Kurt Adler’s plush “South Park” Mr. Hankey Ornament stands as proof that, for a “new” Christmas tradition to endure popularly for decades on end, its sentiment has to reach down and tickle something nestled deep inside the bowels of every young and old soul alike.
For instance, Mariah Carey gave the gift of “All I Want for Christmas is You” unto holiday-season FM radio and too many cheery shopping mall retailers to count in 1994, and the world hasn’t quit giddily singing along since. Justin Bieber’s 2011 duet remake with Carey, on the other hand? Well…remember that one ugly, unpopular girl in high school who was welcomed by the prettier, cooler people because her proximity just made them look that much better? Yeah. It went over somewhat like that among people who had grown up with the original modern classic. Sometimes, however, a new-fangled take on something a little bit aged and dusty brings a fresh joy to the table that can’t help but make a ripe nugget of golden nostalgia suddenly smell like flowers all over again.
If you came into the world sometime roughly between 1960 and 1990 or so, timeless Rankin/Bass animated holiday specials like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “The Little Drummer Boy” and “Frosty the Snowman” need no introduction. For those of us past a certain age, Christmas just doesn’t get any more satisfyingly warm and wholesome. On the other hand, this year marks the quiet passing of 20 years since “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone left their own skid mark on years of wintery rituals to come with a loving, disgusting-yet-charming salute to childhood Yuletide wonderment: a walking, talking and crooning turd named Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo.
You see, this cuddly ca-ca companion hits us squarely in our sweetest of sentimental sweet spots. Sure, we grew up with those immortal standards as wee lads and lasses, but “South Park” ushered us through our angsty teen years and twenties. Dangling this dingleberry from our Christmas trees and Hanukkah bushes will go hand-in-hand with eggnog and sugar cookies like chasing an annual viewing of our sacred stop-motion and hand-drawn animated favorites with a merry chorus of “Kyle’s Mom is a Big, Fat Bitch” in D Minor. It just goes to show, you’re never too old to spritz in a shot of something nutty and new with a tall glass of abiding seasonal bliss.