What follows is from Griefbacon, the great email newsletter from writer Helena Fitzgerald. It’s ostensibly about why the movie “The Lion In Winter” is a great Christmas movie, but it is really about love and family and relationships.
“The Lion in Winter doesn’t really take place in the 12th century, any more than a stripper dressed up as a fireman can really save you from a fire. It takes place in 1968, and it takes place right now. It takes place in this week of this year, and this week of last year and next year, too, as crowds gather at train stations and airports, as cars clog up the highways between the cities and the suburbs to drive the interstate backward from adulthood to childhood. It takes place in every home where someone is setting the table, in every grocery store where someone is standing in line, in every apartment where a new couple is anxiously getting ready to host one or both of their parents, and in every group chat where siblings are resentfully double-tapping heart and “haha” reactions.
In a castle in France in 1183, where indoor heating hasn’t yet been invented, a bunch of family members, all of whom are to one degree or another estranged, gather for Christmas dinner, to bring up old grudges, and whine behind one another’s backs. We hate people and we love them at the same time, we have the same arguments and we don’t resolve anything, we’re vicious and petty to the people in our families and nothing comes out of it except agreeing to do it all again next year.
If the only thing that keeps us alive sometimes is spite, well, maybe there’s a romance to that too. Love is the haunted house that costs forty dollars but guarantees that you’ll die. We show up to the arcade again in the sunlight of whatever next day comes, scrubbed clean of the blood from the night before, ready to get our hearts smashed up by the people we have loved the longest, even if that’s just ourselves, feeling so lucky to get one more chance at it. We love people and we die of it, but it’s also what keeps us alive.”