“So tell me – What’s your favourite Christmas movie?”
There I was driving along with the ten-year-old. Feeling very Christmassy, I was wondering would it be an old favourite like “It’s a Wonderful Life”, or a modern classic like “Elf”, or maybe something a bit quirky like “Muppets’ Christmas Carol”. Of course I was planning a cozy snuggle on the sofa with blankies and hot chocolate and whichever movie was chosen. Just to get us in the mood. Mummy-baby bonding sort of thing.
“Weeelllll…. Could ‘Braveheart’ be considered a Christmas movie?”
The car took a National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation type of swerve in response.
I will be honest, I was conflicted. I didn’t want to undermine her choice. Braveheart is indeed a fine movie. And in fairness Mel Gibson’s speech to the assembled Scottish clans asking would they be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance to tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom, evokes a far more genuine tear than Jimmy Stewart running shouting “Merry Christmas you old Building and Loan”.
But what to say to a ten-year-old who responds with as much laughter to bare Scottish backsides pointed at English armies, as she does to Home Alone’s burglars getting burned on the bum in a Chicago basement?
And I had bigger questions. How did she see all of Braveheart without me knowing? And I clearly need to watch it again to see if it is at all suitable. What kind of a mother am I that she prefers the centuries’ old battle for Scottish independence to the heart-warming tale of an Elf lost in New York? Does she have an entirely different and darker take on what the Christmas message is all about? The torture of William Wallace may well relate to the scene in Calvary, but surely not to the stable in Bethlehem. Have I somehow engrained a political perspective onto this impressionable young mind that made the treachery of Robert the Bruce comparable to Scrooge before his redemption? Do I need to do a bit of work about peace and good will to all men?
In the space of ten seconds what had started out as a cozy question designed to end with hot chocolate had become a fundamental heart search regarding my suitability as a parent.
And then I had my own epiphany. I was making this about me. So she likes Braveheart, sure why not? It is after all a simple, well told tale of bravery against the odds. Sure isn’t that the tale of the escape out of Nazareth or John McClane in Die Hard 1 and 2? Her answer was as perfect as it was honest. So this weekend friends, enjoy your own snuggle up to watch whatever toasts your chestnuts, and me and my baby will be watching the movie that jingles her bells. And as a festive act of mummy controlling we will likely slide straight into Bedford Falls afterwards.