What Home Alone Teaches Us About Pre and Procrastination

Since this holiday season has been quieter than most, I’ve taken advantage of the extra time to re-watch holiday classics like It’s a Wonderful Life, The Muppet Christmas Carol, and Home Alone. While my intention wasn’t to do close readings of the films for precrastination and procrastination examples, I couldn’t help but find that Home Alone offered valuable lessons for precrastinators and procrastinators alike.

Here are three highlights and lessons learned thanks to Kevin McCallister and his family.

Spoiler alert: If you haven’t seen Home Alone, or haven’t seen it in a while, fair warning that there are a few spoilers below.

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Top Four Precrastination and Procrastination Highlights from Home Alone

  1. Procrastination & Relationships
    • Kevin bumps into his “scary” neighbor, the older gentleman Marley, at a choir rehearsal in church on Christmas Eve. Kevin learns that the performance is the only way Marley will get to see his granddaughter, who is singing in the choir, since he and his grown son are estranged. When Kevin suggests that Marley call his son, Marley admits to being afraid to do so, worrying that his son won’t be willing to talk to him. Kevin encourages him not to wait any longer, since the worst case is that he’ll find out the son truly won’t talk to him, and at least then he’ll no longer have to wonder. Either way, Kevin suggests, he owes it to his granddaughter to try.
    • Lesson: Don’t put off calling a loved one to say you care, even if you’re not sure how they’ll respond.
  2. Precrastination & Taking the Long Way Home
    • You know who’s a relatable precrastinator? Kate McCallister, Kevin’s mom. Upon landing in Paris and discovering that Kevin was left back in Chicago, Kate (understandably) panics. She makes it her mission to get back home as quickly as possible, no matter what it takes. She throws herself into action, seeming to need to be in motion as she tries to physically get back to her son: she’s willing to sell all her jewelry; she stays awake for 60+ consecutive hours; she gets stuck in a snowstorm in Scranton and rides the rest of the way in a van with a polka band. When she finally arrives back on Christmas morning, she is stunned to find that the rest of her family walks in the door just minutes later. How did they get home so quickly? Her husband responds: “Oh, we took the morning flight, remember? The one you didn’t want to wait for.”
    • Lesson: Stop and think before deciding what the most efficient path is. It might not be the one that’s right in front of you!
  3. Preinclination: Watching out for Your Future Self in a Way That’s Delightful for Your Present Self
    • If you know the plot of the film, you know that Kevin goes to great lengths to watch out for his future self. He wastes no time in making plans and putting them into action. But the best part is that he does so in a way that brings good humor and delight to himself and his audience in the present. I won’t go into all the details of his strategy to thwart the Wet Bandits, but suffice it to say: Kevin McCallister may be my new precrastination inspiration.
    • Lesson: No matter how stressful the circumstances, try to keep things in perspective and, where possible, infuse a little joy.
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Have you noticed examples of pre and procrastination in the films you watch or books you read? Tell us at team@preinclined.com!

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox

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