before long, he is having a tickle fight with the guy and Russian dancing on the tabletop. Even former inmates melt with the zest that Buddy brings to life. (Yes, I’m sure the coffee-spiking helped smooth the rough edges, too, but I doubt there would be table dancing in the absence of our exuberant elf).
Elf’s childlike qualities don’t mean he is one-dimensional, though. His life hasn’t been one big success after another. He has been an oddball since he was a child—and then he gets sprung from one world where he doesn’t quite fit right into another. And without getting too ridiculously analytical about a lighthearted Christmas movie, he also has to face the fact that the world and father he thought he knew aren’t really his—and leave to face rejection from his “real” dad. Not exactly a walk in the park—in fact, walks in the park with Buddy can result in getting mauled by an angry raccoon who is simply not interested in hugging it out.
He could have let the world beat him down and lose his joy, but Buddy’s spirit is indomitable. Whether he’s having a blast discovering a revolving door or trying to put the angel on top of the Christmas tree, Buddy is all in.
And couldn’t we all stand to be a bit more like that? I know I could. What’s wrong with singing loud for all to hear or putting “snuggle” on your ToDo list? Not one darn thing.
Buddy’s enthusiasm and openness offers hope in a cynical world of disbelief. And, thankfully, that goodness has a ripple effect on those around him. The good guys win this round. Santa’s sleigh gets the lift it needs, and everyone is a little better off for taking a few notes from a big green and yellow tights-wearing elf who likes to put maple syrup on his spaghetti.
Yes, I know it is not as simple as that. After all, it IS a movie. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t remind ourselves that there is beauty in the unaffected approach to life. That looking at the world with fresh eyes helps us to see things that we otherwise would have missed with our world-weary blinders on.
And what better time to remember this than the Christmas season, where there is so much magic to enjoy and embrace?
So go find an escalator to explore or a snowball fight to engage in or someone to hug…The clock is ticking, and there’s a wide world out there with plenty of cotton balls for you to eat.