Happy Tell a Fairy Tale Day!
Today is Tell a Fairy Tale Day.
Once upon a time, there began to exist a mistaken notion that fairy tales were lovely and frothy and silly little tales where all the beautiful people lived happily ever after. But they weren’t. They aren’t. Fairy tales are much like life: messy and magical and full of adventure, heartache, and love.
Most of us grew up on the Disney version of these stories. I love and adore all things Disney, and my children can probably identify even the minor characters from most of their films. Their version of the tales is far from the true nature of fairy tales. But at the heart of the stories, you can still see the truth of life peeking through.
In the updated Cinderella, for example, poor Cindy has to work her tail off for a demanding and obnoxious stepmother and two equally repugnant stepsisters. Not exactly a great representative for blended families, but can’t you see those awful girls from high school in the cattiness of the sisters?
For Cinderella, a fairy godmother shows up. I have yet to discover a little old lady who sings “bibidi-bobidi-boo” while granting my wishes, but sometimes I’ve been visited by a little good fortune. Like finding $20 in the pocket of the jeans you just washed, when you thought you were out of cash.
Now, the Handsome Prince sets out to find his dream girl (well – he’s a prince, so he sends some other dude to take care of the most important task of his life). In the Disney version, there is some scuffling over the shoe and the poor little footman gets tripped, smashing the glass to bits. Horrifying, right? Try on the Grimm Brothers’ version for size.
In their version, when the sisters try on the shoe and find their feet aren’t quite as dainty as Cinderella’s, their mother hands them a knife and has them hacking off toes and heels. Know what happened to the Queen who messed with Snow White? She was given red-hot iron shoes and forced to dance until she died. Guess she didn’t score a happily ever after.
So you see, fairy tales aren’t all about the happily ever after. They’re about the doing whatever it takes. Older stepsister cut off a toe, y’all. So my children are free to watch fairy tales, read fairy tales, and create their own fairy tales. They may not find a perfect ending, but it’s the journey that is the real adventure.
After all, at the end of Rapunzel, there isn’t always a “happily ever after.” Instead, there is a “they lived for a long time afterwards, happy and contented.” I’m totally alright with that. Bring on the fairy tales!