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Cinematic lessons from our heroes

If you spent the Christmas holiday with grandchildren, there may have been a movie involved.

For my husband and me, it was an afternoon at a cinema near Charlotte, S.C., with our 6-year-old grandson, Alex, who was beside himself with joy in anticipation of this outing. I was fairly excited, too. Time with a child is its own gift. And the movie was unexpectedly engaging.

It was a lively two-hour animation titled "Rise of the Guardians," depicting the collaboration between Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Sandman, the Tooth Fairy and Jack Frost — with the goal of saving the world. Working together, they proved to be incredibly effective.

Jack Frost was a little icy about the possibilities at first, but he ended up being the overall hero, although everyone involved deserved some credit. It was all about give and take among independent entities with very specific agendas. Success seemed to be based upon forging mutuality around a common mission — Preserving the wonder and well being of children.

I kept thinking throughout the movie that it contained lessons for our country's elected leaders. Lots of them.

Our grandson sat between us eating popcorn, one butter-popped kernel at a time, eyes riveted on the big screen. At one point, he leaned over and whispered in my ear, "I didn't know the Sandman had so much power," as he watched a glittery sand-ball put the boogie man into a deep sleep. My husband was already sleeping, so I think he missed that part.

I stayed wide awake throughout and read into every action or reaction a message of some kind. I always over-think things when I go to the cinema. For example, Santa was unexpectedly Russian-appearing, with a large, ornate tattoo on each forearm that read "naughty" and "nice." You got the impression the Russian Santa did not tolerate much "naughty." Maybe that was a reminder to count our American blessings, including how old St. Nick operates.

The Tooth Fairy, in case you have been wondering, was absolutely delightful. She resembled a hummingbird, and little, smiling, baby hummers fluttered around her constantly. As the female lead, she was fearless. I liked that. The Easter Bunny was fearless in a different way. He was definitely not soft and cuddly. He was a tall, aging, scruffy-looking rabbit with an Australian accent and an attitude. The message: We can expect some unexpected surprises as we age. Stay tuned.

All the childhood fantasy characters were portrayed a little differently than we might have imagined, and I must admit it took me out of my comfort zone. But you know, these are challenging times and it's probably good that parents and grandparents are outside their comfort zone sometimes. Makes us more vigilant.

The movie verified for Alex that "if you believe in good things, bad things don't happen as much." Nice sentiment. You think it will work?

Sharon Johnson is a retired Oregon State University associate professor emeritus. Reach her at 541-261-2037 or Sharon@hmj.com