When we were young Jewish children growing up in the 1970’s, there weren’t any Hanukkah TV specials. We watched all the traditional Christmas animated shows like “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “Frosty the Snowman.” Back in those days, we didn’t have DVRs. We didn’t even have VCRs. When a show was on TV, you watched it. Since we only had four TV channels to choose from, holiday shows were on once for the entire year. There were no 24 hour long marathons of A Christmas Story or Elf. If Rudolph flew off in December 1977, you could kiss him goodbye until 1978. When the holiday specials were on, it was imperative to have your tiny, pre-teen ass glued to the seat in front of the TV. Perhaps if the shows had been on more than once a year, my mother in law would have been able to preview them to avoid a traumatic childhood experience that scarred my husband well into his adult years.
Unaware of the horror he was about to witness, the young version of Oregano sat down to watch “Frosty the Snowman,” one of the few holiday cartoons that wasn’t entirely Santa-centric. He happily watched the show until Frosty made the fateful decision to enter the greenhouse where he shortly thereafter dissolved into an amorphous puddle of water studded with the accessories he had been wearing.
Let’s digress for a moment to consider the foolishness of a man whose entire existence is predicated on being frozen choosing to enter a greenhouse. While his altruistic motives to warm the cold, little girl who had followed him northward were admirable, Frosty should have exercised a bit of self-preservation and not stepped into the hot house with her. He knew he was being pursued by an evil magician trying to reclaim his magic hat. Deciding to step into a hot house even for just a minute while evil lurked close behind was not the wisest choice any right-minded snow person would make.
When all that was left on the screen was a puddle where the portly snowman had been, poor six-year-old Oregano began bawling uncontrollably. My horrified mother in law jumped up from the couch and did what any protective mother would do when her child was in distress. She dashed across the room and switched off the TV. Remember, this was back in the days before remote controls. If you wanted to turn off the TV to stop your child from viewing the atrocity of a beloved snowman liquefying before his eyes, you had to actually walk clear across the room to do so. The horror – how did we live like that?
She soothed a distraught Oregano then tucked his exhausted little body into bed. Thankfully, the nightmare of what he had witnessed did not haunt his dreams.
That was the last encounter my husband had with the animated version of Frosty until we were married and he was 26 years old. One night during December, “Frosty the Snowman” popped up on the TV screen as I was channel surfing. I left it on for a few minutes and Oregano looked up at me and said, “How can you watch this? It’s horrible.”
“Well, it’s from 1969 so the animation leaves something to be desired compared to today, but it is nostalgic,” I answered.
“I’m not talking about the animation. I can’t believe they let this snowman just die. It’s supposed to be a children’s cartoon,” he said angrily.
I looked at him like he was insane. I couldn’t understand his reaction to such an innocuous cartoon. “What are you talking about? This is “Frosty the Snowman,” not some horror show.”
“I know. I watched this when I was a kid and it traumatized me. When he melted, I was upset and crying so hard, my mother had to turn off the TV to calm me down.”
“You never watched it again after that?” I asked.
“No. She wouldn’t let me watch it and, to be honest, I never had a desire to watch it again. Why would I? It’s not exactly a fond memory,” he replied.
I was stunned and looked at him in disbelief. “So you’re telling me that in the past 20 years, you’ve never seen this entire cartoon. No one has discussed it with you and you don’t know what happened to Frosty?”
“I already told you. No! He melted! That’s how it ended,” he was getting irritated with me.
“I think it might be time for some Frosty therapy. Let’s watch the show together. If you start to cry, I promise I’ll turn off the TV.”
He reluctantly agreed mostly because that was the only TV we had in our apartment and I wasn’t relinquishing the remote control.
As the show continued, I watched Oregano’s reactions to it. Finally, near the end of the show, the dreaded scene appeared on the screen. The little girl wept into the puddle that was once Frosty while a montage of Frosty’s happier, more frozen times flashed across the screen as Jimmy Durante was singing. Oregano glared at me.
“I don’t understand how this is appropriate for kids.” He was truly annoyed.
“Despite how pissed you are at me, you seem to be holding up rather well. Just hang in there a few more minutes and I think you’ll feel better.” I cajoled him.
Reluctantly, Oregano sat there and waited. Santa arrived on screen, threw open the door to the greenhouse and comforted the little girl weeping over the puddle. He reminded her that Frosty was made of Christmas snow which is, as we all know, more magical than everyday snow. At that moment, a cold north wind blew into the greenhouse. Frosty’s puddle of magical, melted Christmas snow transformed him back into his more solid self. Without the hat though, he was lifeless. Santa threatened the evil magician with permanent banishment to the naughty list if he tried to take Frosty’s hat again. As soon as the hat was placed on his refrozen head, Frosty returned to life, hopped into Santa’s sleigh and they headed for the frigid safety of the North Pole.
As the final song played including the lyrics, “Don’t you cry I’ll be back on Christmas Day,” Oregano turned to me with a look of utter shock and disbelief.
“Holy shit! He comes back to life?! Is this a different version than the one we watched in the 70’s? I had no idea!”
“It’s a Christmas miracle!” I exclaimed as I switched off the TV and headed to bed. My work here was done.