In the dream, I was sent away from my home. I wasn’t wanted anymore. I wasn’t given the option to pack. The house disappeared as soon as I looked over my shoulder. There was nothing to be seen in any direction. Moonlight shone through spindly, leafless trees and sparkled on the muddy clay ground. I saw no path, no clearing, so I just walked straight ahead, toward the moon.
I came to a road, but there was no sign or suggestion that there was shelter in either direction, no light on the horizon that would indicate a city or street lights. My shoes were caked with mud. I scraped them off a bit and started walking down the road.
Miserable, cold and on the verge of collapsing, I came to an old country store. It had a light on inside but it was closed, and I couldn’t tell what time it was; seems like I had been walking for days, but the sun hadn’t come up. The sky hadn’t changed at all. I hadn’t seen a single car.
Weighing the likelihood that I’d freeze to death if I didn’t get inside, I broke a window and let myself in. I went back to the bathroom to wash up, figured I’d use a phone thereafter, but when I looked at myself in the mirror over the sink, I couldn’t see my face. It was like I had been staring at the sun and my eyes hadn’t readjusted, a black shadow floated in front of me where my face should have been. I could feel my jaw, my whiskers with my hand; I just couldn’t see my face.
After washing up, I went to look for a phone, but I was confronted by a man with a flashlight. I tried to explain that I was lost and cold and needed help, but the man didn’t say anything. He just stood there, silhouetted by the moonlight.
I woke up on the floor, with a terrible headache from a heavy blow. The police were there, and I was being arrested for robbing the little store. It was a terrible ordeal. I had no personal information, no family to call on, no friends, so I was held over in the jail.
A man came to me at one point. I thought he was my lawyer. He said everything was going to be OK, he said they didn’t have any proof and I’d be free as soon as we could get a judge to hear my case. I never told him anything about what had happened, but I was so relieved!
He asked me why I was in that store. It seemed like an afterthought. I told him about the long night and my slogging through the mud and how I needed shelter.
When I looked up at him, after I told him my story, I couldn’t see his face anymore. It was like I had been staring at the sun again, and I could only see things in the periphery of my focus. I didn’t say anything then, but when he left, he never came back, and I never got to see a judge or anybody else ever again.
I ran across an article recently that attempted to divide all Christmas movies into five categories. There were “Misfit” movies, like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (1964); “Santa Claus is Real” movies, like “The Miracle on 34th Street” (1947); and “Angels are Real” movies, like “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946) and “The Bishop’s Wife” (1947). There were also historical dramas involving the real life of Christ, like “Ben Hur” (1959, 1925, etc.).
The most compelling category, as far as I was concerned, was “Homecomings,” which included “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story” (1971, the basis of the television series “The Waltons”). The writer extended this theme to include the reversal of “Home Alone” (1990).
One of my favorite Christmas movies is “Remember the Night” (1940), which was written by Preston Sturges. This small, dramatic/romantic comedy stars Barbara Stanwyck as a shoplifter who gets arrested a few nights before Christmas and spends the holiday week with a soft-hearted young prosecutor, played by Fred MacMurray. It features a literal homecoming as the pair travel to Indiana to spend Christmas with MacMurray’s family, but the figurative homecoming in the resolution is much more cathartic.
For further exploration: I wonder how “The Shop Around the Corner” (1940) would be categorized?