When I was a kid, the quintessential holiday movie was It’s a Wonderful Life. That, or that weird Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer stop-animation thingie with the electric razor-riding Santa. I never could figure out what Norelco had to do with anything, but I was busy being freaked out by the Abominable Snow Monster.
These days, it seems, everybody’s watching Love, Actually, a 2003 Christmas bon bon at once sweet, tender, joyful and heart-breaking. Guys, if you want your woman to go all misty-eyed, kiss on you lots and fall in love with you all over again, you will sit down with her and watch this movie. Trust me.
The movie follows the story arc of several different characters: an aging (and fading) rock star trying to stage a comeback with what might be the cheesiest song ever (he himself refers to it as a “turd”); a recent divorcé falling for a woman whose language he doesn’t even speak; a couple teetering on the edge of a break-up; unrequited love; a woman struggling to balance being a caregiver for her brother with finding romance; a young boy swept up in his first love; and, what the heck, the Prime Minister of England improbably but charmingly played by Hugh Grant.
If you haven’t seen the movie, I won’t spoil it for you by hinting at the endings except to say that everyone winds up with what they chose. Even if it isn’t always what the audience might have hoped for them.
Now, if you haven’t watched the video, above, do so now, because here’s where I make my point. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Ready? All those people in the audience, did you see the look of astonishment, joy and delight on their faces? Some of those people are going to wind up happily ever after by the end of the movie. Some of them will not. But all of them recognize something special when they see it, and all of them are experiencing total delight in that moment. All of them see true magic: a young girl totally in love with herself and her music.
“All I want for Christmas is you,” she sings, and yes, there’s a particular someone she points to. But notice she goes on to level that finger all around the audience. “And you,” she belts, “And you. And you and you and you and you and you.”
No, this doesn’t mean she’s a budding swinger.
She wants everyone. She wants everything. But most of all, what she wants is exactly what she has: her own rock-solid, awesome self, engaged in the act of doing something that fills her entire soul with joy and, in doing so, lights up the world around her. Because when it comes right down to it, the only person we will ever have for our “very own” is ourselves, and the best thing we have to give is our own unique juice with which to light up our corner of the world.
This holiday season, I hope you get the things on your list, if that’s what you want. But I hope for something even bigger for you. I hope you find your way to YOU. Somewhere inside you is a big and joyful voice, a one-of-a-kind sway to the music, and an energy only you have to offer. The world needs you. You need you, too.
So whether you’re spending the holidays in traditional fashion surrounded by friends and family, or whether you find yourself in unexpected or unfamiliar circumstances or surroundings, take a moment to stop, to breathe, and to take measure of what abides within and without.
“If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.” ~ Hugh Grant