Lessons learned from “emmet otter’s jug-band christmas”
Each year when my b r o t h e r Jeremy and I exchange b i r t h d a y cards — his in October and mine in December — we’ve made a habit of writing the same postscript below each of our signatures: “P.S. I will explain about the wash tub and the tool chest when I return home late tonight.” Our private joke that’s been a tradition for more than three decades is a quote from one of our favorite Christmas specials, “Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas,” which first aired on HBO in 1977 and is difficult to find on television these days unless you own an old VHS tape or DVD.
There are many Christmas specials and movies I love to watch at this time of the year, including ”A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “The Muppet Christmas Carol.”They all convey lessons of love and goodwill and “Charlie Brown” even quotes Scripture, a rarity for secular Christmas specials.
“Emmet Otter” holds a special place in my heart. Based on the book by Russell and Lillian Hoban, it was produced by The Jim Henson Company and stars his Muppet creations in a story inspired by “The Gift of the Magi,” written by O. Henry. Emmet Otter and his Ma, reisdents of Frogtown Hollow, have no money for Christmas but each takes drastic measures to ensure they will have presents under the Christmas branch. (Yes, they don’t have enough money to afford an entire tree.)
The production values are top-notch, the songs are instantly catchy and the naturalistic- looking Muppets include otters as well as foxes, frogs and snakes. I’ve always thought the special just “looks” like Christmas. “Emmet Otter” teaches the importance of family and the priceless nature of love. Near the end of the special, during Waterville’s annual Christmas Eve talent show, Ma Otter sings a song titled “Our World” which I think truly embodies the spirit of Christmas: Some say our world is getting too small I say, with kindness, there’s room for us all Our world is always changing Every day’s a surprise
Love can open your eyes In our world I’m going to try to keep my own eyes open this Advent season as we make the journey to the manger to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.