Merry Christmas from Walt!

Who knew I’d be this busy? Too busy to even do a blog post this week. If the holidays are so much fun - why am I so relieved when they’re finally over? I just made my final trip to the market. At least, I hope it was the final trip. I can tell the holidays are beginning to wear on some people. Horn blowing and people screaming at each other makes me realize that some have finally had enough. In the last minute shopping dash, nerves are beginning to wear thin.

I can’t help but remember the simpler times. The holidays of my childhood when all of us had so very little - and yet so much more. I remember the chill in the air as we headed home on Christmas eve back in forties Santa Barbara. The war still raged on in Europe and the Pacific and resources were meager. We kids planted Victory Gardens and made sure there were buckets of sand in our school hallways. Buckets of sand, you ask? Yes, the sand was there to put out fires in case of an air attack launched by Imperial Japan. As I said, the nation was at War. In spite of that, we still managed to have a wonderful Christmas.

This past summer, a lovely woman requested I create this Christmas card for the volunteers at Walt’s Barn in Griffith Park. Julie Thomas sat down with me and described the card she wanted to see. Walt Disney would be wearing a Santa cap as he sat astride his train waving to all of us. Of course, Walt’s Barn would be in background. As I began sketching this Christmas card I received word that Julie had suffered a heart attack and had passed away. The news hit hard that day. After all, we were still recovering from the sad news of Diane Disney Miller’s passing. Needless to say, I completed the card as promised and copies were given to the wonderful volunteers at Walt’s Barn. On that special December morning, we were surprised by a visit from Diane’s eldest daughter, Joanna and her son, Nick. It was a bittersweet reunion, but we gathered together to celebrate all things Disney during this holiday season.

It would appear a good deal of sadness seems to occur this time of year. We lost Walt Disney back in 1966 and that was a very sad December. Perhaps that’s why the new film, “Saving Mr. Banks” is so special to me. It’s a reminder of those wonderful days back in the sixties. I’m also a little tired of the continual carping by “historians” insisting that the movie is a work of fiction. The movie is simply a dramatization of what happened back in 1961 and the story is beautifully told. I’ve had it up to here with all the nit-picking from those who never visited Don DaGradi’s office or visited Walt’s office on the third floor of the Animation Building. And, Do I have to hear anther complaint from someone who never sat in a story session with P.L. Travers? I didn’t weep through this film because it was a fabrication foisted on us by the Disney Company. The film resonated with me because it was the real deal.

Enough of my Christmas rant. I’ve posted the Christmas card I created for the Walt’s Barn people down below. It’s Walt Disney wishing all of you a very merry Christmas. And, I wish all of you the same.