Making the Grades
Just as classic as Virginia's question "Is there really a Santa Claus?" is the 1947 black and white movie, Miracle On 34th Street. If, like Virginia, your children have asked this question, then this delightful tale may capture the essence of the jolly old man whose appearance is so eagerly anticipated each December.
Mrs. Walker (Maureen O'Hare) is anxious to find a new Santa when she discovers the man she hired to play the part in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is too intoxicated to even get on the float. Noticing an elderly gentleman (Edmund Gwenn) with a genuine set of whiskers in the crowd, she promptly offers him the job. He proves so convincing that she asks him to continue in the role and be the department store's Santa. But she regrets her hasty decision when she learns that her new employee calls himself (and really believes he is) Kris Kringle.
Since the day she was divorced by her own prince charming, Mrs. Walker has not believed in fairy tales and has carefully taught her daughter Susan (Natalie Wood) to be just as skeptical. But when their neighbor Mr. Gailey (John Payne) takes Susan to meet Santa while they are waiting for her mother to finish work, Mr. Kringle's charm catches the young girl completely off guard.
Susan is not the only one who is confused about Mr. Kringle's true identity. The fact is, a little of his sparkle seems to be wearing off on almost everyone he associates with--except for Macy's staff psychologist who believes the old man is delusional, and has him thrown into a mental institution. With his sanity in question, Mr. Kringle must face a court hearing, where the state of New York will decide if there really is a Santa Claus.
With a twinkle of hope and a dash of faith, this warm and fuzzy film has become a Christmas tradition for many families. But, if you have not yet had to answer those awkward queries regarding the authenticity of that midnight visitor, you may want to wait a few years before sharing it with your little ones.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Miracle On 34th Street (1947).
Mrs. Walker feels very strongly that her daughter should not believe in fairy tales or myths. If you enjoyed this movie, it is a safe bet that you don’t completely agree with her. What purpose or role do you feel these stories or characters should play?
This film (like many fairy tales) may imply that wishing for something, and believing hard enough, is all that is required to make dreams come true. Why isn’t that true in real life?