Thanksgiving morning a few weeks ago I went to see the new Muppet Movie with most of my family. I cried at the end of it. There. I got it out. Now I can go on with the rest of my life and this blogpost.
You're probably wondering why a proper personality as cosmopolitan and experienced (notice I didn't say “manly”) as the Mormon Third Eye would break down into tears watching a glamorous puppet show. After all, that's all they are, right? Puppets infused by the creative genius of man with cleverly animated personas; a mild-mannered frog politely in charge of an obnoxious diva piggy singer, a wisecracking bear comic, a monster drummer with definite anger management issues, and much, much, more. Not to say the movie itself wasn't outstanding. It was. It's been a long time since I've seen such ingenious G-rated humor on the big screen- probably since the last Muppet movie 15 years ago with much younger children. Nevertheless, there was no clear reason for leaving the theater in tears.
What readers don't realize, however, that this was not a typical Thanksgiving day morning. Instead of counting my blessings and looking forward to a day of ruthless trash-talking monopoly games and enriching and engaging dialogue and activities with extended family somewhere else on the globe, I was home alone pouting counting my problems with just an invalid teenage daughter who hadn't left the house in months and an overworked wife. I myself was resolved to just make it through the day on the way to a more meaningful Christmas season, hopefully. Luckily, of all the Thanksgiving day traditions I didn't want to trouble myself with this year, going to the movies was not one of them.
The Muppet movie slowly transformed us. Why? Because growing up as a dutiful young Dad, that was one television show we watched and bonded with together. It was the currency of humor in our little family. I couldn't stomach Barney the purple dinosaur, and I could barely endure the Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; however, there was mutual worship and enjoyment of hairy wild animal rock bands, dancing dinner fruit, and puppet chickens shooting out of cannons. The sheer silliness was spellbinding. When we were watching and talking about the Muppets, we were family.
About halfway through the movie I figured this out and my traditional Thanksgiving day hormones kicked in. Suddenly I was grateful for a Father in Heaven who blessed me with such a wonderful family that enjoyed life so thoroughly. Combine that with a intentionally superficially melodramatic story about saving the Muppet theater from being torn down by an “eville” oil baron, and my heart began to melt. By the time of grand song-and-dance finale, I was thoroughly softened, but still holding it in.
Then it happened. When the closing credits started rolling a collage of random characters sang the strangely intoxicating and completely senseless “Mahna-mahna” song, and I was pushed beyond my breaking point; tears of joy and gratitude bubbled forth. For many years now, “mahna-mahna” had been the secret silly cover-phrase between me and my daughter for “I love you, I care about you”, and all other related real sentiments. It's just too hard to keep the tears back when you mix the Muppets with treasured family memories, extraordinary expressions of love, and the most thankful day of the year.