Friday, December 24, 2010

what you can learn from stories you have never liked

over the past several years, it has become our tradition to give luke the gift of a special family outing for christmas. i'm not sure how it started, really. probably accidentally. but it is meaningful in so many ways to us now. for one thing, it's hard to compete with what awaits luke on our annual christmas pilgrimage to our "homeland," aka syracuse, new york: mountains of snow, all of his grandparents and all their requisite indulgences, dozens of cousins, doting aunts and uncles galore, big black poodles...what more could a boy ask for, really? his same-old, same-old parents--with their limited budget, inability to conjure up snow on demand, and dog-less-and-local-family-less life--can hardly compete. and so, instead of trying, we decided several years ago to invent something new.

we celebrate what we call our "family christmas" in north carolina the day before we pack up the car and head north. luke looks forward to finding out first thing in the morning what the day holds; this year, it was tickets to see the voyage of the dawn treader in 3d, followed by dinner out at an italian restaurant. it was, as is always the case with our family christmas outings, a fun time together and a special treat.

the movie choice this year was all sam, though. while luke and sam love the chronicles of narnia (along with the rest of the world, as far as i can tell), i have never been able to get into them. (insert here the collective gasp of most everyone reading this post, for whom the narnia books have either been life-changing or childhood favorites or both or something else ridiculously significant.) i like to read most anything, but fantasy has never been a category i've been able to get into. i'll confess that i have started the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe more than once and have never finished it. if you know me and my ocd-ish inability to leave a book unfinished, you'll know how significant that is. anyhow, i had no argument with sam's choice: of course, this would be a perfect choice for luke. and i'd be glad to tag along despite my shameful lack of knowledge of narnia.

anyhow, that's an unnecessary amount of rambling to get to the point. the movie was great fun, although my boys tell me that it departed from the book in lots of really significant ways. for my part, i'm almost convinced to pick the books up again and give them another try. although i'm not all that good at entering into the fantasy, the allegory intrigues me enough that i think i'll give it go. but all this background is to lead up to this, perhaps my favorite line from the movie (which luke and sam tell me is not from the book, unfortunately): "i spent too long wanting what was taken from me and not what was given." it's king caspian who says this, and it doesn't really matter why, not insofar as this blogpost is concerned, anyhow. but the line was striking to me in many ways.

i won't go into all of them here, but suffice it to say that sam and i spend (and have spent recently) a significant amount of time wanting what was taken from us. but how much do we focus on what is given to us? i think of luke and my recent ramblings about my wishes for my mothering of him; of anastasia and her busy life inside me, soon to be outside; of my family and friends; of my work and the people i am privileged to serve and serve with there...i could go on and on. caspian goes on to say that he has been given people and that's what he must focus on as their king. similarly, i have been given people whom i am meant to serve--my family, my community--and i cannot be so wrapped up in wanting what i have lost that i fail to focus on what i have been given to do.

caspian won't forget his father, of course, nor do i plan to forget wishing eliza were still here. but the line stuck with me, is all, and made me eager to adjust my focus, at least sometimes. what amazing gifts and callings i have been given, and i'm glad for the reminder not to lose sight of them.

(and now that christmas eve has nearly become christmas morning, i'll quote another favorite movie line, this from forrest gump: "and that's all i have to say about that." at least for tonight.)

1 comment:

Hanna said...

I'm glad to read that there is at least one other person besides me in this universe who is at odds with fantasy literature. And I, too, am living with a husband who is loving such stuff. We have cedar trunks full of fantasy paperbacks in our house. At least I was able to negotiate to get them off the shelves to make room for more useful books, but I was unsuccessful in persuading him to donate them to the library or goodwill.....