Your Next Summer Movie

By Tabatha McIntyre

“But I’d be ever so much gratefuller if–if you’d made just one of them with puffed sleeves. Puffed sleeves are so fashionable now. It would give me such a thrill, Marilla, just to wear a dress with puffed sleeves.”

– Anne of Green Gables

A few weeks before Mother’s Day, my husband Chad asked me how I envisioned spending the weekend. Usually, I would have just left it up to him, but at the time he asked me, I was feeling unusually indulgent, so I listed out an entire weekend full of things. My requests included: no cooking all weekend, afternoon teatime, a family game night, and watching Anne of Green Gables.

I very rarely ask to watch something just for me – we have a lot of movie and TV enthusiasts between the six of us so I typically will not choose what we watch since it is one way I can go with the flow and let someone else have the reins. However, since it was Mother’s Day, I thought it would be fun to watch my childhood favorite.

Anne of Green Gables was made in the 80’s as a mini-series. It is LONG, but so good. It is funny and heartwarming and has so many important messages. I was a little hesitant that the younger two (ages 7 and 10) who had not seen it yet would be bored, but I was hopeful that good storytelling transcends time and age. 

We all piled on the sectional and honestly, I felt nervous. It felt like introducing a friend that I wanted everyone to like and accept. I was around 8 when I first was introduced to Green Gables and the girl called Anne with an “e”. It was kind of life changing. My childhood was similar to Anne’s in so many ways. I had grown up a child in the system, longing for a safe place to call home and belong, I talked too much and lived in my own little dream world. I, too, was taken in by an elderly couple (although in the story Marilla and Matthew were siblings) and felt the hope of new beginnings and it just so happened my middle name was Ann with an “e”. Suffice it to say, I loved the movies, the books, and the spin-off series that came from author L.M. Montgomery’s storytelling. 

As much as I love this movie because of what it meant to me as a child, it was not until more recently when I watched it with my husband for the first time that it registered why it was such a perfect movie to me. There is this scene that makes me cry every single time I watch it. I don’t want to give it away in the event you have not seen it, so I will do my best to describe the emotion without the details. Picture a gentle and timid person, shy and uncertain, taking a gigantic step out of their comfort zone in order to show love to someone, someone who has not felt very much love or kindness their whole life. 

The scene is short and does not demand attention. Most things coming at us on our devices are overtly loud. This is not that. You have to really pay attention to appreciate its raw gentleness. The relationship is tender, vulnerable, and completely beautiful. It is the kind of interaction that I want my kids to see, on screen and in real life. The gesture of sacrificing for those you love, the willingness to be uncomfortable and put someone else’s needs before your own, and then the ferocious appreciation that comes on the receiving side, the knowledge of how significant the gift was. It is just perfection.

I think in today’s age of rampant entitlement it is a breath of fresh air to watch this scene unfold. The gift would be considered small today, where we have too much of everything, so it is a timely reminder of how good we have it, and how much we miss out on when we expect instead of appreciate. I paused the movie. I did not want them to miss it. I offered them my take on why this moment in the story was so important. Truthfully, I have no idea if it landed because kids are kids and each child has a different “heart-soil”. I have to trust that it is a seed we are planting that someday will hopefully bloom into an understanding of the power of vulnerable storytelling. 

All in all the kids loved it, they laughed, got emotional, and sighed at all the right parts. So, in my humble opinion, if you are looking for a way to spend a relaxing weekend this summer, take a trip to Green Gables and let yourself get lost in the story of an orphan girl who finds confidence in herself and the truth that simple, slow living with people you love is a far grander way to live than being alone with your wildest, most elaborate dreams.

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