There are plenty of memorable Christmas movies and shows to enjoy this time of year. Each attempts to capture the spirit of the season that is largely absent. One of my favorites is not from a movie or a made for Christmas cartoon, but from the first season of the TV show The West Wing. The episode, “In Excelsis Deo”, was written by the series creator Alan Sorkin and Rick Cleveland.
I hate it when a show is so good that it makes you cry. Damn it, this episode made me cry, but in a good way.
If you are not familiar with The West Wing, the withdrawn and acerbic Toby Zeigler (played by Richard Schiff) is White House Communications Director. Toby also happens to be a Jew. As Christmas closes in, he gets a call from the D.C. police. A homeless man died on a park bench on The Mall. Toby’s business card was found in the coat. Toby had donated the coat the man wore to Goodwill.
The man who died turns out to be a Korean War veteran who was wounded in action. For reasons that seem to puzzle Toby, he feels compelled to make sure this homeless man he never knew receives a proper burial at Arlington Cemetery.
This episode was voted the best of the long running series by the viewers of IMDB.com, and it won probably for this last scene. This YouTube excerpt contains the key scenes from this episode. Grab a tissue or a handkerchief and prepare to feel the true spirit of Christmas. Moreover, perhaps you can do what I did today, and drop off a bag full of clothes for donation. Due to the poor economy, the number of homeless is rapidly increasing. We hit a high of 27 degrees here in the Washington D.C. area today.
Happy holidays to everyone, regardless of your faith or lack thereof.