It seems like overkill that the #1 movie in theaters this past weekend, according to the New York Times’ ArtsBeat, is titled “Frozen.” This new Disney film, which critics and children alike believe will become a classic, earned $134.3 million in its first two weeks of box office release.
With local temperatures hovering around or below zero (and more frigid days in the forecast), plus a wintry southwest Minnesota landscape that rivals the set of “Dr. Zhivago,” haven’t we had enough “Frozen” in real life without immersing ourselves in a fantasy world of perpetual winter?
Apparently not. The tale of two princesses–one of whom can freeze people, places and things with a simple gesture, the other of whom needs to be saved from dying of her frozen heart–has captured the imagination and affection of many moviegoers.
Frostbitten fingers, numbed-up toes, chilly hands and icy noses–these are things most Minnesotans can relate to or may have experienced at one time or another during the winters of our lives. Frozen hearts, however, present a more serious level of danger altogether than frosty limbs.
On the face of it, maintaining a cold heart in this season of loving and giving might seem to be harder than succumbing to the warmth and goodwill that often prevail prior to Christmas. But there are those among us who nevertheless resist, refusing to support or even empathize with those less fortunate than themselves. Some decline to join in the carols or hang lights, or are quicker to dispense an angry honk or shaking fist at a slow-moving motorist than a holiday greeting.
A confession: some years, I am among those who fight the wave of Christmastide, feeling ill-prepared for the onslaught of cookies, candles and cards–both those flowing my way and those I’m supposed to produce for the benefit of my home, friends and family.
Or how does one get in the spirit of the season while mourning the earthly loss of a loved one, worrying over the health of a family member, puzzling over a job loss and lack of new employment or recovering from a breakup or conflict with a sweetheart?
The answer to those questions is not easily discovered, but this year my own reluctant heart has been guided to a warmer place with the encouragement of an over-achieving Secret Santa. Tasked with giving two $1-value gifts over the course of two weeks, followed by a culminating $5 item the week immediately prior to Christmas, the enthusiast who happened to draw my name has made me the envy of others at the Daily Globe.
When reminded of the Secret Santa guidelines by those observing the frequent and dramatic drop-offs, my bubbly giver reportedly responded, “But I just LOVE Christmas!” The presents keep coming–packages of Twizzlers, peppermint Chapstick, nail polish for my “mistletoes”–and I’ve unwittingly hit the jackpot of ho-ho-ho’ers.
Giving must make my Secret Santa as happy as receiving, and imagining his/her glee (though I suspect it’s a Mrs. Claus) at my reaction to the unexpected treats can’t help but elicit a smile, even as I feel most unworthy of the attention. (A minister might point out, “That’s grace.”) Such generosity also prompts me to do a little something extra for my Secret Santa recipient, and to consider more carefully the actions I make toward others this month; a “pay it forward” mentality results.
Whatever it takes to keep hearts thawing rather than icing over is to be commended, and a sensitivity to the various states of mind and being that surround us is also useful–because not everyone may be in the same “happy place” you are blessed to find yourself.
In “Frozen,” the princesses Anna and Elsa finally learn that only acts of true love can melt frozen hearts. That knowledge is the key to their ultimate happiness and personal contentment.
We may not be able to warm up the weather, but thoughtfulness, generosity and forgiveness can go a long way toward making December a little less icy for all of us.