My wife is a 1st generation Persian-American, meaning her parents didn’t grow up with Christmas movies and dramas. So she missed out on a lot of traditional Christmas movies like “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” “Frosty the Snow Man,” “It’s A Wonderful Life,” “The Little Drummer Boy,” and, one of my favorites, “The Bishop’s Wife.” Even though, as a Muslim, I’m no longer enchanted by Christmas anymore, it was nice to re-discover some of these movies through older eyes, since I hadn’t seen a few in decades. I realized that most of them had themes that related to what’s often associated with Capricorn. Only fitting since Christmas happens during Capricorn season. Some were more obvious than others.
“The Bishop’s Wife,” speaks to that on a more subtle level, considering the leads are two Capricorn actors, Cary Grant and Loretta Young, in the original film. In the 1996 remake, “The Preacher’s Wife,” Dudley the angel is again played by Capricorn Denzel Washington. (It’s also noteworthy that the Capricorn angel’s assignment and foil, the Bishop/Preacher, were both played by Pisceans—David Niven in the original and Courtney Vance in the remake.
As for shared themes, let’s skip the most obvious one that they all talk about remembering that it’s Jesus birthday. Not all of them do it, but enough do.
Here are FOUR lessons:
1. Life is precious, so don’t waste it being angry. This is clear in “Rudolph,” “A Christmas Carol,” “Santa Claus is coming to town,” “The Little Drummer Boy,” and several others. Life can be long, as only Saturn, Capricorn’s planetary patron, can attest. Most of the things you could feel inclined to be pissed off about have changed, even if you haven’t. And if those things or people haven’t changed and you haven’t changed, then being pissed off hasn’t worked either. So you might as well let that go. I guess Christmastime is as good a time as any.
2. Appreciate yourself and your gifts as precious and unique. The messages in the stop-animation movies are continually that it’s okay to be different and unique. Now that may seem more an Aquarian theme, admittedly, but I think it works with Capricorn as they share a planetary patron, Saturn. I also think that the lesson isn’t so much about the gift, but having responsibility for that gift. That’s all Cappy, baby. You can and do something about the gift. You only have to find your place for it. And finding your place could come from hard work and breaking away from the pack like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree, or it might find you, like one Christmas eve when Santa comes to ask if you’ll lead his sleigh that night. But time and patience will render the perfect opportunity for you to share your gifts with the world.
3. Don’t confuse the essence of who you are with the way you narrate your story. Every single one of these dramas mess with time and plot on some level, whether it’s a time-traveling all in one night like Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol,” the alternate universe of George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” or the memory erase of Dudley the Angel in “The Bishop’s Wife.” Even the more modern tale, “A Christmas Story,” has the lead narrate a childhood story without revealing his present.
True to form, the planet Saturn, also named Chronos–Father Time–teaches that time is a matter of perception. In fact, Capricorn shows us a trick of perception with time. There are some Capricorns (and folks, in general) who feel that time is something that must be constantly managed and controlled to achieve their destiny. Not saying they’re wrong, because sometimes that happens—they manage their microseconds and achieve everything they want. Other kinds of folks and Capricorns, have to live long enough (and even that doesn’t always have to be long) for life to find them and unfurls their destiny and fame, like Dr. King or Zora Neale Hurston in due time. We can believe that we’re masters of time, but it’s more our perception that makes time seem like it’s our servant. What we’re really focusing on, as these Christmas dramas remind us, is that we live by our essence, not the tick-tock of the clock or how we see our lives in chronological order. However you project your essence, whether it’s like Scrooge to think that time’s money or the sum total of useless, nonsensical moments because you’re suicidal, like George Bailey, is up to you. But that may not be the real you. You can change your story and order of it to match your essence.
4. Know what you want and be ready to hold on to it.
Christmas/Capricorn season rolls around to remind us what’s important, especially since a lot of our true desires get buried through the years, not just the year. I was most intrigued by this lesson in “The Bishop’s Wife.” SPOILER ALERT!, in case you’re like my wife and haven’t seen it: The Bishop almost comes to blows with Dudley the Angel over his wife. Dudley smiles, saying his work is done, even though he had indeed fallen for the Bishop’s wife and thus had almost fallen as an angel. (I suppose Dudley even had a stirring of his own desire too.) Dudley reminds the Bishop that he had prayed for guidance, thinking what he truly desired was a cathedral. Dudley came to guide him toward his real desire: the love of his wife.
It’s interesting because Dudley does this for every character in the film, getting them to tap into their true and deepest buried desires. Like those characters, once that desire surfaces, then it can fly and become our destiny, if we let it. Christmas is a time to tap into that. A precious time to unwrap our real gifts that have been wrapped so lovingly by the Cosmos and to cherish who and what matters most as the best way to be present.
And here are some horoscopes to contemplate the season as well:
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