This Week's Guest: Jonathan Renteria-Elyea
Growing up as in atheist home, December was the closest I ever came to having a religious experience -- not because of actual religion, but the beauty of the snow and gifting and carols and lights just overwhelmed and transported me, years before I had any inkling that there was any kind of churchy component.
My guest this week came to Christmas from the other side of the looking glass. Jonathan grew up in a deeply religious family, and similarly found himself swept up in the pageantry of the season. These days, he's distanced himself from the faith. And now Christmas has become spiritual for him in a far more personal way.
This Week's Recommendation: A Muppet Family Christmas
My recommendation this week is A Muppet Family Christmas, a somewhat overlooked Muppet special from 1987, in which the gang shows up unannounced at Fozzie's mom's house. And by the gang, I do mean everyone -- the Sesame Street characters come caroling, there's a hole in the wall that leads to Fraggle Rock, and at one point Sam the Eagle leans into frame to ask "why am I here?"
There is a pureness to the special that will be instantly recognizable to any fan, from casual to the most seasoned toughpig. This episode features real Muppet magic, not the pale imitations that the characters became in the 90s. And this Christmas special throws them all together in an irresistible alchemy. But beyond just being the perfect showcase for the characters, it's also a beautiful celebration of family, both biological and chosen. Fozzie's brought his weirdos home, and though his mom isn't sure what to make of them, she opens her doors and welcomes them with open arms.
And even if you're not physically near your family at this time of year, you're still surrounded with happy memories, stories, movies, songs -- whatever entertainment you love is a little capsule of the season, each one a little bond with someone else you can enjoy it with. So among the gifts you give at the end of this year, I hope you'll also give the gift of sharing the culture that gives you joy with the people who give you joy. Doing that on the Sewers of Paris has been my great pleasure, and I hope in the new year it can be yours as well.