This Week's Guest: Jose
Have you ever experienced a Christmas miracle? My guest this week has. His whole life, Jose longed to experience a magical snowy wonderland like he saw on American TV specials -- not exactly an easy thing to find in Venezuela, where the one snowball he ever saw was scraped together from a frosty puddle and carefully passed from person to person.
But that all changed on a on a trip to New York, where in the span of just a few days he went on his first date with a boy, grew closer to the dad he'd never really known, and found himself retracing the footsteps of Kevin in Home Alone 2.
This Week's Recommendation: Christmas at Pee Wee's Playhouse
In our conversation about strange 80s Christmas specials, we were remiss in leaving out one of the strangest... He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special. It is not my recommendation this week, because it is almost an hour long and really not good. But I do recommend looking up the one scene where Skeletor has to escort two children and a cute animal to safety, and argues with them about whether fights are fun.
My real recommendation this week is for something that is actually good, and that is Christmas at Pee Wee's Playhouse. It's my favorite holiday special -- chaotic and weird and unpredictable, it features unmitigated cheer, a strangely relaxed Cher, hunky construction workers, and surprise guests emerging delighted from boxes like visiting angels.
Although its origins are religious, the rules for celebrating Christmas certainly have changed over the years, which is why we no longer celebrate with Yule goats. And the changeable, mystifying, bizarre fun of Pee Wee's special is, I think, the best encapsulation of what makes Christmas great: a time to gather together with people you love, to practice some silly ancient rituals, and to invent new traditions that, if they're fun, can be continued from year to year.
Because Christmas isn't frozen in time -- it's a party that for hundreds of years has been growing, evolving, and in Pee Wee's case, rapidly mutating.