People often ask me why I love Disneyland so much. They want to know why I am so interested in Walt. When did this start? How did this all begin?
Despite going by the name “Dr. Disneyland,” I do not hold a doctorate degree in all things Disney. My Ph.D. is actually in New Testament Studies. My doctoral dissertation focused on narrative criticism and how the Bible uses story to help us live a better story.
And that’s the connection.
Walt Disney didn’t want to be remembered for Mickey Mouse, Snow White, or even Disneyland. He wanted us to remember him as a storyteller. In fact, he built Disneyland for the purpose of telling stories. Stories that I believe are challenging each of us to go out and live our own, great story.
The story of Christmas is one of the world’s best stories. Since 1958, Disneyland has been sharing the Christmas story with guests via its Candlelight Processional. Today, the Candlelight Processional is one of Disney’s oldest and most beloved traditions. Each year, guests try to guess who will narrate the Christmas story—a story found in the 2nd chapter of the Gospel of Luke in the Christian New Testament.
In the spirit of Christmas, I want to share with you one of the earliest stories I ever wrote. This comes from the 1990s when I was a pastor in Sonoma, CA and wrote a regular article for the local newspaper, The Sonoma Index Tribune.
I Miss Humpty Dumpty
I miss Humpty Dumpty. Not the nursery rhyme, I got over the clumsy egg’s unenviable fate years ago. No, I miss Humpty Dumpty the light switch cover. Let me guess, you never had a Humpty Dumpty light switch cover? So many people live such deprived lives.
I was three years old, Christmas 1966, and when it came to the American idea of Christmas, I was not yet clear on the concept. Some might say I was as confused as Adam and Eve on Mother’s Day.
I awoke that Christmas morning and found a family filled with expectations. You could feel the excitement. The anticipation was palpable. The blessed morning had finally arrived, and no one was going to be disappointed.
As we made our way to the living room, I made a horrible discovery. This wasn’t my house! This was the Mall! I had never seen so much stuff.
Suddenly, I was lost in a myriad of toys, packages, wrapping paper and Hickory Farms knick-knacks. Feeling overwhelmed, I selected one gift, a Humpty Dumpty light switch cover, and retreated to the sanctuary of my own room.
It was a short-lived peace.
Soon other family members came pouring in wanting to know what was “wrong” with me. Wrong? I had made my choice and was delighted with it. Humpty and I were already tight.
It was then that I was informed that Christmas was not just one present. Christmas was lots of presents! Enlightened, I was led back to the festivities and into the world of high holiday expectations.
Today, I want the gifts. Lots of gifts. And toys. Big, expensive toys. It is an interesting phenomenon. With each passing Christmas I find myself desiring more and more and, in effect, liking the whole affair less and less. I miss Humpty Dumpty, and the childlike approach to Christmas he represents for me.
It wasn’t meant to be this way. Sure there were expectations that first Christmas Day, but the expectations were centered on the One True Gift. The gift of the Christ child. Our failure to realize this obscures the simple beauty and genuine nature of the Advent event.
In essence, our disappointments around Christmas are a product of our own creation. In our giving of gifts we have missed The Gift itself.
My prayer this year is that we will all work on healing our shattered expectations. Remember, in the case of Humpty Dumpty, “All the king’s horses and all the king’s men,” simply couldn’t help.
When it comes to fixing you and me, maybe Christmas is the time for us to look toward the King Himself.
Merry Christmas. And may God bless Everyone.
“I’m a storyteller. Of all the things I’ve ever done, I’d like to be remembered as a storyteller.”