“A night made for believers of all ages.”
So says the heartwarming 1997 Christmas video “Annabelle’s Wish” (which I watched again with my 2 teenagers yesterday).
But the Christmas programming this year on BBC and ITV seemed to be all about dashing dreams.
King Arthur died; Maria was unmasked; the creator of The Snowman was revealed to be an old curmudgeon; and tragedy hit Downton Abbey again.
First of all, we learned that the real Maria Von Trapp seems to have carried off one of the most successful pieces of spin of the twentieth century.
The lovely Maria who danced and sang in the mountains, and transformed the lives of the Von Trapp children, turns out to be based upon a real Maria who was, it seems, a rather nasty piece of work – according to the investigation by Sue Perkins of the real story behind The Sound of Music. The testimony of Maria’s daughter Rosemarie was quite chilling. In fact the truth appears to be exactly the opposite to its portrayal in the Rodgers & Hammerstein film.
Then there was the end to the much-loved Merlin series.
We had tears on Christmas Day when we caught up with “Merlin” and watched the heartrending scene at the death of Arthur – and then saw a contemporary Emrys making his lonely way along the road, a wandering traveller many centuries later.
But, of course, as regards Arthur’s destiny, we know from Tennyson’s “Morte d’Arthur”, it had to be.
Excalibur had to be returned to the lake so that there might arise a hand, clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful, to receive the wonderful sword.
And then of there was a scene of cruel irony at the end of Downton Abbey – an irony perhaps many of us can relate to.
And finally, we were reminded that the creator of the gentle, poignant and enchanting film The Snowman, Raymond Briggs, was more like Fungus the Bogeyman.
There seemed an unusually high dose of sadness and grief and irony on TV this Christmas.
So where is the positive, hopeful light in this? For that, let us return to Charles Dickens.
His Christmas Carol encompasses all the sadness, cruelty and injustice of life, together with the mistakes we make, and an uplifting message of transformation at the end.
Ultimately, Scrooge “did all that he promised and much more.”
Thank God for that, and for the hope we can draw from the choice one man made after being visited by three spirits on Christmas Eve.