If you were to imagine a Calvin and Hobbes Christmas, the odds are you wouldn’t imagine a traditional Norman Rockwell moment.
Oh sure Calvin’s parents would love that kind of Christmas with everyone grouped around the table in blissful, festive repose, but the reality is that Calvin, who never met an expectation he couldn’t gleefully confound (in common with many mischievous children), would never go along with.
This is after all, the boy who spends his time out in the snow, the very setting of the much-loved and hoped-for “White Christmas” of which Bing Crosby sang so eloquently, creating freaky, scary but ultimately hilariously subversive snowman.
Not for him, the boy who torments Susie Derkins and delivers blisteringly bad poll numbers to his dad, the beatific scarf-clad snowman standing all jolly in someone’s yard.
Nope, his snow people are fiendishly troubled souls who get stabbed, fed to giant snow monsters or fired through by stray cannon fire.
Pretty sure that Norman Rockwell would not recognise these snowmen.
But that’s the whole point.
Calvin is a young boy, created by Bill Watterson as the very embodiment of the misunderstood child who doesn’t fit neatly within society’s parameters, with boundless imagination, a questioning spirit and a complete lack of willingness to play by the rules.
So it makes sense that A Very Calvin & Hobbes Christmas, created by Jim Frommeyer and Teague Chrystie (and inspired by Bill Watterson, who is acknowledged in a heartfelt message at the end – “We miss you Bill”) would keep that subversive spirit bubbling along with a tableau of horrifically gruesome scenes that somehow never made it into the lyrics of Crosby’s immortal Christmas song.
The thing is, as Buzzfeed makes beautifully clear is that Calvin actually loves Christmas.
He believes in Santa – even if he does try to game the system – and doesn’t him to burn up in a lit fireplace, is horrified when his father says they’ll get a near-dead tree after New Year’s and happily takes all the loot he can get (“Getting loads of loot is a very spiritual experience for me”).
But yes he is also a subverter and a sceptic and A Very Calvin & Hobbes Christmas captures it all perfectly, reminding us that we all need a healthy dose of questioning to go with our wonder.
And that even when we’re neck deep in festive music, Hallmark movies and eggnog, that having some fun with the conventions of Christmas is not just a cool way to spend some time, it’s damn near a requirement!
I am sure Bill Watterson would approve.