Thursday, December 9, 2010

When It Comes to Christmas Specials & Movies, Moms Often Get the Backseat

I was looking through the family’s Christmas DVD collection last week when something occurred to me, other than Doris Walker (Maureen O’Hara) from Miracle on 34th Street and maybe Mrs. Parker from A Christmas Story, moms are pretty much in the background in Christmas-themed movies and TV specials.

Nearly all the DVDs we owned had either no parents (like on Frosty the Snowman) or featured the kids or the dad more prominently . . . which led to this column over on Mommy Tracked this week.

The strongest, most independent-minded moms in my Christmas DVD collection:

Doris Walker, Miracle on 34th Street: Doris Walker was a divorced, single mom living in New York City and running the country’s largest, most high-profile parade, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. She took no guff, thrived professionally and was a supportive mom to her daughter Susan. Of course being disillusioned romantically by divorce made her a tad overzealous about her reluctance to give her daughter magic and sparkle in her life, but hey, she was trying to do the best thing for her kid, so I cut her some slack on that. (Plus, she came around in the end.)

Mrs. Parker, A Christmas Story: Mrs. Parker showed a whole lotta chutzpah throughout the film. No doormat, she (though she really deserved to be able to eat a hot meal without being interrupted). When her hot tempered husband “won” that horrific fishnet stocking-covered leg lamp with half a butt cheek hanging out and he insisted on putting it on display in their front window -- completely clueless that the lamp, described by the film’s narrator as “electric sex,” might be offensive to his modestly dressed wife – Mrs. Parker took matters into her own hands by “accidentally” knocking it over while watering her plants. I personally loved the fantastic scene of Mrs. Parker quietly snickering in the background as her husband tried to glue his pathetic leg lamp back together.

The moms who were off to the side, accessories to their men or families in the Christmas specials/movies I have at my house:

Mary Bailey, It’s a Wonderful Life: It’s a Wonderful Life is one of my all time favorite movies  -- Yes, I’m an unabashed sentimentalist – so this observation about Mary Bailey isn’t a slight against the film, just an observation. This movie is focused on George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) examining his disappointments, dreams, good heart, loyalty and desperation. His wife, Mary, (Donna Reed) was sharp, had a sense of humor and seemed eminently capable at everything she did, never appearing flustered even when George had a temper tantrum in front of her and three of their four children. But other than that flirty stroll they took while wearing stolen football gear singing “Buffalo Gals,” Mary was largely relegated to the backburner. The scene where George learned what would’ve happened to her had he never been born slays me because both hhe and Clarence are horrified that she was a single librarian.

Emily Hobbs, Elf: Sure, she ate spaghetti drenched in maple syrup so as not to hurt her stepson's feelings, but in this movie where Will Farrell's Buddy the Elf and his long lost father James Caan's Walter Hobbs were the focal point, Emily Hobbs was just a nice lady whose job it was to soften up her husband.

Mother Nature, The Year Without a Santa Claus: When push came to shove, Mother Nature came through for Mrs. Claus and cracked down on her two "nasty little boys," the Snow Miser and the Heat Miser, but she was only allotted a cameo appearance. (Go to 3:47 on the video below.)

Rudolph’s Mom called “Mrs. Donner,” Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: She was the only one of authority who had anything reasonable to say when it was learned that Rudolph had a red nose. “He’s got a shiny nose!” she said. “. . . Well, we’ll simply have to overlook it.” However she was overruled by her husband Donner and after that initial scene shortly after Rudolph’s birth, viewers didn’t hear from Mrs. Donner again, though she was almost eaten by the Bumble.

Any other moms from Christmas specials/movies who stood out or faded into the background?

1 comment:

Belle said...

I liked Tea Leoni in "The Family Man." This is my favorite Christmas movie. I love how it shows that love and family are more important than being rich and having everything.