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Daily Helping for December 24th, 2020 – The Polar Express

An image of a train engine from the front cover of the book The Polar Express.

Yes, I am absolutely breaking my rules for today’s helping. This is not the first time I have read The Polar Express, nor is this my first experience with Chris Van Allsburg’s work. But it is December 24th and I am spending the holidays alone, so I’m bending the rules just a bit.

This is because for as long as I can remember, Christmas Eve always ended the same way. After dinner was finished and a Christmas movie was watched, we would put out milk and cookies for Santa, hang our stockings, and get out a bell. The keeper of the bell alternated year to year between family members, because it was a very important prop, and therefore the honour was to be shared among us. Once the bell was ready, we would pop in a cassette tape (yes I’m that old) and listen to a recording of The Polar Express.

This was the last thing we would do before going to bed on Christmas Eve when I was growing up. And this hasn’t changed in the many years since I stopped putting out milk and cookies for Santa. Whether I’m with family or alone in my apartment, every December 24th, right before I go to sleep, I listen to The Polar Express. Specifically, the version narrated by William Hurt that I was delighted to discover on YouTube several years ago. At this point, I could recite every single cadence of this recording by heart.

This has been a difficult year for a lot of people. And now, if you’re celebrating holidays, you’re probably celebrating them in a way you never have before. Socially distanced. With just your household. Alone. Personally, I will be on my own tonight, but I will not be alone. Because just before I go to sleep, I’m going to listen to The Polar Express, bell in hand. And somehow, for the next 12 minutes, everything will be okay.

Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!