When I was a kid and then a teenager, I had a simple and happy life. My childhood was great, and my family was supportive and wonderful.
Holidays were filled with laughter, traditions, love, friends, incredible food, and lots of joy. On Thanksgiving eve, I had a tradition of watching the Steve Martin and John Candy film: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. It is a movie about a businessman (Martin), who is trying like hell to get home to his family for Thanksgiving, and instead, gets stuck with an obnoxiously annoying shower curtain-ring salesman, (Candy) as his only companion. The results are hilarious. Back then, in my childhood innocence, I only saw the comedy in this movie, and not the sadder and much deeper messages that were present. My life was happy and pain-free, so I couldn’t really feel or understand the painful parts of that film. We see things from the foundation of our own experiences.
Years later, at age 35, I had finally found my soul-mate and my best friend for life. I was married, and we were very happy. We loved the holidays, and my husband and I had our own traditions. One of them was to put up / decorate our small Christmas tree in our apartment on Thanksgiving Eve, order take-out, and watch Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. My husband’s laugh was loud and infectious. It was my favorite sound. Back then, we both loved the comedy in the film, but also appreciated the sentimental themes about loneliness, loss, and love coming in many different forms. We appreciated the sadness and poignancy in John Candy’s character, (spoiler alert) who is a homeless widower, a fact that the viewer doesn’t find out until almost the end of the film. My husband and I had sympathy and empathy for him, but because our life was so happy and lacked grief or any real deep pain, we couldn’t ever comprehend what it was like to be him. We see things from the foundation of our own experiences.