When The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell was published in 1946 it was a holiday phenomenon. This “classic” story has since been published numerous times (with many different illustrated versions); made into movies (cartoon, musical, and live action); and in the list of best-selling children stories of all time (!) it comes up in the top 20.
Heck, even holiday crooner Bing Crosby sang a song based on the plot of it!
I remember the first time I heard this story. It was at catechism. and the teacher read it to us as if she was bestowing a great holiday gift on us children. I can still see her smile. While the other kids casually sat near me with crossed legs, I remember really being bothered by the story. I couldn’t put my finger on it then, but that reaction to the tale has never gone away for me. And that day, I raised my hand for I had some questions.
My hand is still up in the air.
The fact is, after thinking about it far too much, and being haunted by it like Marley’s ghost each year, I can’t escape my problems with this narrative. I have come to the opinion that this Christmas traditional yarn is… just awful. Horrendous. Possibly the worst holiday story. Oh, God, it is just bad.
Okay, it takes a lot for a story to be a worst holiday yarn than the appalling song “The Christmas Shoes” (which for those lucky not to know is the materialistic and disturbing ditty about an ignorant child who leaves his dying mother’s bedside to go shopping, assuming that the shoes he puts on her feet will go with her soul to heaven and there impress Jesus), but The Littlest Angel does it. It does it ten times over.
Grab a cup of hot chocolate and a Christmas cookie, snuggle in by the fireplace, and let me tell you why… Continue reading
Posted in Books, Life, Parenting
Tagged Afterlife, Angels, Back to the Future, Bing Crosby, Catholic, Charles Tazewell, Children, Children Literature, Christmas, Chucky Cheese, Death, Doc Brown, Dwarfs, Eden, Elves, First Christmas, God, Hobbits, Holiday, Jesus, Marley, Marty McFly, Nativity, Parenting, Possibilian, Religous, Santa Clause, The Littlest Angel, The Lord of the Rings, Time Travel, Tolkien, Vatican
Every night my children go to bed with cheetah cubbies that may be leopards.
They are cheap stuffed toys, the kind you see at the front of lesser family restaurants. Nothing extravagant, but wherever they go in the house, they are usually in the same room, many times next to each other. And each evening, they are needed for nighttime or there might be tears.
The cheetahs started with my son when he realized how fast they were.
My son has always loved to run. Back when he used to go to daycare and I would pick him up, on every nice day he would be in the playground racing with his friends. The teacher would just shout “Go!” and watch the kids run around and around again, not considering it was the parents that had to deal with the kids with sweat-soaked hair that would always need a bath later.
Now my son wasn’t always the fastest, he did good, but there were always kids a little faster since they might be older or just plan bigger. But that didn’t matter to my son, he would always tell me on the way home how he won… even when we both knew he didn’t.
He was Dash from The Incredibles for Halloween when he was four then the year after that The Flash. Whenever either costume was put on he would get this look in his eye, scream “zoom” and take off running around our house hoping to find a bad guy some place.
A red blur of speed!
Last Christmas, my daughter gave her brother a giant stuffed cheetah. (Well, actually the parents did but she happily took credit for it, she was one then.) My son immediately declared it was the mommy cheetah, and they both happily agreed. The cheetah cubbies were grabbed and quickly were reunited.
They are now a family of cheetahs. Continue reading
Posted in Parenting
Tagged Batman, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Blogging, Cheetahs, Children, Cinderella, Collecting, Costumes, Dance, Dash, Disney Infinity, Disneyland, Fisher Price, Halloween, Incredibles, Kids, Man of Steel, Obsessions, Parenting, Princess, PS3, Scout, Superman, Teen Titans, The Flash, Thomas the Tank Engine, Tigger, Toddlers, Toys, Writing
My clock has switched.
I’m not sure how this happened, but everything is upside down and it is the new norm I have to accept. I’m Alice in a world where the ceiling is now the floor, and that is just how reality will have to be. We are all mad here.
Let me explain this better: When you are young you are always counting up to experiences.
- When I am 16, I will learn to drive a car.
- When I am 18, I graduate and go to college.
- When I am 21, I can drink (well, I don’t like alcohol very much, so I watch my friends drink…. I just have never liked the taste or smell of beer or wine. Okay, I do admit I drink a little but the stuff I do enjoy, the mixes, usually involve chocolate or fruity flavors and they can come in glasses that some would find embarrassing. Well, just the color would be embarrassing for many to be near. So I keep to the soda when I am out in public, because I like to believe I have a certain swagger in my step and a coolness that I aim to keep, and the fruity drinks don’t help).
More counting! Then there is a wedding… and a house…the first baby… and a second… And suddenly, right there, when you have reached your limit on kids, and they begin to age out of diapers and clothes… everything turns.
It’s like in one of those cartoons from the 1940’s where the clocks have a face and the hands are attached to the nose and they spin in a strange fashion. Well, that is my internal clock, and now with 40 fast approaching, I feel the face’s confusion.
I have begun counting down to things… The outcome at the end, I don’t want to even imagine.
(I need a break, just a second. I have a soda around here someplace.) Continue reading
Posted in Life
Tagged Alice in Wonderland, Children, Coffee Shops, Death, Facebook, Family, Fiction, Friends, Growing Old, Growing Up, Kids, Life, Memories, Mid-Life Crisis, Parenting, Star Wars, Time, Turning Forty, Writing
I had a spare grandparent. And this grandparent visited me every day, was interested in what I was doing, asked me questions, talked to me about my feelings and told me the coolest stories that involved a land of make-believe…
He also taught me how crayons were made.
For many, it was always easy to make fun of Mr. Rogers and his show Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, but I never could. Even as an adult, I look back on it fondly. Yes, I loved Sesame Street, Saturday morning cartoons, Donald Duck, Looney Toons, but Mr. Rogers spoke to me… directly to me.
I think one of the reasons I felt so close to the show is that my grandmother was a very popular kindergarten teacher. No, popular doesn’t do it justice, she was a celebrity in her hometown. When we would visit stores together we would have grownups of all ages approach her to say hi and give a hug. And my grandmother, with a skill I cannot imagine having, could always see the child behind the older eyes. She never got a name wrong, never.
When I think back on conversations with my grandmother, it always feels a lot like how Mr. Rogers speaks during the show. That patience. That unblinking interest. That humor that seems to hide behind the wink and smile. Continue reading
Posted in Life, Parenting, TV
Tagged Children, Daniel Tiger, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Education, Fred Rogers, Grandparents, Growing Up, Inception, Kids, King Friday, Lade Elaine, Life, Make-Believe, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, Parenting, PBS, PBS Kids, Sesame Street, The Electric Company, TV, Wynton Marsalis
On Friday I made a major sacrifice for me. My wife took my son to see Monsters University while I stayed home.
They needed some alone time together, which is understandable, and I watched the toddler, not at all imagining with extreme jealously the wonderful new Pixar film they were experiencing together.
On Saturday. I went to a wedding for a really great couple, one of my favorites. During the evening, I found myself standing around with a group of parents and the new Pixar film came up. The parents who saw it already fawned over it, one even declared it the best they have done.
Breathe deep, Scott, breathe…
Since starting this site I have written a few times on Disney and my fascination. Here are a few posts to check out:
Have a magical day!
Posted in Film, Parenting
Tagged Beauty and the Beast, Brave, Cars, Children, Children Films, Cinderella, Disney, Disneyland, Incredibles, Monsters University, Parenting, Pixar, Princesses, Scully, Wall-E, Walt Disney, Winnie-the-Pooh
For years I dreamed of Scout.
That is how I used to imagine my future daughter. Smart, inquisitive, able to stand up in a fight and not playing with dolls, finally growing into a person like Harper Lee. Inventive. Creative. Empowered.
That is not to say I envisioned myself as an Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird. I’m not that great, and when I do heart-to-hearts with my kids they are never that lyrical or profound. Usually, it seems to me, that my big parental moments are always about the importance of sharing and taking turns (from toys to parents). Ah, the life of a father with two little ones.
Whatever the case, my daughter is over two now, almost two and a half, and all of the popular girl trends I hoped to avoid with my daughter have taken over and laid waste to my Scout dreams. Where there should be overalls, there are pink leggings, where the toys should be educational and gender-neutral, her likes lean towards the pink aisle of the toy store, the one boys avoid like the cooties.
Yes, my daughter is a full-on little girl, surrounded by Care Bears, babies that need rocking, a lot of pink, and I am at a loss… and then there are the princesses. Continue reading
Posted in Books, Parenting
Tagged Aladdin, Ariel, Atticus Finch, Beauty and the Beast, Belle, Care Bears, Children, Cinderella, Daughters, Disney, Fairy Tales, Harper Lee, Jasmine, Kids, Life, Parenting, Princess, Rapunzel, Scout, Sleeping Beauty, Tangled, The Little Mermaid, To Kill a Mockingbird, Walt
Superman was always my favorite superhero. There was always a lost operatic elegance to his story in my opinion. Yes, he saves cats from trees and helps old ladies cross the street, but he is alone among us. One of us, and yet not really one of us. A lost relic of another world, another time.
One of my favorite character debates comes around Superman. See, I love breaking down what makes a character or a story work, and here is the one I always like to throw at writers, is Superman pretending to be Clark Kent or is Clark Kent pretending to be Superman.
I love that!
See, Christopher Reeve had Superman be the real person and Clark Kent the performance, but more recently, TV shows like Smallville and Lois and Clark had it the other way around. What does that mean really? Everything to the character, little to us in the real world, of course. Our boring and drab reality where men don’t fly, and magic and superpowers only survive in our imaginations.
I’ve been thinking a lot about superheroes over the last few years. Mostly that is because of my son. The one nearby me as I write this, wearing Justice League PJs, Star Wars slippers, and holding a Superman toy from the film Man of Steel. He is five. Continue reading
Posted in Film, Parenting, TV
Tagged Anakin, Arkham, Batman, Books, Children, Children Films, Children Stories, Comic Book Films, Comic Books, Dark Knight, DC Comics, Disney, Green Lantern, Incredibles, Indiana Jones, Injustice, Innocence, Jurassic Park, Kids, Life, Man of Steel, Movies, Parenting, Pixar, Playstation, Star Wars, Super Friends, Super heroes, Superman, Video games, violence, Wizard of Oz
Two of my posts are on Green Spot Blue today! If you have not visited Green Spot Blue, you should check it out. It’s a parenting site for readers where you will find everything from fun things to do with your kids to poems (for kids and adults) to fiction to book reviews to fashion to exciting and unique shopping options…. Perfect for the literary, crafty, and fun parent.
What can I say? I am a fan, and I have written for them a few times. I was also fortunate to have my collection of short stories Upon the Gound shared on the site.
The Historical Resonance of Turning Two
In this post I write about the experience of watching the last child I will have as a parent leave infancy behind. You can read the article on GSB here.
Growing up with a runner for a dad I was overwhelmed by the tragedy at the Boston Marathon. I had to share my thoughts. You can read that article here.