A lonely janitor (played by Jimmy Stewart) daydreams about what Christmas would be like if he were surrounded by people who love him. Meanwhile, his younger cousin, Freddy, wreaks havoc on Elm Street.
Look, I don’t want to make waves, but this is easily the best made-for-TV Christmas special from 1980 starring James Stewart that I have ever seen.
This film came out on DVD while I was serving as a missionary. My fellow elders and I each received one or two free copies to watch with the kind people we interacted with during that Christmas season. And since LDS missionaries aren’t supposed to watch TV or movies during their mission, being allowed to watch this one was like smoking crack. I watched it every chance I got, and I couldn’t stop.
Now I don’t know why I find this so funny, but somewhere around the six and a half minute mark, there’s this middle-aged man in a fluorescent orange snow cap that chugs up behind Mr. Krueger’s sleigh in the background, waving his arm in a rather enthusiastic manner. I don’t know who that guy is, but we’ve always had a special holiday bond.
OH, SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW: Around the 16 and a half minute mark, as Mr. Krueger walks over to ask his cat not to fall asleep and leave him all alone, you may notice there’s some random guy just chillaxing in the corner with his arms folded. And because I know a Michael McLean production would never make such a glaringly awful mistake, I can only assume this man is an intentional character in the story, most likely Mr. Krueger’s long lost cousin who was mute at birth and had come to spend the holidays, but who Mr. Krueger kept forgetting existed. This unheralded character, of course, plays perfectly into the message of the film, which is that you’re never truly alone as long as you have a strange, creepy man staring at you in silence from the corner of your room.
1) The Observer. As you watch this film, you wait and hope for somebody to reach out and be a friend to this lonely old man. How often do we walk by people like Mr. Krueger, but are in too much of a hurry to stop and serve?
2) The Lonesome. Someday each of us will be on that isolated end of life where we’re physically able to do less and less, while relying on others for more and more. It’s hard to imagine living a life where you constantly feel like a burden to those around you, but that life is a sober reality for many people—especially the elderly.
Whether we’re currently in that category or not, may we remember that the best anecdote to life’s lonely moments is prayer. And may we remember those lonely moments when opportunities arise to be the answer to someone else’s prayer.
As Mr. Krueger so simply stated to the Christ child, “I love you. You’re my closest, my finest friend.”
Merry Christmas—and may all of us take at least a few moments this week to have our own heartfelt conversation with the Messiah in the manger.
“He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted…” – Luke 4:18