Nearly 30 years since we first saw Home Alone and now we’re strangely living a lot like Kevin McCallister: stuck at home, jumping on the bed with our shoes on, watching scary movies (the news) that we know’ll give us nightmares and navigating the brave new world of grocery shopping like it’s the first time, expired coupons in hand.
But really, we’re just hoping to avoid any and all boobytraps in this real-life reboot on repeat that’s starting to look more and more like the plot of Groundhog Day, one strange day after another where we (hopefully) get a little better each day.
Currently, we’re trapped at the point of the movie where the proverbial basement is flooding and we’re getting hung up on doors, waiting for the bad guys to bite off our fingers, one at a time, but we have to have a little faith–
There’s going to be a happy ending.
When the 1990 film begins, all appears to be normal. A family eating together within spitting distance, kids running around devil may care, spreading their germs as vacation plans involving a crowded airport go unquestioned, and the biggest problem is somebody eating the last of your cheese pizza.
But by the second act, Kevin is all alone with nowhere to go, eating ice cream for lunch and uncertain as to when he’ll see his family again, worried for his safety as unwanted intruders get a little too close, all while making friends with the creepy neighbor he never bothered to know before, only to realize he’s not so creepy.
Starting to sound familiar? Only now, the intruders are Amazon delivery drivers, and the creepy neighbor is probably us because we haven’t worn pants in six months (look what you did, you little jerk).
Many of us have been fortunate enough to live fairly casual lives until now wherein our biggest problems weren’t real problems, just inventions of our minds, be it the scary furnace in the basement or who could be on the other side of a knock at the door. At the start of quarantine, we quickly learned what real problems — losing our jobs, insurance, government support — felt like. And like Kevin, we were suddenly trapped inside our homes, unable to see family for an undetermined amount of time, forced to celebrate traditional holidays alone, fending for ourselves when came to dinner — macaroni and ice cream, not a coincidence — and hiding under the covers night after night, praying for a miracle.
In what has felt like an endless semester of major fundamental learning (with a minor in gratitude), we’ve been taking back control of our lives when left to our devices, forging a blueprint (albeit a messy one, written in marker) and defending what we find valuable.
Instead of having someone cook our meals, iron our shirts, cut our lawns, clean our homes and walk our dogs, we’re finding we can do these things on our own with a little extra effort (and maybe a blowtorch). This is not to say we don’t need housekeepers, landscapers and domestic workers who have worked hard for us in the past, but maybe we’ve become too disconnected from our own lives and have come to realize we need to be more involved, but also grateful for the extra hand.
Were we too complacent and self-reliant on others to do our dirty work (what the French call, “les incompetent”)? Maybe. Is it strange for a grown man to not know what kind of toothbrush to buy for himself? Fairly. Is eating takeout seven days a week without leaving a tip wrong? Yes, it turns out.
It’s not your fault we’re in this mess. You didn’t make your family disappear, that was all COVID. But we do have to take some responsibility for ourselves now and moving forward.
Keep the Change, Ya Filthy Animal
We’ve come full circle to the part of the movie where we realize how much pain we’ve inflicted on others, even strangers we barely know, and now our backs are against the wall (quite literally, we’re on the hook), and just as a whole world of karmic butt-kicking is about to come crashing down on us, a savior appears.
Now, this savior may be an older gentleman, perhaps a former vice president or a Black senator who have dedicated their lives to making the world a better place. We’re just saying, a savior, in general.
Things have gotten so bad for so long, it seems difficult to find our way back. Maybe the only realization left is maybe we shouldn’t go back, only to have our rope cut as we swing face-first into the side of a brick house, metaphorically speaking. Maybe it’s time we pressed ahead with what we know now, as better men. As better humans.
When all is said and done, and we stumble upon an opportunity to return to some semblance of “normal life,” we implore you to reconsider and perhaps forego it. Start to be more thoughtful with your words and actions, lest you get to sleep on the third floor (with a bedwetter, no less) and continue to improve your own little corner of this world. Because if we don’t change, all we’ll end up with is a number of meaningless sequels, each more terrible than the one before it. Or worse, home alone on Christmas this year. Move forward with the better parts of yourself, starting right now.
In other words: Keep the change, you filthy animal.
Cover: 20th Century Fox