I miss Sparkle and Twinkle. Years ago–well, not really that long ago, seeing that time is relative–I told my daughter stories about Sparkle and Twinkle, twin elves who lived in Santa’s house at the North Pole. It sounds so simple when I say it that way, but we had a mythos equal to Tolkien’s Middle Earth before Sparkle and Twinkle went into cold storage. My daughter was about three the year I started creating the story cycle; the stories lasted for six or seven years beyond that, I think. I even published a column in the Lima News requesting that Lima respect the fragile belief in the impossible and unlikely in hopes that she–and other kids tottering on the precipice of unbelief–might have one more year of magic.
But Sparkle and Twinkle are gone, and a sense of wonderment and enchantment has sauntered away with them. It’s so easy to be mired in logic, to scoff and debunk. We live in an age, in a society, where the magical is scientific: my phone can do things Thomas Edison, Ben Franklin and Alexander Graham Bell couldn’t even imagine, and my memories are safely digitized, filtered through pixels.
For years, my first Christmas music of the season–AFTER Thanksgiving–has been my ancient John Denver and the Muppets Christmas cd. I take a lot of flak about that from the Denver-grinches around me (and, yep, I invite it). But there’s a method to my madness, a logic in my search for the illogical: John Denver’s joy and wonder and wacky-optimistic-beliefs come through to me in the music. I once saw Frank Oz and Jim Henson (Muppet creators) interviewed about why they worked so often with John Denver; they recounted how even during meetings with the Muppets and their creators, Denver repeatedly addressed Kermit and Fozzie and the gang directly as well as talking to Oz and Henson. The Muppeteers jokingly considered whether someone needed to explain to Denver that Kermit was, in fact, a puppet, not “real.” Many stars who worked with the Muppets had a difficult time talking to the Muppets even in character; they were so acutely aware that they were “playing pretend.” In John Denver’s world, though….magic was real. Sure, Kermit needed Jim Henson to talk and move, but the essence of Kermit, was….well….Kermit.
I want to accept what’s logical but seek the impossible–with a sense of wonderment and openness and joy, of course. There’s a virtue in being able to drop the veneer of reason to seriously imagine Sparkle and Twinkle as teen elves; there’s a solace and joy in making the theologically analytical voices in my head stop long enough to smile at the thought of Grandma finally getting to be under the mistletoe with Grandpa, after a long, patient wait.
But this is a rough era for magic, for belief. Angels and elves alike are dissected on the altar of knowledge and denounced from the podium of facts.
One of my favorite poems–slightly Christmas-themed, Evelyn Waugh’s Prayer to the Magi, seems a fitting close to my homage to Muppets, Elves, and belief:You are my especial patrons, and patrons of all latecomers, of all who have a tedious journey to make to the truth, of all who are confused with knowledge and speculation, of all who through politeness make themselves make themselves partners in guilt, of all who stand in danger by reason of their talents. For his sake who did not reject you, pray always for the learned, the oblique, the delicate. Let them not be quite forgotten when the simple come into their kingdom.
Evelyn Waugh, Helena
And with that—Merry Christmas.