Why I’m Proudly Celebrating Jim Henson’s 86th Birthday

Published: September 23, 2022
Categories: Feature, Fun Stuff

Muppet fans, it is with warm holiday cheer that I wish you a joyous and blessed Jim Henson’s Birthday Eve! Jim Henson was born on September the 24th 86 years ago, and we’re overcome with merriment and good tidings as we at ToughPigs celebrate this special time of year. I trust you’re wearing your frog collar, Swinetrek badge, and full Skeksis regalia to celebrate.

For those of you who don’t know, my name is J.D., and I’m ToughPigs.com’s Master of Henson Holidays. It’s a leadership role that’s very important to me. This means I write the ToughPigs articles for Jim Henson’s Birthday every year – I encourage you to read last year’s – but it’s much more than that. It’s a spiritual leadership position that comes with great responsibility. I lead the rest of the team in the annual ceremony, which, even now that it’s virtual, is a time of togetherness that we all cherish. It is an honor and a privilege to lead the ToughPigs community in ceremonially cutting the green coat, painting the elephants pink, and carving the Esskay Meats every year.

That having been said, it is in many ways a troublesome time to be a Master of Henson Holidays. Do you know why? Take a guess.

Wrong! I actually like the part where I have to stomp around barefoot in the Mississippi mud. The troublesome part is seeing firsthand how this holiday isn’t what it used to be. This might sound hard to believe, but many Muppet fans don’t really celebrate it much at all! Can you believe it?! Sure, they’ll acknowledge it with a picture on Facebook they pulled from Muppet Wiki and say something sappy like, “Happy birthday to my inspiration, my hero, and my idol, Jim Henson. I named all of my children after you.” Like that means anything! It’s pathetic. It’s sad. So what’s going on here?

The answer is simple: there is a war on Jim Henson’s birthday.

To be clear, I’m not just saying that wars have taken place on September 24th coincidentally. I imagine there were plenty of wars before Jim Henson was born, when nobody knew it was a day when wars aren’t allowed. So I guess those wars were probably fine. How should I know? What I’m trying to say is that plenty of people must hate Jim Henson, and that’s the only conceivable reason for them to act like they don’t think about him every day.

If you haven’t noticed the war on Jim Henson’s Birthday yourself, don’t feel bad! It’s meant to be hard to notice. I can honestly say that I’ve never heard a single mention of the war on Jim Henson’s Birthday on any of the mainstream news stations I don’t watch or in any of the newspapers I don’t read. I had to figure it out on my own, but now you don’t have to – I’ll walk you through the steps of seeing this secret war for yourself.

The first thing I noticed was the changes in the everyday conversations I had with people. On the first day of September last year, I went to work in my Ernie shirt and flippers and began decorating the office with Muppet fur. My co-worker, Courtney, saw me and didn’t wish me a Happy Henson Birthday. Instead she said, “Good morning! How are you?” Jerk. I nearly ripped her head off.

Later that month, when I was buying my Jimmy Dean breakfasts at the grocery store, the cashier at checkout didn’t make any mention of Jim Henson or the Muppets at all. He just said, “Hi! Did you find everything okay?”

I said, “No, I don’t find your attitude okay,” and I asked to speak with the manager. Astonishingly, despite how much restraint I showed in my polite talk with the manager, I was told to leave the store after throwing my basket at him! You might experience the same thing when you buy your shredded wheat and cranberry sauce this year.

The most disappointing of these experiences was a few weeks ago when I got pulled over for texting and driving (which was actually not true – I was typing and driving just like I’m doing now, but nobody would listen). This tiny, mustached police officer just said, “Sir, do you know how fast you were going?” Neither he nor his little cow friend wished me so much as a “Weeba Weeba.” There’s nothing quite as scary for an American as seeing your rights to exclusive holiday greetings infringed upon.

After that, the erasure of Jim Henson was all I could think about. I started asking the questions they don’t want us to ask. Why are they opening up Spirit Halloween stores instead of Ghost of Faffner Hall Halloween stores? Why do supermarkets have so many products that Jim Henson never advertised? Why do the decorations at home decor stores say “Happy Fall” instead of “Happy Fall in a hall, see it crawl, give its all, hear it call, ‘Hi, y’all!’ See it stall, wear a shawl, oh yeah!”

The moment I knew I had to write about this was when I was at my local bookstore, checking to make sure that they had enough copies of Jim Henson: The Biography in stock, as I often do. They had a few copies, but I asked the staff why they weren’t placed on the display they had up front for “essential classic books.” They told me the display featured books that students often read when they go back to school. Well, guess what I found on display!

The Great Gatsby.

I’m no fool. I see what’s going on here. The average Joe might think, “Oh, they’re probably trying to make sure everyone’s ready for the Muppet version that will definitely get made someday!” Not me. Am I supposed to think it’s a coincidence that they put this book on display in September? Ha! Do you know who wrote The Great Gatsby? F. Scott Fitzgerald!! DO YOU KNOW WHEN HIS BIRTHDAY IS?!?! IT’S SEPTEMBER 24TH YOU FOOLS!!!1!

…Listen. I can be reasonable. I believe that the fans of F. Scott Fitzgerald should be allowed to exist! Just not in September. In September, their existence is an attack on Jim Henson fans, and that’s just not very tolerant of them. They need to stop.

This is why I’m standing up to this oppression by celebrating my holiday as loudly and proudly as I can. So what if everyone else at the office is freaked out by the Fizzgig plush I hid in every other drawer? They should be thanking me for spreading the spirit of Jim Henson with them. 

In a sense, it’s an act of defiance to celebrate this day in any way at all, while we still can. We at ToughPigs get a lot of joy out of all the private celebrating we do together (which, I must reiterate, you are not allowed to take part in if you aren’t on the ToughPigs team), like when we roast Firey body parts on an open fire. Sometimes we like to just stay inside and watch home movies of when we played together as babies before we met. It’s moments like these that help us keep Jim Henson with us all through the year. I hope you’ll do the same.

Or, alternatively, be good to each other. Love and forgive everybody. Have fun.

Click here to hang Gelflings by the fireplace on the ToughPigs forum!

by JD Hansel

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