Not just in a surface level, Christmas is all about gifts. No, the Christmas episode of Akage no An shows that the real joy of giving and getting gifts comes from having a humble heart. I believe this is one of the most family-friendly Christmas shows ever. In the end, Anne is the happiest child I can think of on Christmas Day. But behind the perfect picture of a loving foster family, we see a strong call to be thankful and kind to people who are in need.
Let’s take a look at how Anne responded to her gifts, and what it can teach us!
Despite being adapted into an anime in 1979, Anne of Green Gables remains largely unknown to Western anime enthusiasts. Not even among admirers of Japanese animation, the show is not very well-liked. You are the most geek in this room! “When Kaguya from Kaguya-sama: Love is War informs her friends that she likes Akage no Anne, they say, “Only a true anime fan would bring up something that ancient!”
Though it is a little older, Akage no Anne is still a fantastic anime, so Kaguya and I can’t claim we were unaware of the accusation. This is mostly due to the fact that it was directed by Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata. Though he was undoubtedly the most suitable director for the role, Anne wouldn’t exist without her creator. The novel is based on the well-known children’s book Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery, which tells the tale of Anne Shirley, an orphan sent to live with her two elder siblings, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. Being one of the all-time best-sellers, it has been adapted into numerous TV series and films; nonetheless, Takahata’s anime adaptation is regarded as one of the most accurate to the original work. It’s so brilliant that you could create English subtitles for the anime by copying and pasting lines from the book.
Tatsumi Takahata made the proper decision by adhering to the novel, as the cartoon’s humor stems from Anne’s words. She has an extremely optimistic outlook on life and a sharp mind. Listening to her discuss the topics she has been considering or wondering about is enjoyable. However, some renditions have failed to mention Anne’s other side. No one who truly loved or cared about her took care of her since she was a child. To put it another way, she understands what it’s like to be cruel and alone. She doesn’t think Marilla and Matthew are only doing their best to nurture and care for her as a result. She doesn’t mind obeying Marilla’s rules, even though they are occasionally outdated, and they both deserve recognition.
Because she has developed the habit of being appreciative no matter what, Anne is naturally grateful. She finds that this style of thinking not only helps her get through difficult times, but it also prepares her for immense enjoyment when her dream comes true. Because Anne has a humble nature, people can be glad for her, yet anyone can possess this quality. In fact, Phil. 4:6-7 states, “In everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, make your needs known to God.” His peace, which transcends all comprehension, will guard your hearts and thoughts.
In this vein, Anne expresses gratitude and makes humble requests in her prayers each night. She always begins by giving God the glory for creating nature. She focuses a lot of her speech on her “Lake of the Shining Waters” and her nickname for the cherry tree outside her window, “Snow Queen.” In addition, Snow Queen receives Anne’s first “Merry Christmas!” greeting in this episode. She is instantly thrilled when she wakes up because she can see that her Christmas wish has come true—it is snowing outside—from her bedroom window. She descends the stairs while still in this joyful state. Anne is unaware that while Matthew is pacing the living room, he is considering whether or not she would like the outfit he got her. He put in a lot of effort and time to get this reward. Since she never requested anything, he’s still unsure if she’ll enjoy it. He simply reasoned that she would look more like her friends if she wore a dress with the current fashion trend of puffy arms.
She remarks on how wonderful it is that it is snowing for Christmas as Anne enters. But she does see right away that Matthew is carrying a strange item. Marilla is busy preparing breakfast at the same time, but she is quite curious about Anne’s reaction to the present. When Matthew opens the gift, Anne is taken aback and wonders, “Is this… for me?” She has a wide range of emotions when Matthew tells her that it’s actually for her. She begins to cry because she is so touched by this unexpected gift. Matthew misunderstands her and believes she is upset that the present didn’t suit her.
However, Takahata’s deliberate use of sound design suggests otherwise. I’m content right now. The anime’s opening, most pivotal sequences, such as the one where Marilla decides not to immediately send Anne back to the orphanage and instead allows her to stay at Green Gables, included the same upbeat soundtrack. Takahata creates a strong link between the previous scene and current Christmas one in this way. Upon hearing Marilla declare, “We’ve decided to keep you,” Anne was overcome with joy and hope to the point of tears. Marilla was in the same state of confusion about why she was crying at the time as Matthew is now.
Anne realizes that her fantasy of wearing a dress with puffy arms would always remain a dream, so even though she has high expectations, she is able to appreciate this moment of joyful disbelief because she is grateful for the simple clothes Marilla sewed for her. It makes reasonable in this instance that it takes her a little while to realize that Matthew is giving her a dress as a present. What makes her so thrilled about this gift is that she accepted it with dignity. The fact that Anne is content in this circumstance may help us comprehend why Jesus always admonishes us to have humility. In addition to the obvious advantages, we will be really thrilled when we receive more than we believed we deserved.
Though Anne’s expectations have already been exceeded, things will soon get even better. Mrs. Lynde gives her a dress-coordinating bow. She is then given one final gift by Aunt Josephine: a lovely pair of shoes that complement the rest of her ensemble and that she can wear to the Christmas show. Anne tells her that she must be dreaming since this is too much for her. When she says this, Diana, her astute closest friend, says, “I call it providential.”
We’ll discuss it further in a moment, but for now, provisional is a perfect word for it. But first, let’s see how the remainder of the day unfolds! I included a scenario in the novel when Anne is eager to see what Matthew and Marilla think of her new outfits after trying them on. When Anne enters the room wearing her new dress with the bow and matching shoes, they are both taken aback. It alters their perception of her because they have never seen her looking so elegant. Without a doubt, they can see that this unfortunate girl has grown to be the most significant person in their lives. They’ll stop at nothing to help her now. Since Marilla and Matthew haven’t attended a function in twenty years, they’re attending her Christmas concert, which is significant to them.
Anne and her friends put up fantastic performances, and the show proceeds well. Marilla tells Matthew that she’s pleased of Anne when they arrive home, but she won’t tell her since she’s constantly too scared to bolster her ego. Since he had previously told her he was proud of her before she walked upstairs, Matthew tells her it’s too late. Sighing, Annabel concurs that Anne is now a mature young woman with a keen intellect. As a result, they begin to make plans for her future. If she wishes to continue her education beyond Avonlea, they believe she should enroll in Queen’s Academy. The book chapter comes to an end here, but Takahata includes a poignant scenario. Marilla is afraid of Anne attending Queen’s Academy even though she won’t be able to for a few years. When Anne gently tucks her in at night and checks on her, it’s obvious that they have become close.
Takahata foreshadows a crucial point that Matthew would make later in the narrative by including this extra scene. In actuality, both Marilla and he have blessed Anne, and she has been blessed in turn by them. Matthew doesn’t think she ended up in Green Gables by accident. Thus, it seems to him that God sent her to them because He believed they were in need of her. Here we have the word once more: Wishing you luck. God had always intended for the Cuthbert brothers and Anne to get married and have children. Though Matthew is a kind foster father to Anne, he is also under the protection of a heavenly Father. This family’s ability to enjoy a happy life together in Green Gables is a gift from God. This is something that the Bible warns us to avoid: “Do not be fooled, my beloved brothers.” Since good and perfect things originate from above and come from the Father of lights, there is no distinction or shade created by change. (James 1:16–17)
Since the start of the narrative, Anne has been endowed with a gentle, modest, and appreciative disposition. Even if Marilla could be a little more understanding, she knew that Marilla only had her best interests in mind when she was being harsh, so she never felt that Marilla was frigid. Although they would have preferred a male to assist Matthew in running the farm, the Cuthberts gratefully consented to provide Elizabeth with a safe place to remain. With time, they discovered just how beneficial Anne was to them. When she was living there, they were all better and happy.
We can learn a lot from Anne. Being grateful makes her happier when things are going well and helps her get through difficult times. Her modest demeanor has not only made a significant impact on Marilla but also on the other individuals in her immediate circle. It’s understandable why Anne first disliked Aunt Josephine and Mrs. Rachel Lynde. While Aunt Josephine is a prime example of an ill-mannered old rich aunt, Mrs. Rachel appears to be a typical nosy individual. These are legitimate points, but Anne is gracious enough to see past them. Mrs. Rachel is not perfect, but she is a decent person. Anne can’t wait for Aunt Josephine to arrive since she has grown to be like a devoted grandmother to her. These difficult individuals became like family to Anne because she was kind and deliberate in her decision-making. She wouldn’t have been able to receive any of the gifts without them, therefore they made this show humorous. Not even the dress, as Mrs. Rachel sewed it herself after selecting the cloth! However, those who are familiar with Anne’s tale will recall that she wasn’t always that charitable. Gilbert Blythe is one young man; learn to be a little kinder and more understanding to him! Her primary aim is that.
We can learn a lot from Matthew as well. When Marilla asked Matthew what adopting Anne would mean for them, he took the unthinkable step. “We might be some good to her,” he remarked. Acts 20:35 reveals that Jesus desires for us to adopt a different perspective: “I was attempting to remind you of what the Lord Jesus stated: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” Strive to assist the weak. The concept behind this is that by considering what we can do to support others, we may discover that doing so benefits ourselves just as much as it does them. Matthew and Marilla came to understand this as a fact.
This Christmas, let’s practice humility by considering what we can do to help our friends and family. When we treat people with respect, it makes us realize how fortunate we are. Ultimately, the greatest present from our heavenly Father may not be exactly how we anticipate. But despite the fact that life is full of ups and downs, we are aware that God remains constant. There is no end to his affection for us. The same thing is said by Anne: “God is in his heaven, everything in the world is fine.”