We’re well on our way through our Christmas movie Advent Calendar. We prefer to stay with our own DVD Christmas movies, but we sometimes dip into the ones on endless streaming.
All those movie themes are identical. Klein and Gretchen, two kids who can’t stand each other grow up, move away, come home, see each other, she agrees to have coffee with him, he rents the coffeeshop and decorates it, she walks in, he’s on his knee holding a ring, she says, “No way,” and walks out.
A blizzard blows into town, and no one is able to get out of their homes. Gretchen’s mom is sick and needs medicine. Klein hears the news, takes Mert Casterlink’s old mare, and rides through the storm to reach the doctor. Everyone thinks he will be the hero, braving the ice and snow, wolves and bears, sub-zero temps, disregarding his own asthma, and will save the mom, winning the girl’s heart.
On the way back through the impossibly deep snow, the horse suddenly rears up and the young man falls off, losing the life-saving medicine and aggravating an old back injury from a military basic training accident. He scrambles around in the drifts, finds the pills, slowly stands while holding his back, and starts walking.
As the winds grow stronger, icy needles sting the young man’s face as he dreams of saving the girl’s mother. He presses through the storm and realizes he can take a shortcut across Lake Whileena. In unison, tens of viewers at home yell, “No! Don’t do it! The ice isn’t thick enough yet!” But Klein ignores them.
Klein is in the middle of the lake when the ice breaks and he falls into the freezing water. Luckily, the small box of life-saving medicine slides away on the ice. Thinking only of saving Gretchen’s mom, he scratches his way out of the water, crawls to the pills, and finally reaches the other side of the lake. Miraculously, the horse is standing a few feet away, bobbing her head up and down as if to say, “Good job! I’ve been waiting for you!”
With his clothes frozen solid and feeling as if he is on the brink of death himself, he climbs up on the mare and immediately passes out.
Klein awakes. He is lying on a bed covered with hand-made quilts, a fire crackles, a steaming cup of coffee is held to his mouth. His eyes are blurry, but he finally sees the one holding the cup. It’s Gretchen’s mom. She didn’t die. Klein saved her life.
“Wh-where’s Gretchen?” Klein whispers.
“There, there, you rest now,” the woman says.
“But where’s Gretchen?” he asks again.
“Her husband, Don, came. They were separated, but he wants to try again,” she answers.
Klein turns away, refusing the coffee.
Four days later, Klein is packing for his return to El Monte. There is a knock on the door. With his back and his heart still aching, Klein opens the door.
“I bought you this,” Gretchen says, holding a small, beautifully wrapped present.
“I thought you went back to Don,” Klein says, turning away.
“Don is gone. He wanted me to move to Sputzville, Arkansas with him. I refused. It’s over.”
“What does that mean?” Klein asks.
“It means I would like to go back to the coffee shop with you,” she says, still holding the gift.
Klein walks over to her, slowly takes the gift and unwraps it. Inside the small box is a coffee cup with the words, “Klein, my hero,” on it.
Klein takes Gretchen in his arms and they kiss. The End.
We recently watched the 1992 version of Miracle on 34th Street, with the adorable six-year-old, Susan Walker. Attorney Bryan Bedford is madly in love with Susan’s mother, Dorey. Kris Kringle is working to make a believer out of Mrs. Walker, and capture the heart of little Susan.
Dorey Walker repeatedly defends her choice not to believe in Santa Claus and protect her daughter from dreams that don’t come true.
“If you can’t accept anything by faith, you’re doomed to a life of doubt,” Kris says to Mrs. Walker.
In court, Kris Kringle is proven to be the real Santa Claus, and everyone is thrilled, including Dorey and Susan Walker.
Maybe that’s why Christmas is so special. The power of kids believing affects everyone around them, even if just for a little while.