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There are paths that by strange chances on Christmas Eve mix up in time, space, thought, crazy activation. Some fact. Some fantasy. Who knows?
So it happened once upon a near but distant whimsical time in a universe that was hoodwinked into crisscrossing paths. Five companions on one. Three, on the other. Switching both respective destinations.
Our first group of travelers, names familiar to young and old alike – Dorothy and Toto, Tin Man, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion – were following the fabled Yellow Brick Road to Oz when the unexpected celestial switcheroo occurred.
Quite suddenly, they were sideswiped by a brilliant klieg light that seemed to whisk them through December’s winter gloom. Giddy. Very, very young. Exuberantly naive at heart. They forgot all about Oz, which isn’t an easy thing to do. Ask any LGBT grown-up or drag queen.
(Our second regal sojourners: Caspar, Balthasa, Melchoir – bearing gifts for someone deemed eventually of high political estate – were baffled to find themselves in a poppy-infested countryside, traveling only heaven knows to where. A neon sign pointed MGM: “Much Grander Make Believe!”)
Along the way, Dorothy and her rerouted friends found themselves waved at by shepherds tending flocks by night.
“It seems we’re celebrities,” giggled Scarecrow as Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and little barking Toto busied themselves (bravely to be sure) in chasing off wolves in sheep’s clothing howling too close for comfort.
Yea, verily, readers, the night was radiantly clear. And the starry light got even brighter.
“No doubt!” ventured Scarecrow, with newfound mental acumen, “This star is of -1.44 magnitude. A biggie.”
Inspired by their dreamlike mood, Dorothy, who had palatial lyric gifts – she hoped someday to perform in Off-Broadway musicals – started to sing. And, belting out of the celestial blue, she sang lyrics she had never heard before but somehow knew by heart, with Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and Scarecrow crooning in. Surprise of surprise, a heavily choir of non-union angels actually hummed along.
How quickly the miles rolled and reeled by. And before they could finish their 12th joyful rendition of “Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis,” they unexpectedly found themselves among a small crowd gathered in front of a tiny, makeshift manger. It’s bubble lights twinkled merrily.
There were shepherds, seven celebrity hi-ho! dwarfs, a newly awakened princess, her adoring prince and, in the center of it all, a smiling mom, a proud carpenter dad and a small baby wrapped in hand-me-down swaddling clothes.
And so, most probably because this was an awe-inspired, opening-night crowd applauding gaily, the little guy began to cry. Not too loudly. But authoritatively audible nonetheless. And in a moment of exquisite improv, Scarecrow pulled straw from his thump-thump-thumping, make-believe heart and blushingly gave it to gently cradle the small kid’s head.
Dorothy, with perfect on-stage presence, sang another lullaby that again popped magically into her head. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” she sang. The baby hushed. Smiled. Gave the tinniest of – so a Macy’s movie Santa years later claimed – technicolored laughs. (The baby’s own over-the-rainbow-time would come another day.)
Alas! Alas! In the twinkling of an eye, Dorothy, Tin Man, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion and tail wagging Toto were suddenly whisked away, back to timeline 1939!
“Well, I wonder what Auntie Em would say?” sighed Dorothy, shaking her newly halo’d head from side to side.
“And why in heaven’s name would a shepherd be wearing Ruby Red slippers and clicking his heels? Is he funny that way?” camped the Cowardly Lion, with a roaring, “AH-men!” Plus an I-just-got-lucky wink. (And one presumes those ecumenical, lucky Wise Men got high and enlightened on the poppies.)