Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Bit of Christmas Glee

The standard reply when asked if I really watch Glee is usually, "Well I have a 10 year old daughter and she just loves it." Truth is, I love it too. It is a weekly one hour musical that often serves to tug at some string within my heart.

Tonight's Christmas episode embraced The Grinch storyline with Sue Sylvester as the loathsome green antagonist. There may be no better villain in all of TV land. It also included a comical portrayal of Brittany and her belief that Santa Claus is real.

Looking beyond what has become a tired storyline of Finn and Rachel was the embodiment of what many want from the season: belief in better.

Finn consistently pressed to look beyond the verbal and physical revulsion to the choir caroling through classrooms. He pressed that others had it worse when the club came across Sue's Grinch inspired trashing of their tree, choir room and theft of gifts for needy children.

Brittany, to the shock of her friends, treated Christmas as if she were five. Artie, her wheel chair bound boyfriend, pleaded that no one disclose the truth. He had them go to the mall to sit on Santa's lap to show they too believed. They even went as far to ask the football coach (a hefty woman) to dress up as Santa and break into Brittany's house so she could take back the Christmas wish the mall Santa said he would honor: that Artie would walk.

What each managed to do was elevate those around them.

Finn's demand for being in the season found the club in the teacher's lounge where a cold Sue's heart was eventually melted. As she watched her fellow educators donate what little they had to replace the pilfered gifts, the power of giving finally overcame her years of holiday pain.

Brittany's belief inspired someone (we were made to believe the coach as she smile secretly outside the choir room doors) to pay a large sum of money to purchase a device which helped Artie walk. With the students questioning who made such a sacrifice, they happily attributed it to a Christmas miracle.

For a moment there was a collective belief things could get better.

In the end the glee club, at Sue's bidding and with Sue, are found in Schuester's house decorating a new tree with all the "stolen" presents under it. Ms Sylvester discloses the truth of how and why and we end with the two enemies wishing each other a Merry Christmas, refuting Will's belief that he would be alone for Christmas.

There is not a whole lot of digging to be done here: the message is obvious. As was recently noted by a friend on Facebook, "If people put half as much effort coming up with solutions to problems as they do complaining about problems the world would be a better place."

It is as basic as Camus's call to imagine Sisyphus happy: Or in the words of historian Howard Zinn:
“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something.”
The season is about something which transcends any religion which claims ownership and it is a sentiment which is not isolated to believing in any deity. It is a simple reminder that a single act, one which serves to make at least one person happier, will contain within it the fact of immediate change and the hope for permanence.
We should not be ashamed or feel stupid that we sometimes need to be reminded of this truth. Some of us can not remember where we left our keys, our glasses or our wallet half the time. Maybe that is really what the message is: Beyond being hopeful that our actions can change others, the belief that an other's actions can change us.

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