As I was writing yesterday about the memories jogged by the music of Sleigh Ride, I realized that I think the reason that memory is jogged for me is not because of the obvious correlation between the song and riding on a horse-drawn trailer. Because when I think of the song, and that trip to the tree farm (for the many trips to the tree farm are conflated in my memory into one) I am actually put in mind of the Muppet Family Christmas.
I think the reason for that is that on one of those trips, my dad had a new company car (he works for GM) that was one of those early models of car with the TVs in the back seat, and I remember watching our old tape of the Muppet Family Christmas on the way to the tree farm. This image of Big Bird sticks out in my memory. And of course, one of the songs in that 1987 TV special was Sleigh Ride (with slightly altered lyrics — “it’s lovely weather for a bear and a snowman like you!”).
Thinking about that while writing yesterday’s post, I searched YouTube for that song, and discovered the entire special online. And so I watched it. Ah, memories.
It occurred to me as well that that special may have been almost my only real exposure to the Muppets. I watched a ton of Sesame Street. And at some point we had the Muppet movies The Muppet Christmas Carol from 1992 and Muppet Treasure Island from 1996 (still one of my favourites). But I’m too young to have actually seen the Muppet TV show, and I don’t think I’ve seen the other Muppet movies either.
And yet, just watching the Muppet Family Christmas over again this weekend made me realize: not only must it have contributed somewhat to the development of my sometimes-strange sense of humour (my goodness, that whole special is hilarious) but it also contributed a lot to our family dialect.
My family’s always been close, and it has occurred to me sometimes in the last few years, especially when exposing friends to my family, what that has meant for the way we communicate. I think this is likely true of most families, but we tend to have a lot of very specific references we make in conversation constantly, whether it’s breaking into certain songs or quoting certain movies or books.
Carrying heavy things into the house in the winter almost always elicits a warning of “Careful of the icy patch!” So ingrained is that TV special into our family’s psyche.
I wasn’t going to include any Muppet music on this list, but I find I have to. There’s one song that I particularly like from the Muppet Family Christmas, which is actually the opening song to the show. My first year away from home for university, it started playing through my head in late November and wouldn’t let up until I went home for the holidays, for it captures the excitement I felt, the need to be surrounded by family once again, the joy Christmas brings. “For we need a little music, need a little laughter, need a little singing ringing through the rafters.”
Since it opens the show, I’ll just give you part 1 of the hour-long show — and encourage you to watch the rest.
(It’s worth giving the Muppets a few other honourable mentions. Check out most of the rest of the music from that show, but especially their rendition of Jingle Bell Rock, which is the only one I’ll listen to (and, in that family dialect tradition, whenever I hear another version of Jingle Bell Rock, I always add Animal’s “That’s the jingle bell rock!” myself at the end).
The Muppets also more recently did a number of music videos on YouTube, including Carol of the Bells, which hilariously features Beaker, the Swedish Chef, and Animal.
My goodness, I really have to go see the new movie.)