Why the Babadook is relevant this Christmas

While everyone’s watching Love Actually and Home Alone, what did I watch this weekend? The Babadook.

In this 2014 horror film, an evil Dr. Seuss like monster terrorizes a grieving single mother named Amelia and her son.

The real horror is that Amelia’s husband died taking her to the hospital the day her son was born. So that kid’s birthday is…loaded.

As the boy’s 7th birthday approaches, Amelia has yet to acknowledge or accept her loss, or him. So, her son is acting out and she’s starting to lose her mind. They read a book called The Babadook that of course no one remembers buying, and the kid believes the monster is real.

And it is real. Because The Babadook isn’t from “out there”; it’s what one reviewer called “human-sized existential dread.” It’s the darkness the mother cannot face, even as the child is all but screaming for it.

The movie plays your nerves like a series of minor keys. It’s tense.

The shadowy half-human half-nightmare creature is scary, but of course the scariest thing has already happened, which is why when the monster makes itself known, Amelia does what she’s done for years: Pull the covers up over her head.

Why am I writing to you about a not-new horror movie right before Christmas?

Because this holiday is loaded, too.

This has been a beast of a year, the stuff of Hollywood horror:

Unthinkable losses; a shapeshifting monster that you cannot see, contain, or predict. It’s done everything from stalk our immune systems and choke our economy to possess us in odd and terrifying ways, putting children into a state of despair, and shaking our democracy within an inch of its life.

We all want our holidays to be peaceful and warm and familiar, but I’m guessing they’ll be fraught, or at the very least, not the holidays we’ve had. There’s also a deep grieving, not just for those we lost this year, but for a way of life, too.

Things won’t go right back to where they were. But they will move forward.

As you already likely know (because I’m certainly the last to know), the Great Conjunction is happening, where for the first time in hundreds of years, Jupiter laps Saturn—and it’s happening not in an earth sign, but an air sign, Aquarius, signifying a new age, and an ideological shift away from materialism and external achievement and toward progressive, universal ideas.

Maybe you’re way into this. Maybe you’re like “That’s a bunch of bullshit.”

Doesn’t matter if you believe in monsters or astrology. I am not asking you to. But I believe in things that make monsters manageable and hope tangible, and so I’m excited the two biggest planets are lining up, doubling their brightness and giving us something to look up at, instead of cowering in our beds.

Have a great holiday. See you on the flip side.