Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thursday's Children - Jim Henson

Okay, I know this might seem like a stretch for inspiration, but bear with me.

When I was a kid, I loved Grover on Sesame Street.

Loved. Him.

He wasn't afraid to be silly or scared or even wrong. At one point in my childhood, I was pretty sure I was going to marry him. Yeah, I know.  I didn't quite get that he was a puppet. To me, he was just as real as my friends at school or my brother. I also adored Kermit and Cookie Monster and Oscar, but Grover was always my favorite.

When I was a little older, Jim Henson, one of Sesame Street's puppeteers, brought The Muppets to night time TV and my mom and brother and I fell in love with puppets all over again. It was on the one night she didn't have to work, so we'd watch it together and laugh.

I used to hate that she had to work second shift, so Muppet night was not only full of silliness and fun on the telly, but it was also full of togetherness and cuddles and stories and crafts at home. Not only did I love the Muppets, but I loved what I associated them with.

My love for Henson's puppets and his creative spirit only increased with the releases of Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal which remain two of my favorite movies to this day.

My much younger siblings were born when I was a teenager. I was only too happy to share the Muppets in all their incarnations with them. My brother, Andrew, was particularly enamored with them. We'd make our own puppets and put on shows. He also drew elaborate pictures and comic strips. Some of the characters were Henson's, but more were Andrew's. He was inspired to create his own stories, characters and artwork. It was wonderful to watch his creativity at work.

I remember listening to the news when it was broadcast that Jim Henson had died. I will never forget the expression on Andrew's face. He was young, and this was his first experience with anyone he "knew" dying. And no, he didn't know Jim Henson, but he'd been profoundly affected by the man's work.

I remember he asked us who would take care of Kermit and Gonzo since their dad had died. And he cried. He cried so hard, and so did I. I hated that his little heart was breaking. And I hated that a creative light had left the world.

The broadcaster closed with a quote by Jim Henson. When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in the world. My hope is to leave the world a little better for having been there.

Andrew climbed on my lap and said, "He did make it better."

And that's one of the things that I think inspires all creative people - the desire, whether verbalized or not, to leave the world a little better place. 




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27 comments:

  1. That was lovely, and made me get all choked up. Kind of amazing to think puppets made it to prime-time back in the day when there were only a handful of TV channels. Obviously The Muppets weren't just for children...

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    1. Thank you, but I'm sorry your got choked up! Definitely not just for kids - I still love them today. :)

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  2. I'm a Muppet fan from way back, too. Jim Henson inspires me as well. Thanks for bringing back good memories.

    http://www.miaceleste.com/?p=323

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    1. Happy to help bring back good memories, Mia.

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  3. Wonderful post! I loved Sesame Street as a kid (my fave was Cookie Monster) and The Muppets was really big when I was in middle school. What an amazing man Jim Henson was - he definitely made the world a better place.

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  4. Wow--what an awesome post. I'm a total fan of Jim Henson, especially Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal. We'll have to watch these during our Oceanside Maine Retreat. <3

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  5. Great post. This may be sacrilege, but I actually preferred Fraggle Rock!

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    1. Fraggle Rock was awesome. It was my sister's favorite! :D

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  6. This is a really lovely post. I think Jim Henson's quote is something we can all aspire to do.

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  7. I got choked up too. You always do that!

    Kermit and Grover are two of my faves. Through the power of Netflix, we have Muppet Show nights at our house now!

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    1. Awwww, sorry Tess! I'm so glad your kiddos are enjoying them, too. :)

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  8. "who would take care of Kermit and Gonzo since their dad had died" - so sad and gripping. :( But I love the quote you included.

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    1. It still makes me a little teary today, thinking about him saying that.

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  9. Aw, that made me all ferklempt. I love The Muppets too! The first movie I remember watching is 1979's The Muppet Movie. This post just made me miss Jim Henson all over again! Thank you for taking me straight back to my childhood...

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    1. I'm so glad I'm in the regular company of other Muppet lovers like you. :)

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  10. Yeah, I'm feeling all "ferklempt" too (good word, Laura!)
    Just watched the Dark Crystal with my son the other night. He's so sensitive, he cried when the bird dudes were (spoiler) and (spoiler) almost (spoiler.)

    I remember the muppets helped make sense of big world things to big people in little bodies.

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    1. Ahhhh, yes! I know exactly what you mean. Your son sounds very sweet, Joan. :)

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  11. I remember watching a tribute documentary thing after Jim Henson died. Boy, did I cry. :(

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    1. I think I might have seen the same one - total tear fest. :(

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  12. Wow. I just about cried on the bus reading this. I think we all hope to leave the world a better place and leave a part of ourselves behind. Maybe that's part of our desire to write. I loved Kermit, by the way. I felt so bad for him since its not easy being green.

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  16. Waka waka waka! Let the good times roll! Before I die of impatience for the new Muppet movie to arrive to Sweden, I thought I'd go back to the humble beginnings of these wonderfully timeless entertainers. More specifically, 1979.

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