Nearly a year ago, I became inspired to see Coraline, the movie after which my best friend named her baby. Due to the passage of time and the pressing of life, I had forgotten all about it until last month when our pastor referenced the film from the pulpit. Though his message brought only a brief glimpse into the story, it renewed my interest and piqued that of my girls. Being who we are, we decided we must watch it immediately, so we set out after church to find it.
Thankfully, our town boasts one of the seemingly few remaining video rental stores in the country. Formerly a common fixture in American life, these quaint little enterprises have actual movies on actual shelves ready for actual people to take home anytime. Sure, the selection was slimmer than I could find online, but we enjoyed visiting with the owners and patrons, and the whole visit only cost just over a dollar. If you have access to such an establishment, I encourage you to support it by visiting regularly.
For our visit that day, we rented Coraline and National Treasure 2, then acquired some much-needed snacks and settled in for a long weekend of cinematic entertainment. Having expected little more than a few hours of diversion, I found myself surprised at some remarkable similarities these movies shared.
Coraline is based on the Neil Gaiman book and centers around a dissatisfied young girl. Her family has moved into a dreary new house with an overgrown landscape and neighbors who can’t remember her name. Coraline longs for better food, better clothes, better parents…a better life. One day, a magic door reveals a world where all of Coraline’s dissatisfactions have been addressed: her Other Mother dotes on her and makes her delicious, customized meals; her Other Father sings and plays with her; the neighbors live for her entertainment; and all of the drab and dreary has gone. Naturally, along with the perks come some frightening strings and peril ensues. Coraline must fight for her freedom as well as for the spirits of other unwitting victims; I’ll let you see/read for yourself how her adventure ends.
The National Treasure movies get their inspiration from longstanding legends of lost treasure, and they center around a dissatisfied man named Benjamin Gates. His family has passed down a legacy of hunting said treasure to the point of losing all credibility among their peers. Ben is not at peace with leaving the questions unanswered, and so he longs to find the treasure and restore his family’s name, along with his father’s spirit. Peril ensues as Ben attempts to rescue the treasure from the clutches of nefarious men with less than altruistic purposes; I’ll let you see for yourself how his adventure ends as well.
Coraline’s dissatisfaction was a force of harm in her life; Ben’s was a source of honor. I found myself asking, what makes the difference?
The short answer that I devised is this: there is a subtle but important line between aspiration and ingratitude.
These thoughts have been with me leading up to our approaching Johnny Appleseed festivities, and have inspired me to view the day differently this year. Up until now, we have remembered the man primarily through watching his movie and eating as many apple-based delicacies as we could think of – truly passive fare. It has belatedly occurred to me that we don’t remember Johnny Appleseed for eating apples; we remember him for planting seeds.
Therefore, our improved celebration this year invokes a more fitting spirit of gratitude and action. At my oldest daughter’s behest, we will be saving the seeds from all of the apples we use. We will then employ them in a game of being thankful for the people who have sown into us, as well as considering how we want to sow into others in response. After that, we shall seek out a place to plant them a’ la Johnny Appleseed and see how they grow.
Sing with me now:
“Oh the Lord is good to me,
And so I thank the Lord
For giving me the things I need:
The sun and the rain and the apple seed.
Yes, He’s been good to me!”