Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Gift


Last night I got a little weepy, a combination of missing my parents and disappointment that we aren't going to San Francisco. I told Gary that to console myself, I want to see the new Narnia movie sometime this week. (We find 3D merely annoying, but have found theaters where it's playing in good old 2D.) I don't expect the film to be anywhere near as good as the book, but I read a review that said that this one's better than the other two, with more moral weight. I'm listening to an audiotape of Lewis' Surpised by Joy at the moment, so I'm in the mood.

I grew up on, and at least partly in, Narnia. My sister read me The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when I was pretty small, and I went on to devour the others on my own. I haven't reread the books for many decades now, although the boxed set my mother bought me when I was a child sits loyally on my bookshelves, but a typed copy of Puddleglum's famous quotation from The Silver Chair -- the long speech that concludes, "I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it" -- is taped above my desk.

I was completely smitten with Aslan when I was a kid, partly because he was such a great character and partly because I loved cats, big or small, anyway. I think I've written here before about how my own imaginary world, called "Aleia" (complete with maps, including the annexed territories of Narnia and Oz) was populated with my favorite characters from other stories, as well as a number of my own. Chief among the residents were Aslan and Elsa, the lioness from Born Free, who married, mated, and had litters of rollicking cubs.

My aunt and uncle went to Africa when I was a kid, and I begged my uncle to bring back a picture of a lion for me. I was grievously disappointed when he sent me a postcard of a lion: I'd wanted him to meet a lion, talk to it, and take a snapshot. A few years later, when I learned that the real-life Elsa had died some time before -- and I hadn't even known it -- I sobbed for days. It was my first taste of real grief.

In fifth grade, when my mother moved to a larger apartment and I was terrified over the move (have I mentioned that I was a strange, neurotic little girl?), Mom put a poster in my new room to reconcile me to the space. The poster was a large black-and-white photograph of a male lion with a tiny tabby kitten curled between its paws. I loved it.

I'm more than half-convinced that my immersion in the Narnia books made me a sleeper Christian decades before I ever dreamed of going to church. I'm sure C.S. Lewis would approve.

So, anyway. Last night I babbled about all of this to Gary for a while. An hour or so later, when we settled down to watch our current DVD -- the fourth season of The Tudors -- he came downstairs with a rolled-up poster and said, "Here. This is your Christmas gift." (Hours earlier, when we'd decided not to go to San Francisco, almost his first words were, "This doesn't mean we have to buy each other Christmas presents, does it?" We'd decided that the trip would be our gift to each other, and Gary loathes everything to do with the holiday.)

It's the poster of Aslan shown at the top of this post. Gary had snagged a free copy when he went to another movie, and had forgotten he had it until last night.

How perfect is that?

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous10:31 AM

    Dear Susan,

    What a stunning poster!

    And what a wonderful set of stories to go with it.

    For what it's worth, I just saw "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" last week, and I liked it quite a lot. It's not exactly like the book, of course, but the alterations have their own appeal. I won't say anything else until you've had a chance to see it yourself, but I'll be very curious to hear what you think.

    Wishing you a blessed last week of Advent,

    Love,

    Jean

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