for the first time, my family stayed in and we spent the day resting. we ate breakfast for dinner and did our annual screening of the Polar Express, except this time we managed to drag my dad into watching with us even though he’s not a movie type of guy. i knew this time would be a different experience because my parents love to make commentary throughout movies. and it was hilarious. it had only been about 3 minutes when my dad asked “what kind of animation is this? It looks like a hybrid with real people.” we laughed and hushed him and told him to pay attention.
halfway through the movie, my mom asked us why we like this movie so much and i didn’t know how to answer other than that it’s tradition and it wouldn’t be Christmas if we didn’t watch it. this was about the 5th year my siblings and i were watching this movie as part of our tradition, yet this time we decided to pay close attention to try to catch things we may not have noticed before. and boy were we catching them. maybe it’s because i’ve become more of a critical thinker since being in college, but while watching it dawned on me that there has to be a deeper meaning behind this movie because it’s lowkey a little bland and it’s appeal for me comes mostly from the beautiful visual art and the smell of the hot chocolate we always drink while watching.
so we decided to put on our fakedeep thinking caps and tried to decipher what each character and scene symbolized. by the end of the movie, we’d come up with a masterpiece analysis. we concluded that the Polar Express train represents a spiritual journey on which you discover more about yourself and the journey on the way to believing. the conductor could be Jesus because he recruited the passengers on board through giving them the power to choose whether they wanted to join or not. at the destination, which is where the main character finally believes, the other passengers receive tickets on which there is a single word which represents their true gift — we took this to resemble the spiritual gifts you receive as a believer. it took us longer to figure out what was going on with the weird ghost on the roof of the train, but G thought he was suppose to be the holy spirit since he saved them every time someone was about to fall off the train. but i personally think it wasn’t executed well if that is true. maybe i’ll figure it out next Christmas lol.
while we did the dishes, my mom asked us whether we still planned to continue with our tradition now that we have deciphered the movie. and we looked at her like she was crazy and responded “but of course!”
i don’t believe in coincidences so i’m going to write them down for those aha moments that will surely surface for why these things repeated themselves.
so i was browsing the web and i saw an image of a mother who was breasfeeding her child who has a full set of teeth. As I read the comments section, there was a whole debate on the mother having agency to do what she pleases and feels best, and the other side was worried for the effect it would have on the child’s development and future because the child was too grown to be breastfeeding. one guy brought up that the child has reached the age where memories become concrete and that a boatload of problems will arise with that remembering when the child is older. the mother had a caption detailing the benefits of breastfeeding for the child. some of the facts were that it gives the best nutrients and the physical touch regulates bodily temperature and blood pressure and reduces stress and depression in mothers post-birth.
that same day as i was reading my favorite blog, i found an interesting blog under ‘similar blogs’. so i started reading some of her posts, which were mostly about motherhood. to my surprise, she wrote about how she was having challenges when it came to the weaning of her child. she’d tried different methods and nothing seemed to work to get the child to stop being needy.
but that’s not all.
later that evening i decided to stop procrastinating to do my research project on black women in 18th century England colonies for my Blacks in British North America course. i remember getting frustrated as i used every advanced search option possible to find a woman that had enough information about her to use as my subject (a task that has proven to be much more difficult to achieve since black women in those times were mostly slaves and didn’t have the privilege of writing their own narratives so a lot of their stories were what we can gather from the writing of white males.) and that was when i stumbled across an article that discussed the practice of extended breast-feeding among black women slaves as a form of resistance to field labor because the rule was that they were permitted breaks to tend to their young. so these women would often breastfeed for as long as they could, sometimes even past 19 months. they also used this as a fertility suppressant form of birth control since they were perpetually subject to rape by their white masters. as i kept reading, i learned that extended breastfeeding wasn’t merely for resistance, and that it was first drawn from cultural norms in African countries.
it’s wild to me that this theme repeated itself to me so many times in the same day. in the first scenario, the mother was embracing the extended breastfeeding. in the second, the mother was trying to make the child stop breastfeeding. in the third, the mother was using breastfeeding as protection. i can’t help but think of this from a spiritual lens. perhaps there’s a message in there somewhere. perhaps we can figure out this coded message together.