When I was a kid, the broadcast of certain TV “specials” was, well, really very special. The Wizard of Oz was shown once a year, near Halloween. A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas could be seen just once and only once a year. They became landmark events in the lives of us children of the 1960s.
In the days running up to the airing of any of these shows, everybody at school would be buzzing. The day after, we’d all compare notes about our favorite parts, our favorite characters, our favorite lines.
The evening of, we’d all gather with our families in front of the TV set, turn the dial to the right channel (ABC, NBC, or CBS), adjust the rabbit ears, and watch, rapt, hanging on every word, every scene.
I am far from the first to comment on this phenomenon, nor am I the first or only one to lament the loss of that singular, communal, we’re-all-on-the-same-page-at-once experience. With the advent of the Internet and cable and YouTube and endless streaming of everything, the fact that any two people end up watching the same show at the same moment is incredible. Hence the sensation that is Tiger King.
But, Tiger King aside, in a very real way, we are, whether we understand or acknowledge or choose to honor it, sharing a globally communal moment right now. It’s no Christmas cartoon, for sure, though certain elements are reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz. But if ever all of humanity has been in pretty much the same boat all at once, now’s the time.
I wonder, though, whether we’ve moved beyond our capacity to recognize, enjoy, appreciate, or even desire communal experience. Oh, I know: we all want to commune with one another again on some level, as soon as we can, at restaurants and beaches and live concerts and all that. But those are localized communal experiences. (And I, for the record, can’t wait!)
Maybe you have to be exactly my age to remember and yearn for that we’re-all-on-the-same-page-at-once feeling (which, I acknowledge, might not have been quite as idyllic or universal as I recall). But, gosh, what I wouldn’t give for just a few minutes, maybe the amount of time it takes Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang to learn the true meaning of Christmas, or for Hermey to tame the Bumble, for us all, everyone on Earth, to stand united, heart-to-heart, hand-in-hand, dah who doraze.
And maybe, if that could happen, our hearts might all grow three sizes that day.