True fact: I have loved Sesame Street longer than I have loved anyone or anything in my life except my own parents, who got to me only slightly sooner than Bert and Ernie. I sometimes think loving Sesame Street is the thing that first taught me what it felt like to connect with stories and characters that are simultaneously not real and also the most real. That's the transformative paradox of fiction, and it's come to define my life as an adult in ways I couldn't have known about when I was rushing home from kindergarten to see Maria and Luis get married on Gordon and Susan's rooftop.*
In tribute to this love that has lasted long and stayed true, I started a tradition when I was in college called Muppet December. Every week in December, I watch one of the Muppet Christmas specials and use them as little moments of quiet in the last month of the year. There are many to choose from - Christmas Eve on Sesame Street from 1979, A Muppet Family Christmas from 1987, and A Muppet Christmas Carol from 1992 are a few of my favorites.
But this year, somehow, December has gone by quick and rapid fire. The days have been full with lots of weighty projects and questions that need attention and energy and take up big swaths of mental space. The Muppet holiday specials haven't made it into the schedule.
This morning I woke up with a to do list. One of the long ones that doesn't bother with the smaller stuff and just goes right to the big, vaguely self-flagellating things like "figure out how to make the rest of my life work." I ran through the list in my head in the shower and by the time I got out, it felt like even the time it would take to get dressed and out the door to my coffee shop was time I didn't have.
I was so far inside my own head as I pulled on my clothes that I didn't even notice Javi was watching TV until I heard a tiny monster voice say, "These cookies are for Santa Claus."**
Me: Are you watching Elmo?
JV: It's Elmo Saves Christmas.
Pause while I absorbed the totally matter-of-fact tone he used when he said this, and my frenzied heart swelled that I married this person who would casually watch Elmo Saves Christmas in Spanish in the middle of the day. I got so, so lucky on that one.
JV: Want to watch? I could start it over.
Me: I gotta get to work.
I kept up the crazy pace of my morning, shoving my computer into my bag and tossing my power cord and phone charger on top of it. Where are my headphones?
Elmo: Hi Rosita.
Rosita: Hi Elmo. I have a Christmas present for you.
Elmo: What is it?
I think it was the kiss sound effect that did it. That's all it took. Javi and Jim Henson and Kevin Clash. Those puckish, high-pitched voices chilled the frenzy right out, and I stayed home. Eventually I got to the coffee shop and the to do list, but first I put my pajamas back on and watched 47 minutes of Sesame Street with Javi. And the morning that had been about all the ways I should get my shit together, ended up being mostly about a red monster puppet on an adventure with a reindeer, a hilarious It's a Wonderful Life reference and Maya Angelou...
Muppet December may have started a little late this year, but I think it's officially begun.
*You can actually watch that entire episode here: Maria and Luis's Wedding. You're welcome.
**Technically he said, "Estas galletas son para Santa Claus." Elmo does his own Spanish language dubbing.
P.S. For a bit more on Muppet December, you can also check my holiday guest post for Idle Hands DC.