One of my favorite Disney Halloween movies is Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas. Jack Skellington is the main character and he learns some important life lessons regarding faith, friendship, and one’s purpose.
Who is Jack Skellington?
Jack Skellington is the lovable hero of Halloween town. Jack is the icon of Halloween, kind of like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. As a living skeleton, he is immortal and can remove parts of his body without harm. He is the most important of many Halloween spirits, with the implication that their job is to scare people in the real world on Halloween night, though all in innocent fun.
He seeks to do what is right and I think he goes through somewhat of a mid-life crisis in Nightmare Before Christmas. Jack is not feeling fulfilled and wonders if there is more to life than scaring people. He shares his discontent with us.
Yet year after year, it’s the same routine And I grow so weary of the sound of screams And I, Jack, the Pumpkin King Have grown so tired of the same old thing
Oh, somewhere deep inside of these bones An emptiness began to grow There’s something out there, far from my home A longing that I’ve never knownJack’s Lament – Nightmare Before Christmas
As someone nearing my forties I completely understand where Jack is going through. Working the same job every day even if you are working in your calling can eventually give your burn out.
In response to his musing, he wanders into the Hinterlands and finds the grove of trees that open doors to other holidays. He is curious and decides to travel through one of the doors, Christmas, and is delighted and perplexed by what he sees. Jack sees something different and assumes it is something he should figure out and bring to Halloweentown.
Life Lessons from Jack Skellington
Jack is somewhat naive but he also seems to be book-smart. He wants to know more about Christmas, a holiday based on faith. Santa is a figure we believe in faith. Joy is unseen but felt in twinkling lights, giving gifts, and family dinners. It can’t be explained with the scientific method but he tries.
Listen to Your Friends
Sally, who is not only a friend but also is head over heels for Jack tries to tell him that she has a bad feeling about his plan to take over Christmas. Jack was so wrapped up in his quest to do something different that he disregarded her advice and not only did he put Christmas in danger, he also put her in danger.
Not only did he not follow her advice, but he also ignored her adoration. Once they found each other you could tell he was fulfilled. I think love was what he was missing and why he felt life was boring. Life needs a work and play balance.
You Can’t Explain Faith
Try as he might, Jack couldn’t figure out the workings of Christmas. So when he decided to take over Christmas it was bound to be a mess. Scaring people is his calling in life, not giving Christmas gifts. The scientific method is what Jack was using to try to explain flying reindeer, shiny ornaments, and stockings.
He tried explaining Christmas to the people of Halloweentown and they took the basic principles and basically added lots of Halloween elements which obviously did not fare well on Christmas Eve.
Live Your Calling
Jack is the Pumpkin King. He is the best scarer. Santa couldn’t do that. Jack’s calling in life is to scare people. Think about what your calling is, whether it is a full-time mommy, nurse, police officer, or food service worker. You are doing the work that you are supposed to be doing right now. Once Jack came back to his own reality he was rejuvenated and ready to start scaring again.
Maybe he just needed a vacation. Take them often, I suggest going to Disney.
Well, what the heck, I really did my best/And by God I really tasted something swell, that’s right/And for a moment, why, I even touched the sky/And at least I left some stories they can tell, I did/And for the first time since I don’t remember when/I felt like my old bony self again/And I, Jack, the Pumpkin King… [spoken] That’s right. I AM THE PUMPKIN KING! [sung] And I just can’t wait until next Halloween/’Cause I’ve got some new ideas that will really make them scream/And by God, I’m really gonna give it all my might!/Jack, Nightmare Before Christmas
I just love how Disney movies do more than just entertain. I also like how you gain different insights into the movie as you age. Maybe because I am near my forties did I realize that the Nightmare Before Christmas is just Jack’s mid-life crisis, lol.
What is your favorite thing about Jack Skellington? Let me know in the comments.