Every Christmas, I watch White Christmas, Raymond Brigg’s The Snowman, Muppet Christmas Carol, Elf and The Mothman Prophecies. While the other picks may seem more intuitive, The Mothman Prophecies is an important part of my holiday.
For those of you who may not know, The Mothman Prophecies is a fictionalized account of the supernatural experiences preceding the unexplained collapse of the Silver Bridge in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Previous to the accident, which claimed the lives of 46 people, there were several unsettling sightings of a black, winged creature with red, glowing eyes. The movie interprets these sightings as portents of death and violence.
I make no claims that this is a great film. However, it remains on my list of must-watch Christmas movies for the following reasons:
- It takes places at Christmas. So there.
- It was filmed in PA in a small town where one of my friends grew up. Richard Gere is also from PA and his mother was involved in church circles with my grandmother. My grandmother always referred to him as “Dicky Gere Didn’t He Become An Actor.” These trivia facts lend a homey feel to the movie for me.
- I find the inevitability of death– despite all interventions well-intended, supernatural or otherwise– intensely comforting.
In the end, the movie suggests that death will find all of us in time and that the best we can do with the time that we have is to spend it, not trying to ward off death, but in loving and living well. There exists no agency, human or supernatural, which can undo mortality. Accepting this fact is not a source of despair, but an incredible relief and an opportunity to embrace community tightly.
This is a point not far off from that of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, which is a ghost story above all else. In the story, Scrooge is invited, on the occasion of Christmas, to consider how well he has spent his life in the company of his neighbors in light of the fact that life will some day soon come to an end. Scrooge is offered the opportunity to amend the quality of his life, as opposed to being offered an excuse from the inevitability of death. Death is not the thing to be feared in A Christmas Carol; rather, the most haunting spectre is a life spent strangled in stingy loneliness.
I think this is the character of the season- be it Christmas or Solstice or Chanukah. In darkness, there is light– a light around which we should draw as many faces as we can. It is with our backs pressed flat to the cold, firm promise of a final day that we can best enjoy the warmth we share with one another now.
Have a wonderful season with those you love.