One of the wondrous things about the Internet is its ability to conjure up the ghosts of the past, and in this case the animated ghosts of Christmas Past. We can connect with long-forgotten memories that upon retrospect we see contributed to our psyches. One such example is the CBS production of J.T. (1969), which I write about elsewhere on Aeolus 13 Umbra (click on link for article and film). In J.T.’s case, while I had forgotten the title, I remembered the story and doggedly searched for the film on the Internet. Sometimes, however, we encounter our forgotten past in moments of pure serendipity, as in the case of two brief animated films by American animator R.O. Blechman. These shorts are thirty and sixty seconds long each and first aired on CBS in 1966 during the holiday season (see films below).
I had forgotten these two little gems until I ran across them purely by accident while researching animated Christmas films from my youth. In these simple messages of giving to animals, the ecology, and the poor, Blechman reminds us of the essential Spirit of Christmas without being pedantic or thumping a bible. Indeed, these are universal and timeless messages of compassion and giving that go beyond commercial illustration and into the realm of true artistic expression. A thirty or sixty second commercial is a tight time frame to be profound, sublime, and subtle all at once, but Blechman nails it each time.
Discovering these animated shorts brought back a rush of pleasant, and sometimes not-so-pleasant, Christmas memories. While some may decry the commercialization of Christmas — and to a large degree I agree — commercialization can bring little moments of beauty and art to a big audience. If in all the social static and rush that comes with mass marketing in the holiday season we still get these simple human expressions of compassion and kindness during the harshest time of the year, when want is felt more keenly by those in need, it may not be so bad after all. CBS would do themselves and all of us well to include these little masterpieces every year with their holiday programming.