Each December, Christmas is celebrated by many people in their own way. For the most part, these celebrations include attending parties, buying gifts, visiting friends and family, or participating in a church service. For those adults who are nostalgic, they will think back to Christmases from their childhoods. Pleasant memories surface of receiving unique gifts or partaking in family dinner traditions. When it comes to the present, however, the desire to experience a ‘perfect’ Christmas tends to cause stress and frustration in many adults.
The 1963 NFB animated short Christmas Cracker is a fascinating look at Christmas from childhood and adult perspectives. Directed by Jeff Hale, Norman McLaren, Grant Munro and Gerald Potterton, this nine minute animated film is made up of three smaller shorts: two paper cut-out dolls dance to “Jingle Bells”, a group of wind-up toys clown around with each other, and a man attempts to find the best star to adorn the top of his Christmas tree. Watch the short below:
Christmas Cracker was fun and relaxing to watch. The dancing cut-outs had a child-like creativity and innocence to it. The wind-up toys were reminders of Christmas toys from simpler times, especially the days before electronic toys came on the scene. The man’s quest for a Christmas tree star could be viewed as a commentary on how hard we try to make our Christmas celebrations flawless and that it’s OK if things don’t turn out exactly how we want them to.
The title is perhaps a nod to Christmas crackers that are a traditional game in Canadian and other Commonwealth countries. Christmas crackers look like large wrapped candies and are constructed with cardboard paper tubes covered with coloured paper. Two people pull at the cracker until it snaps open, revealing the contents inside such as candies or small toys. In a way, watching the short was like opening a Christmas cracker with these three charming animated stories appearing on the screen for everyone to delight in.
Christmas Cracker has a warm feeling to it with messages that still resonate since it was made over 50 years ago. Through its animation, pace and humour, it has the ability to lower stress levels and bring you back to Christmases of days gone by. If it isn’t already a classic Canadian Christmas cartoon short, it should be. Enjoy!