I hope all of you had blessed Thanksgivings, with plenty of good food and good times with your loved ones. I myself headed back to the bustling metropolis that is Omaha and spent the day with my parents and my brother and his girlfriend, eating good homemade food for the second time this month (a new record for me, I believe).
I don’t know about your family and holidays, but my family doesn’t have too many traditions or rituals that we follow during the holidays. Sure, we have the common ones — turkey, pumpkin pie, etc. — but not much else. However, I think that might have changed with this year.
A few years ago, I got my parents a DVD player for a Christmas — a gift that, much to my chagrin, is still being far too underutilized. And last Christmas, I bought my parents the first two seasons of M*A*S*H on DVD. So last night, after a good meal and a rousing game of Uno, we settled down a watched a couple of M*A*S*H episodes.
I know, it sounds sort of silly. But M*A*S*H is one of the few television series that my parents and I can both agree as being “genius”. (I’ve tried, for many years, to get my parents to recognize the value of The Simpsons, to no avail.) I’m a huge fan of the (mis)adventures of Hawkeye and the gang, and so it was just a real treat to watch the show and laugh along with the rest of my family.
I don’t think most people realize just how great M*A*S*H is. It’s become part of our popular culture — try whistling the theme and see how many people join in — and as such, I think people lose sight of just how amazing and powerful some of those episodes can be. Oh sure, on the surface it seems like it’s nothing more than Hawkeye and Trapper (and later, B.J.) getting drunk, chasing nurses, and tormenting Hot Lips and Frank (and later, Charles).
But as I was watching episodes from the first season (I borrowed the DVDs from my parents), I actually found myself getting choked up during certain parts. The scene between Hawkeye and Father Mulcahy, as they discuss the differences between their professions and the doubts Mulcahy has about his usefulness, is one of the great spiritual exchanges that permeate the series. And I can think of no better image of mercy in the history of network television than the sight of Hawkeye, dressed as Santa Claus, descending onto the battlefield from a helicopter to save a wounded soldier.