'twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house,
the sound of Ant glugging back cans of Nat Ice.
Faith and I have just got back from watching The Polar Express; an exceptionally well-crafted, charming and magical film. It's rare that I venture to the cinema but we wanted to start a tradition.
Used to me being hard to please at such moments, Faith asked me if i'd enjoyed it. "Well", I said... "it was a shame there was so much Communist propaganda". And in forming an explanation, I cheered myself rather - here's why.
The Polar Express is a train that picks up children who've lost faith in Father Christmas, treating them to a fantasy journey to the North Pole. The North Pole is portrayed as a utopia. The city is imposing and industrial, indeed the brickwork reminded me of Manchester, the toy factory was what the Trafford Centre wants to be, and the "Town Hall" from which Santa appeared looked just like the Liver Building. In the film the children discover the central intelligence room where elves monitor the behaviour of all children: video screens display every child in the world, and fax machines express any "naughtiness". George Orwell, or a paedophile, would have loved the possibility.
All buildings homogenous, and populated with a mass of unvaryingly attired elves that were perfectly happy as equals, yet subordinate to their "master". Santa's entrance was the height of the film, the culmination of intense longing, his form only perceptable to "true believers". To great laudation he lived as master - as central planner - to the efforts of his elves. All of the North Pole, his operation, and Christmas itself, was the object of his own mind.
This version of society, was what Lenin intended.
So why were those kids on the train? At some point, they performed the most important gift we humans posses: to question what we've been told. And they'd decided that it is impossible for one man, on one night, to distribute presents to every child. They say to their parents "he'd need to travel beyond the speed of light", and "he'd need a sleigh the size of an ocean liner", and they'd be right - it can't be done!
Father Christmas doesn't exist because the process by which our presents appear is far more romantic. There is no great, benevolent dictator with an army of workers. Instead, the millions of mothers and fathers coordinate with each other, without even knowing each other, to make, distribute and exchange all of the toys in the world. The presents sat under my sparkling tree did not come from the icy idyll of the North Pole. They came from hundreds of different countries, and were produced by millions of different people.
So forget the Lapland utopia, for that is not of this world. Instead, rejoice at the best we can do. When we arrived back at the Krupnik Parlour a handsome parcel was waiting at the door, it's journey just as extraordinary as the Polar Express.
To those who read The Filter^: thank you, sincerely, and have a very Merry Christmas.