It's easy to miss it on the endless 'holiday' movie crapfest that's on Netflix. Tinder swipe your way past it at your peril. Don't misunderstand me. I love James Steward and I love that he has a Wonderful Life. And I hate that smug little Mara Wilson. I hope the miracle on 34th street is that I go back in time and slap that kid's face. I wouldn't get tired. Oh, how Ebeneezer of me. She's probably all grown up and a Cross Fit freak who'd beat me silly.
What is it about this film that makes my heart glow, like I've drank a pint of mulled wine? Quite simply, because Buddy the Elf effortlessly reminds us what is so awesome about Christmas. Buddy (played by notoriously tall Will Ferrell) is an orphan accidentally snatched by Father Christmas and raised as an elf in the North Pole. After unintentionally wreaking havoc in the elf community, he sets off to find his real Dad (James Caan) and his true identity in New York.
I have a weird, self imposed tradition about this film. Until now, I've been left alone to indulge it, but now the little dude has come along, I firmly intend to include him. Here's the criteria: December 23rd, a pile of presents, huge box of malteesers, gift tags, sellotape and half a forest of wrapping paper. Hit that play button please! This tradition is more of an audio treat for me, as I'm tearing through sellotape with my teeth while it plays. The result is I can irritate many people by quoting it. I think you can see where I'm going with this...
- "I am a cotton headed ninny muggins"
Buddy understands better than anyone how to phrase self admonishment after reflecting on behaviour at the work Christmas party. According to some research talked about on Radio 4 (so it must be legit) the Brits are the worst for revealing embarrassing truths about themselves, or behaving inappropriately at the annual work do. I'm definitely guilty of both. In my first career by boss gave me this sage advice: get your client drunk, get your boss drunk, then get drunk. After that party my friend became legendary with the London Fire Brigade Service for her vodka fuelled antics. In that industry, it gained her a promotion: you've got to love Advertising.
- "You didn't recognise me? I'm wearing work clothes today"
- "First we'll make snow angels for two hours"
His pure childlike joy of Christmas makes me greener than the Grinch with envy. I mourn for the feeling of Christmas Eve when I was a child. I used to make lists to plan out the day, just so I could cope with the excitement. A Freudian slip, which exposed what a massive, organisational nerd I was even as a child. One year my older brother found it and mocked me mercilessly (justly, I now retrospectively see) for writing the following.
9.30am eat chocolate coins
10am watch Snowman
Why I would stare slack jawed at the tree for a quarter of an hour is beyond me, but I bet Buddy would, so I feel a bit better about it.
- "SANTA! Oh my gosh, I know him! I know him!"
Buddy tackles office boredom like a boss. I once had a job for... hmm, let's just call them the UK's largest health and beauty retailer, which gave me stress panic because of the boredom. Once, I spent a whole day cutting out paper snowflakes to decorate my desk and my boss didn't bat an eyelid.
- "Singing? Well, it's just like talking, except longer and louder, and you move your voice up and down."
I'm not a bad singer, but at Carol Services I think I'm Adele. If you're wearing a hat in the pew in front, prepare for it be blasted off with a burst of 'O Come all Ye Faithful' rocking out of my lungs. I don't even tone it down for 'Silent Night'.
- "You sit on a throne of lies!"
He's smarter and braver than I'll ever be. There's many a Christmas meal (usually with work) I've attended and had to hold my tongue as some guest, fuelled by festive jagerbombs, prattles on about how awesome they are.
- "Son of a NUT-cracker"
It's only happened to me once, that truly Dickensian white Christmas and it was awesome - partly because it's my second favourite memory of my Dad (he's still alive, don't worry). My favourite is how drunk he got at my brothers wedding, but I'll save that for later. Picture the scene: midnight mass over, we leave church to see in the past hour a blanket of fresh snow has fallen. The stars are bright, the tree lights twinkle, the peace is unbroken. Until my Dad, hiding behind a tree like a child, smacks me in the head with an icy cannonball. He's definitely no Scrooge, but neither is he a Mr Fezziwig, so this behaviour was surprising to say the least. Like Buddy shows us, this is further proof that a snowball fight can unite hearts and minds with joy, and pure icy vengeance.
- "We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup"
which is basically everyone's December diet.
- "If you see a sign that says 'Peep Show' they're not letting you see new toys before Christmas."
Christmas is a time to reconnect with Christ and to think about society, how we treat others and what kind of world our kids will grow up in. The difference between Buddy's joyful naivety and the cold, harshness of New Yorkers is as red and white as a candy cane. With each person Buddy meets, he melts their cynicism, their indifference to those around them, their selfishness and greed and leaves each of them a better person for the experience. I'm not saying Buddy is the second coming - but he's a good secular metaphor for Christian values of good will and peace to all men. Just he comes with candy. Lots and lots of candy.