Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Take Me Home

"And if you believe in love, that will be more than enough
for peace to last throughout the coming year."
John Denver and Kermit, singing "The Christmas Wish"

Well, gang, this will be my last entry until 2008. I know, I know. Dry your eyes. I’ll be back in January. See, I’m leaving on a (jet) plane tonight and heading back home to Chicago for Christmas. And despite the fact that it’s going to be cold and snowy, I couldn’t be happier about the trip. It’s the first time in almost a year that I’ve been back, so it will be a busy 12 days trying to catch up with family and friends and visiting all the old stomping grounds.

So this is my official “Happy holidays!” post. And on that note, I wanted to talk about my favorite Christmas album of all time: "A Christmas Together" by John Denver and the Muppets. No, I’m not joking. When I discovered someone had downloaded clips from the 1979 TV special onto YouTube last week, it was literally like receiving an early Christmas gift. (Thank you, whoever you are.)

Here’s the matter how old I get, the Muppets never fail to crack me up and warm the cockles of my heart. I still howl with laughter when I see Beaker "meeping" at Dr. Bunsen Honeydew or Statler & Waldorf heckling the performers. I also get a wee bit misty-eyed whenever I hear The Rainbow Connection. Like many in my age bracket, I grew up faithfully watching The Muppet Show, Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock. To date, I don’t think any other children’s show has ever been able to resurrect the same whimsical message of love and friendship that Jim Henson and Frank Oz brought us kiddies in those early days of programming.

That very message highlights "A Christmas Together," creating the perfect tribute to the holiday season. My family owns dozens of Christmas albums, including favorites such as Nat King Cole and Bing Crosby, yet the Muppets remains at the top of my holiday listening list every year. I don't know - it could be the nostalgia factor - but listening to the music transports me back to a simpler time, when I wore pigtails, adored a non-creepy Michael Jackson, made popsicle stick ornaments in class and pedaled my bike with the flowered banana seat around the neighborhood with friends. But I digress.

Not only is the Muppets-John Denver collaboration funny (I KNOW you did not get through "Little St. Nick" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" without snickering!) but it's also heartfelt, thanks to gems like "Where the River Meets the Sea" and "A Baby Just like You." Check out these two clips - one humorous and the other more touching - as confirmation.

All in all, "A Christmas Together" expresses what I feel is the true sentiment of the season – peace on earth, goodwill to mankind and love of family and friends. As you can probably tell, I adore it as much now as I did when I was a kid. Now, if only Santa could grease the wheels a bit and get the powers-that-be to release this treasure on DVD. Please?

Either way, I’m hoping Jim Henson and John Denver are hanging out somewhere together right now, entertaining all the celestial revelers with festive carols. Guys, we miss you! Thanks for making this world a better place.

Happy holidays y'all. Be safe and I'll talk to you again in 2008!

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