A few comment of “Jesus, Mary and Joseph” and “Holy Mother of Mary” which were common sayings during this time.
What a neat movie! We go back in time to Limerick, Ireland, in the year 1913 and it’s Christmastime. The animation is terrific, the characters are delightful, and the theme of keeping loved ones in our hearts while they’re away is timeless. And the hope we get from keeping wishes alive is nicely portrayed in this wonderful, colorful movie.
Young Angela has to say good-bye to her father, who boards a ship for Australia. There is a war going on and her dad is a man of principles and duty. But as the time passes, Angela, her mother, and her brothers miss Dad. Mother seems to be cranky and Angela is sure it’s because she misses their father.
Angela goes to St. Joseph’s church and speaks to baby Jesus in the Nativity scene. Angela knows she’s getting a big surprise for Christmas and she thinks it might be the golden-haired, green-eyed doll in the toy shop window. She gets loud in church with excitement and her mother corrects her a couple of times. Angela prances away with, “Good-bye, Joseph, good-bye Mary, good-bye baby Jesus!”
At home, as the children noisily play, Mother becomes short with them and tells them to clean their rooms. But as they head to their rooms, she stops them and says, “There’s always time for a story.” She tells them of a fat king in Australia and a genie that offered one wish to a king and to a pauper. The king wished for more gold, but what did the pauper wish for? Years later the king is unhappy but the pauper is very happy. The king wants to know…what did the pauper wish for that brought such happiness? “Tell me your wish, tell me your wish, tell me your wish!” says the king. As the children finally head to their rooms to get them in “ship shape” as Mother says, they wonder what the pauper had wished for. They also wonder why Mother has been so cranky. “She missed Dad,” offers the oldest, Tom.
Angela and Pat decide to try to dig their way to Australia to bring Dad back, but when Mother sees them digging in the yard she makes them stop. When Mrs. Blake, their neighbor, catches them digging in her yard, she chases them away.
The kids look at a photo of Dad and each miss him for various reasons. Patrick says that, like a horse saddle, Dad “was warm and leathery.” Tom misses his laugh, “the one he had when he played with us.” Even baby Aggie holds on to a photo of Dad. “Tom misses Dad,” says Angela, “Pat misses Dad, Mom misses Dad, and I miss Dad.” Despite the children’s various Christmas wishes, such a wish for an elephant, lots of snuggles or coats, it is Dad they wish for most.”
Pat and Angela head to the library to find a map and to see if they can figure out a way to sail to Dad in Australia on one of the large ships. “It looks far away,” observes Pat. However, the children miss a ship they try to get on and their dreams seem all but dashed. Does the film have a happy ending? We won’t give the ending away but rest assured the viewer will be more than satisfied.
One of the nice things about the movie is that the kids care for others too. A friend of Angela has a calf named Socks that is sick, and Angela hopes she can get her friend Dorothy’s dad, a veterinarian, to help the calf. In addition, they care for others, the least of these, too. When the children see a man on the street, with a peg leg, play an accordion and receive donations in a case, they get the idea to try to raise money to travel to Australia. Pat and Angels both sing in a pub and move the patrons to tears. The lyrics touch them all, and the words are: “Keep a place in your heart for me, my love, my love. Years went by since I left home, and your love keeps me strong as the fighting rages on, I wish I could leave this place, duty makes me stay, keep a place in your heart for me.”
There are a few sayings which were popular in Ireland during this time, such as “Jesus, Mary and Joseph” and “Holy Mother of Mary” but rest assured this is a story of faith, with a wonderful church scene near the conclusion of the movie. And Angela is big on talking to baby Jesus! This film merits our Dove seal for All Ages.
The Dove Take:
This is a wonderful Christmas story but focuses on the need to keep wishes alive and that is a timeless theme no matter the season.