Twenty-Five Days of Feelings: Day Twenty-Three

This year I’m undergoing a bit of an experiment: Thirty straight days of doing/watching/listening to/reading something that makes me feel – however fleetingly – like an actual human being, in the hopes that this will thaw a layer of ice off my frozen shriveled little heart, and allow me to not be such a buzzkill this year. So let’s get to it.

Day Twenty-Three: Friday Night Lights

I guess it was kind of inevitable, huh? I mean, only a few days ago I was talking about the soundtrack, and now here I am to talk about the show. I fought for so long against Friday Night Lights y’all. I really did. So many people told me I’d love it, even though I don’t really care for sports movies. Some of them assumed I hated football itself because I only went to like six games in five seasons of college. [Sidebar: I had a roommate once come in and catch me watching ESPN and you would have thought it was porn the way he was freaking out. Seriously, he was yelling and getting shrill and saying things like “You CAN’T like football! What are you doing?!?” It was really bizarre]

Anyway, there’s only so much Netflix, am I right? And I thought I was scraping the bottom of the barrel with FNL, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. What I found was the television “Little Engine That Could.” It was essentially cancelled after the second season, but thanks to a vocal and passionate fan-base a deal was made with DirecTV that allowed it to continue for three more seasons.

Now, I’ve only just finished the third season, and will probably take a break, what with it being Christmas tomorrow and doing some travelling, and having a ton of end-of-year blogging to do (assuming I ever finish this God-forsaken blog series labor of love), but I will say that it has already more than earned all the praise I heard about it.

Being a suburban kid, I don’t quite relate to the small-town dynamic going on, but I think I understand it. See, in my town, there’s an Old Town. The kids who go to that high school have grandparents who went there. Kids like bale hay during the summers. There’s a Rice Harvest Festival every fall. And football there is a LOT like in Dillon, TX (the town from the show). I’ve met people exactly like Mr. Garrity, who ignore their wives while worshipping football, praying to God for wins as if He really cares about the score. [Sidebar: I’m not saying God doesn’t care about sports, I’m saying He probably cares more about how you conduct yourself before, during and after the game, and that you use it to bring Him glory somehow] I’ve seen athletic departments that get shiny new gear every year while teachers get cut. I get Dillon.

Only being a substitute teacher (right now), I don’t quite relate to the struggles of Connie Britton’s character Tami. I don’t yet know what it’s like to deal with kids who want to get into college but are weighed down by their white-trash roots (other than my cousins that is). I don’t know what it’s like to see racially-charged fights erupt in your school and try to create dialogue. I don’t know the first thing about taking a special interest in a couple kids and motivating them to turn their lives around and forge a new future for themselves. But I want to.

Being me, I don’t quite relate to breaking my back in the first game of the season, or watching my parents get divorced, or being raised by a semi-alcoholic brother, or a grandma with dementia. And I am so grateful for that. But I don’t have to have experienced any of that, because these fantastic writers, directors, and actors bring crazy awful things like that to life. I feel how trapped Tyra (Adrianne Palicki) feels, surrounded by her stripper sister and co-dependent doormat mother. I feel how lost Tim (Taylor Kitsch) feels, abandoned by both parents, afraid of failure and even more of success. I feel how shattered Lyla (Minka Kelly) feels after her future is destroyed by one injury and her family collapses. I acutely feel the teenage loneliness of Landry (Jesse Plemons) who is smart but awkward. And so on. Every character has their issue, and you can’t help but pity them, hope for them and with them, and get invested in their futures.

The real standouts of course are Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton as Coach and Tami Taylor. They have, hands down, the best relationship I’ve ever seen on television. Sometimes they snipe at each other, but they always end with a quick kiss and an “I love you.” Sometimes they fight and yell, and someone has to cool down or sleep on the couch. But they always talk it out like calm, rational adults who listen to each other. Sometimes they have to wear a lot of different hats – such as Wife, Teacher, and Friend – but they stay consistent to who they are. They dance together, and say things like “I like you. I respect you. I’m proud of you.” They get excited about stealing hotel robes. They argue with their daughter. The Taylors are just so real. Flawed, yes, but deeply good people who love each other more than anything and become a foundation for a whole town. I feel like I’ve legitimately learned things about marriage by watching them, if that doesn’t sound too weird.

Other than that, the show is fantastically shot. There’s a documentary style to it, which would be really annoying if they ever looked at or talked to the camera. Luckily, they don’t and it feels more like Battlestar Galactica than The Office. When there isn’t shaky-cam and quick-zoom though, there are wide, sweeping shots of stadiums, towns, cities, and schools. It goes back and forth from intimate and personal to epic and grande really easily. As does the music, which I’ve already discussed.

Obviously, there’s a misstep here and there. There’s a plot-line in Season 2 between Tyra and Landry that feels more One Tree Hill than anything else, but it’s done a lot better. Cast cuts and episode reductions make some story lines feel a little rushed, or largely resolved over the time-skips. But overall it handles every curve ball it’s thrown with grace and poise and comes back stronger.

At the end of the day, this is a show about good people, and good people getting what good people deserve: good things. It may not always be their ultimate dream. It may be smaller than they wanted, or maybe just a little different, or change completely. But it is fun to root for these people, because they are rewarded for doing the right thing and corrected when they don’t.

Bottom line: this is an intelligent, topical, well-executed show with an amazing cast that tells positive stories about interesting people and will keep you coming back for more.

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Twenty-Five Days of Feelings: Day Twenty-Two

This year I’m undergoing a bit of an experiment: Thirty straight days of doing/watching/listening to/reading something that makes me feel – however fleetingly – like an actual human being, in the hopes that this will thaw a layer of ice off my frozen shriveled little heart, and allow me to not be such a buzzkill this year. So let’s get to it.

Day Twenty-Two: Sam Gamgee

After my family went to see The Hobbit last weekend, we got onto kind of a Lord of the Rings kick. And yesterday, as I was making my lunch, I teared up as I heard this exchange going on at the end of The Two Towers:

Frodo: I can’t do this, Sam.
Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.

How beautiful is that? I mean really, read it again. How much does that apply to life? To this messed-up world we live in? Full of darkness and danger, and how can the world go back to the way it was? But even darkness must pass. There is good in this world and it’s worth fighting for.

And at the end of the day, that’s all we can do. Maybe we’re not taking a stand on social injustices, or raising awareness on hate crimes in Africa or something. Maybe all we’re doing is blogging about what makes us happy, or sad, or angry. Maybe we’re taking a beautiful picture each day, or sending a note to someone we love each week, or taking one weekend a month to visit a friend somewhere. Life is long, and hard, and brutal at times, and if we don’t fight to hold onto whatever joy we happen to find, we might go crazy.

So I just challenge you in this new year to find a passion. Something that gets your juices flowing. And pour into it. Invest your time and energy into it. Maybe it’s baking something for the fire department every weekend. Maybe it’s working at a vineyard every other Saturday. Maybe it’s growing heirloom seeds. Or volunteering at an animal shelter, or doing something cultural once a week, or starting a game night with your friends every month. I don’t know what it’ll be for you. Hell I don’t even know what it’ll be for me yet.

But there’s some good in this world y’all. And it’s worth fighting for.

Twenty-Five Days of Feelings: Day Twenty-One

This year I’m undergoing a bit of an experiment: Thirty straight days of doing/watching/listening to/reading something that makes me feel – however fleetingly – like an actual human being, in the hopes that this will thaw a layer of ice off my frozen shriveled little heart, and allow me to not be such a buzzkill this year. So let’s get to it.

Day Twenty-One: Big Fish

Here’s the deal: Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, and I have a complicated relationship. By which I mean “I like Tim Burton movies that don’t have Johnny Depp in them, and I like Johnny Depp movies that don’t involve Tim Burton,” at least generally speaking. There are exceptions – Alice in Wonderland, or the second and third Pirates of the Caribbean movies for example. Basically it means I like Alice, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and James and the Giant Peach. 

And Big Fish.

Big Fish is the story of a father and a son. It’s about death, but also much more about life. It’s about lies, and also about truth. It’s a fairy tale, and it’s also got a deeply human core. It’s really kind of a masterpiece.

Will Bloom (just now getting the importance of that name, sadly), gets a call one day that his father, Edward, is dying, so he goes home to spend time with him. Edward and Will don’t really get along, because Will is tired of all the stories his father has told over the years – stories which Will believes are all lies. He no longer believes that his father has any real truth to him. What ensues is the story of Edward’s life (as he tells it), which involves witches, giants, werewolves, conjoined twins, mermaids, circuses, mysterious Stepford towns, and of course, a really Big Fish.

There are a LOT of things to love about this movie. First of all is the cast. You’ve got Ewan McGregor as young Edward, and he is just about as charming as possible, whether it’s befriending everyone he meets, working at a circus just to learn a new fact about the love of his life each month, or fighting wars. Albert Finney plays old Edward, and he does a great job of bringing the myth into reality. We see young Edward in him, but also the weight of age and sickness. Marion Cotillard plays Will’s wife, who is curious, somewhat innocent, and willing to push Will. Billy Crudup plays Will, and he does a really great job conveying the bitterness you can take into adulthood when you have a parent you resent. Danny DeVito, Helena Bonham Carter, and Steve Buscemi also do fantastically with their somewhat smaller parts. But for me the standout performance was Jessica Lange as Edward’s wife Sandra, and Alison Lohman as her young counterpart. They both lend a great deal of weight to their performances, and every time they cry in the movie I cry right along with them.

Then there’s the visual component of Big Fish. Have you ever seen Sweeney Todd? You know when Mrs. Lovett imagines her future with Sweeney Todd? And everything is super-saturated and the colors are ca-razzy? All the story parts of Big Fish are like that. It’s like Pushing Daisies up in here. Which is absolutely perfect. This is a movie about tales. Fairy tales. Myths. Archetypes. And if there’s one thing Tim Burton can do, it’s create mood through visuals. I just wish he’d do more fairy tale and less gothic nightmare. But this movie thrives visually. There’s a beautiful scene where Edward sees Sandra for the first time, and time literally stops. Or when he fills Auburn’s quad with her favorite flowers. There’s a town that reminds me of the Lotus Eaters from The Odyssea. The lights glow more than they should, and the grass is greener than it should be. It’s so perfect it becomes creepy. But what shocks me is how much Burton nails the quieter moments, like when Young Sandra hears that her husband died in Korea. Or when Old Sandra gets into the tub fully-clothed with her husband who feels like he’s drying up (side-effect of treatment). The movie balances quiet and loud really well, which is an underrated ability.

I could keep going on, honestly. Danny Elfman turns in a fantastic performance. The use of archetype is excellent, especially if you’ve read things like The Odyssea or other quest epics. It plays with genre, ranging wildly from Fantasy to Crime Drama and back to Horror and RomCom. There’s symbolism, and a lot of things coming full circle. But by far the most important part of this movie is the relationship between a father and a son.

We all have different relationships with our fathers. Some weren’t there from the beginning. Some left halfway through. Some were always there but distant. Some were weak, and others were too strong. Some were idiots, and some were intimidating geniuses. Some were liars. But I don’t know that any of us have perfect relationships with our fathers – not all the time. And even if you do, we’re all going to lose our fathers at some point. So this movie is something a lot of people can relate to. It’s about reconciling the Man and the Myth – what you’ve heard about him and from him, with what really happened. It’s about forgiveness. It’s about looking for Truth even in the little lies. It’s about meeting someone halfway, and walking in their shoes, and finally trying to understand them.

This is a movie about quests. Quests to make your fortune. Quests to get the girl of your dreams. Quests to fulfill dreams and rebuild towns. Quests for Truth. And when you go on a quest, you’re going to go in different directions than you planned. Life is going to lead you to circuses, and wars, and heartbreaks. But it can also lead you to wives, and children, and stories that will live on long after you die. Stories about giants, and witches, and werewolves.

And Big Fish.

Twenty-Five Days of Feelings: Day Twenty

This year I’m undergoing a bit of an experiment: Thirty straight days of doing/watching/listening to/reading something that makes me feel – however fleetingly – like an actual human being, in the hopes that this will thaw a layer of ice off my frozen shriveled little heart, and allow me to not be such a buzzkill this year. So let’s get to it.

Day Twenty: 

Guys. This is getting really tough. I’ve literally sat here for thirty forty-five minutes combing my brain for something while I watch Friday Night Lights.

Wait.

That’s it.

No, not FNL. Explosions in the Sky!

My first exposure to them was not from Friday Night Lights, which I just started watching the other day. It started at summer camp, I think. I don’t know, maybe I’d heard them before. But at camp, there were pretty strict rules about what we could listen to, and I’m sorry to report that there’s only so much Christian music I can listen to until I pop a gasket. So Explosions was a perfect find. There are no words, so you can’t get mad about it! Sometimes it’s quiet and perfect background noise. Sometimes it’s epic and pumps you up.

But what I really love about it is its ability to convey emotion. I’m not a “music guy.” I probably spend under $20 a year on music, if that. I only recently learned what a harmony is. So music doesn’t often inspire feelings in me (unless it’s Linkin Park and I’m back in high school), and when it does it’s the lyrics that speak to me, not the music. Explosions is different. I’m able to create a story in my head, to picture scenarios to fit the music. I imagine that’s what people like my brother like about classical music.

Anyway, you should look ’em up on YouTube or something, because it’s really hard to talk about a band that doesn’t sing, and does music for a show you barely watch. But they’re awesome.

Twenty-Five Days of Feelings: Day Nineteen

This year I’m undergoing a bit of an experiment: Thirty straight days of doing/watching/listening to/reading something that makes me feel – however fleetingly – like an actual human being, in the hopes that this will thaw a layer of ice off my frozen shriveled little heart, and allow me to not be such a buzzkill this year. So let’s get to it.

Day Nineteen: The Chronicles of Narnia

Alright so I’m back after a few days’ rest, and I gotta say guys, I’m getting tired. I’m not used to experiencing this much emotion in such a short time – unless it’s rage. I’m used to rage (specifically of the road variety). And more than tired, I’m just running out of things. I know what I have for my last day, but these last few days until then are gonna be rough. But then I remembered the glorious Chronicles of Narnia.

To be honest, there are a ton of C. S. Lewis books I could have done. Perelandra is this amazing allegory. It takes us to the surface of Venus, where God is starting a new work. The whole planet is a Garden of Eden, but with islands that float on the water. The Tree of Knowledge is solid ground it is forbidden to work on. The Serpent is a possessed man from Earth. We follow Ransom (the hero from the first book – Out of the Silent Planet) as he attempts to save the Eve-figure from the temptations of the possessed man. It’s really fascinating, and filled with incredible imagery, and really thought-inducing.

Then there’s Till We Have Faces, which is a re-telling of the Greek myth of Psyche and Cupid. It started out as a denunciation of the gods, but evolved into a beautiful affirmation of the Divine – reflecting Lewis’ own changing beliefs over the course of his life. It’s a story about love – how it can be possessive, cruel, blinding, and generally twisted, yet also redemptive, freeing, and one of the only things that matter. It discusses the Unseen vs. the Seen. It’s really hard to explain, but I highly recommend it.

But of course I had to go with Narnia. I mean, I’ve read the series probably a dozen times since I first read it in fourth grade.

If you don’t know, The Chronicles of Narnia is a series of seven books, all involving the world of Narnia – a land of mythological beasts, talking creatures, of magic both good and evil, of kings and queens and quests – all ruled by the great Lion Aslan. The first book, The Magician’s Nephew, was not actually written first, but details the creation of Narnia with some clear parallels to the Book of Genesis. The second – and most famous – The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobewas the first written. It introduces us to the Pevensie children, who are more-or-less the heroes of the series. It involves reclaiming Narnia from the clutches of The White Witch, who has trapped the world in perpetual winter (but never Christmas). It also parallels the Easter story to some degree. Then there’s The Horse and His Boy, which is in another country and only briefly includes the Pevensies, and is about a talking horse. It’s by far my least favorite. Prince Caspian is a story of reclaiming Narnia again – this time from corrupt men who have hunted the talking beasts and mythic creatures almost to extinction. It’s possibly my favorite, as it includes a rebellion of rag-tag figures who are hopelessly outclassed, the re-awakening of ancient forces, a duel or two, and time-dilation (sort of). Then comes The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which is also a personal favorite. It revolves around a nautical quest to find unjustly-banished lords. Along the way they find various islands full of treasures, temptations, bizarre creatures, star people, magicians, and other odd things. It’s really weird, which is part of the reason I like it so much. Book Six is The Silver Chair, which used to be one of my least favorites. But as I’ve gotten older, it’s become apparent that it’s a really great allegory for living a Christian life, with lots of theological truths hidden throughout. The children are given a path by Aslan, but frequently allow distractions and temptations to knock them off course. Despite straying, however, Aslan continues to send them signs, and in the end they still get where he wants them – it was just harder and took longer. And finally there’s The Last Battle, which is pretty much the terrifying and confusing Book of Revelation, detailing the end of the world. It’s not a favorite, but it’s still super interesting.

Anyway, I’ve read these books more than any other. More than the Harry Potter series, more than my favorite comics, more than The Hunger Games or The Giver or anything else. They’re just so great. They are powerful stories. There’s a huge emphasis on redemption, as several characters begin the series as spoiled, cruel, sad, or unimaginative, but by the end are joyful, strong, kind, better people. There’s also a lot about temptation. Edmund is tempted by the Witch. Eustace is tempted by dragon’s treasure. Even Lucy – the best of them all – is tempted by magic that could make her beautiful. Sometimes the characters give in, and other times they hold fast – but either way they learn something.

At the end of the day, yes, these are children’s books. They’re morality tales to some degree, allegories to Christian teachings. But they’re also a whole lot of fun. There are wars, and quests, and dimension-hopping. There are enchanted weapons and magical creatures. There are evil villains that are truly evil. And there’s something to be said for that kind of purity – no shades of grey and sympathizing with them. No. Evil is beautiful on the surface but incredibly disgusting and repulsive just under that, and once you see it you never forget it. These books are fun, and positive, and I learn something every time I read them. They’re just beautiful tales that I intend to read to my children from Day One – before I give them Harry Potter or The Hobbit or even Alice and Oz. They’re the kind of thing kids should read, because it’s like a burst of light in an all-too-dark world.

Twenty-Five Days of Feelings: Day Eighteen

This year I’m undergoing a bit of an experiment: Thirty straight days of doing/watching/listening to/reading something that makes me feel – however fleetingly – like an actual human being, in the hopes that this will thaw a layer of ice off my frozen shriveled little heart, and allow me to not be such a buzzkill this year. So let’s get to it.

Day Eighteen: Continuum – John Mayer

First off, I skipped yesterday. It just seemed futile to blog about ways to make myself feel better when such a devastating thing as Newtown, CT had happened. As a teacher (more or less), I found this especially upsetting, and just needed to process.

So, between missing yesterday and another day a week or so ago, I’ve decided to shorten my list to twenty-five days, rather than trying to catch up with two-a-days or finishing after Christmas.

Anyway, today’s entry is Continuum by John Mayer – by far my favorite album of his, and one of my favorite albums ever. Before this album, John Mayer was really just a fun, pop kind of artist. “Bigger Than My Body,” “Your Body Is a Wonderland,” and “No Such Thing” are all good songs, but there really isn’t a ton there. It wasn’t until I heard “Daughters” that I realized this guy might be capable of more.

Continuum is a pretty significant shift from his previous two albums. While it’s still a little poppy – mostly just “Waiting on the World to Change” – it’s really a jazz/blues album. It’s less a collection of love songs like the previous two, and it’s not just a breakup album like Battle Studies. More than anything, it’s about growing up, and the fear associated with that. Yes, it’s got songs about girls, and breakups, but there’s some definite fear behind it. And as a 25-year old, I think I can understand that.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the age I’m at. I am better-looking, healthier – both mentally and physically, and infinitely more confident than I ever was in high school or college. I’m not pursuing a major I don’t care about, and I’m not desperately searching for my place in life like so many college kids are. I am happy. But there definitely is that voice in the back of my head saying things like “Well you said you wanted kids before you were 30, and that’s only five years to meet someone, date, be engaged, get married, have some alone time with them, and then have a child,” or “You’re 25 and you still live at home and don’t have a full-time job.” Anyway John, I get it.

And now, a story. This summer I went to Scotland for a wedding. Over the course of these ten days, I stayed up late, and got up early. I walked. SO MUCH. Up mountains and around cities. I lost almost five pounds, despite eating extremely well. Over my last three days, I got roughly eight hours of sleep. I spent a night trying to sleep in an airport but couldn’t because of some extremely loud Nigerians. And on my five-hour train ride from Scotland to London, I tried to listen to Continuum. And it took every ounce of self-control to not cry. And by “cry” I mean full-blown sobbing. If I had allowed a single tear to fall from my incredibly full eyes, I would have been gasping for air, sobbing the words “I don’t even…” again and again, until I felt nauseous. That kind of crying. Yes, it was mostly because I was tired, but I guarantee Coldplay wasn’t bringing that level of emotion to the surface.

Maybe it was thinking about my parents getting old (“Stop This Train”). Maybe it was thinking about past breakups (“Slow Dancing in a Burning Room,” “Dreaming With a Broken Heart”). Maybe it’s just the beauty of “Gravity.” I don’t know what it was. But the album is beautiful. It’s soulful. It’s sad. It’s jazzy and a little sweet. In a word, it’s pretty much perfect.

 

And on a different note, did you know that the Westboro Baptist Church is planning on picketing the funerals of the victims of the Newtown massacre? To “sing the praises of God” for executing his divine plan? Did you know that since we don’t hold the power to directly send them straight to the hell they deserve, we can at least petition the government to label them a hate group? Here’s a link to the petition, if you feel like doing that.

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/legally-recognize-westboro-baptist-church-hate-group/DYf3pH2d

Thirty Days of Feelings: Day Seventeen

This year I’m undergoing a bit of an experiment: Thirty straight days of doing/watching/listening to/reading something that makes me feel – however fleetingly – like an actual human being, in the hopes that this will thaw a layer of ice off my frozen shriveled little heart, and allow me to not be such a buzzkill this year. So let’s get to it.

Day Seventeen: Charlie Brown

Charlie Brown

“I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I’m not happy. I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel. I just don’t understand Christmas, I guess. I like getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I’m still not happy. I always end up feeling depressed.”

If there’s one quote that perfectly encapsulates how I feel about Christmas, it’s this one. I do like getting presents, and cooking big meals, and going to holiday parties and wearing tacky sweaters. I like sipping coco by the fire curled up with people I love. I like singing Christmas hymns at the Christmas Eve service at church, and lighting the candles and reading the nativity story. I like all those things, I really do! But I just don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel. I get annoyed at those people that start freaking out about it in July. I get annoyed when Christmas decorations come out the day after Halloween. I get annoyed by Black Friday sales getting moved up to Thanksgiving. I get tired of hearing an endless loop of “Christmas” songs that really only talk about fat snowmen or winter wonderlands. I get tired of the non-stop barrage of holiday commercials trying to convince me to buy some more inane crap. I get tired of these assholes on Fox News bemoaning the “War on Christmas.” I’m sorry douches, but the “War on Christmas” was lost the day the flipping Flintstones celebrated Christmas millennia before the birth of Christ.

I can’t separate the commercialism from the holiday. I can’t separate the secularism from the holiday. I can’t separate years of guilt – for causing my extended family to fight, for them spending half their yearly income to make us happy. I can’t separate years of resentment of my extended family, who are constantly being bailed out by my parents yet treat them with jealousy and judgment. I can’t separate the constant reminder that Christmas is a time to be with someone you love – and yet here I am, unsure if I’ve ever felt that way about anyone. I want to. I hope to. But right now, I can’t.

And neither can Charlie Brown. But by golly he tries. He directs the Christmas play, hoping it will inspire those feelings inside him. But all everyone wants to do is modernize the holiday, and the play, to make it more fun and more relevant. He tries to get a Christmas tree, but they’re all aluminum and multicolored and weird. Ultimately however, it all works out. His best friend Linus delivers the nativity speech, reminding Charlie Brown about the true meaning of Christmas. His friends circle around him and decorate his crappy little dead tree. And Christmas is saved for our lovable hero.

Charlie Brown is… the most cynical little optimist around. Yes, he complains about Christmas. Yes, he gets rocks for Thanksgiving. Yes, he gets no respect from friends and pets alike, and that little redhead girl never notices him. But he tries so darn hard. He always goes after that football. And honestly, that’s so freaking inspiring. It gives me hope. I know he’s just a cartoon character, but if that little guy can deal with his issues, well then so can I.

So let’s go after those footballs. Lucys of the world, beware.