Dad is upset that Christmas has become too commercial (in 1954), so he decides his family is going to participate in some good old-fashioned Christmas traditions, as a family.
Unfortunately, their car breaks down and they get snowed into a cabin. Of course, in the cabin lives a kindly old bearded man named Nick. And he seems to know more about Christmas than anyone else. While most people would be a little creeped out by the old man, there’s something oddly special about him, right?
Wrong. There’s no Christmas twist. He’s just a dude.
As much as movies in the past fifty-six years have taught us to expect him to actually be Santa Claus, and as much as the family seems to suspect he’s actually Santa Claus, he’s not. He’s a homeless guy who’s squatting in the cabin.
It’s an oddly effective, if dated special. The family so desperately wants a magical Christmas that they have to project it onto somebody else. Intentional or not (probably not), it’s an interesting spin on the way people make the holidays all about themselves. Dad wants a traditional holiday, meaning the kind of Christmas he had as a kid. The kids want the kind of Christmas they like. What Mom wants isn’t important (it’s the ‘50s). And the homeless dude just wants to not be homeless (it’s America).
But in making the holiday about themselves, the family (and homeless dude) accidentally create a memorable Christmas for each other. And if that isn’t a sweet way to celebrate a semi-secular, quasi-selfish holiday, I don’t know what is.
Mike Drucker is a lovely man with many positive characteristics. He has written for Saturday Night Live, The Onion, McSweeney’s, and Nintendo. He’s also a stand-up or something, I guess.