I'm not very much in the Christmas spirit this year. As of the time of writing this column, I don't have a tree, nothing has been tinseled, and there isn't a blinking holiday light to be seen -- at least not in my house.
While I suspect that my soapy personal life -- as opposed to the soapy soap life -- takes most of the blame for that, I will cede that a smidgen... just the teensiest, weensiest bit may have something to do with All My Children not being on the air.
It isn't so much that All My Children was canceled, it's more that we didn't get a final, suitable Christmas episode. We didn't even get a Thanksgiving episode this year. Come to think of it, almost all of the holidays have been skipped over in recent years. If they can pretend the holidays don't exist in our hour-long fantasy world, why can't we do the same in our 24/7 world?
I'll tell you why: that would be letting them win. I'm not sure who "them" is, but it sounds very conspiracy-laden -- and we all know soap fans love a good conspiracy theory.
A bunch of years ago, Myrtle Fargate received a visit from Red Kildgren, a guy claiming to be Santa Claus. "And I'm the Easter Bunny," Myrtle snapped in her best carnie sass. At the time, I remember rolling my eyes at the holiday fluff storyline. It was not what I wanted to see from a drama series. You're going to tell me that a senior citizen can see a walking, talking Santa Claus? Yeah, and I see dead people.
Well, I did as All My Children wrapped up its run.
What I have come to learn since the Red Kilgren scenes, way back in 1996, is that sometimes we need to take a step back from telling ourselves how things should be, and just allow things to be the way they are. That can range from something as frivolous as a soap storyline to something more significant, like a child that doesn't want to be the lawyer or doctor that we want him or her to be.
Soaps have unwittingly taught me that we can't control everything in our lives. You think going to a reputable hospital for the birth of your baby will be a nice, easy ride -- and then 15 years later you learn that you had twins, and one was from the one-night stand that you'd had and the other was swapped with the child of your bitterest enemy. Or maybe you try to keep a secret because you think it's in everyone's best interest. The secret never stays hidden for long, and usually everyone just ends up hating you for not being honest in the first place.
What I miss from All My Children is the annual visit from Father Clarence. Sure, many of Father Clarence's visits involved the most impossible dreams to become reality, but isn't that what Christmastime is all about? There was something about his visits that restored my hope, my faith in humanity.
Father Clarence was symbolic in so many ways. Aside from the obvious, if you recall, Father Clarence was initially met with resistance from everyone he visited. There were those that didn't want a stranger telling them what to do, and others viewed his advice with suspicion. How can you believe in something that you can't see or something that just seems to defy everything that you've been told is true?
I see the excitement of Christmastime in the eyes of children that run around my neighborhood. Most, if not all of them, will probably never know what All My Children was. It'll be something confined to the pages of a history book, perhaps a prologue to a chapter about how one day there was a magic box that sat in people's rooms and displayed entertainment programs.
But then I think: There's no reason that All My Children can't live on. It does live on. It lives on in our memories and in the conversations we have with other fans. It lives on in the pile of VHS tapes that we've ferreted away in the cabinet beneath our television. It lives on when the top news story talks about a story that's "stranger than fiction." It lives on here on the Internet, where fans can read about the fictional characters that were almost like a family to them.
And maybe, just maybe, All My Children will one day live on again on our television screens. It may seem like too much to hope for, some impossible dream. But this time of year, perhaps more than any other, everybody needs a little miracle.