You may know Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas as a movie made by the Jim Henson Studios, but before it started cute and cuddly Muppets, it was a book written by Russell Hoban.
I love Russell Hoban’s books, most notably the Frances series. This story is the perfect Christmas tale with a plot reminiscent of O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi.
In Jug-Band Christmas, we meet Emmet and Ma, who is a widow. They struggle to get buy, Emmet with odd jobs and Ma with washing. This year, both feel a real need to get a “real” gift for the other. Then they get their chance, a talent show paying out $50 for first prize.
If you have read The Gift of the Magi, you know that the young couple is in a similar situation. The woman has beautiful long hair and the man a pocket watch. Both decide to sacrifice their prized possession for the other. But the hair combs paid for with the pawned watch are useless since she cut her hair to buy a watch fob.
Emmet decides to use his mother’s washtub to make a washtub bass for a jug-band with his friends. He wants to buy Ma a piano. Ma pawns Emmet’s toolbox to buy material for a dress to perform in. She wants to buy Emmet a guitar.
Sadly, neither Emmet or Ma win the prize money, and now they have no ways to earn money to get by on. As they walk home in surprisingly high spirits, they begin to sing and play their instruments. The sound of their music carries over to a fancy club. The owner of the club offers them regular work and pay to play for his club.
This story is so wonderful. I would really like to see the movie. It’s one of the few Muppet movies I haven’t seen. It makes my heart feel warm and fuzzy just like a little otter Muppet.