This 2011 Christmas Special sees the Doctor using another ‘alias’ when he introduces himself to Madge Arwell and her two children, Lily and Cyril as ‘The Caretaker’, but not just of their Uncle Digby’s house in Dorset where they plan to spend Christmas away from the ‘Blitz’ in WWII London; apparently he intends to ‘take care’ for them as well.
Madge: That’s not what caretakers do.
Doctor: Then why are they called caretakers?
A good question, Doctor, for care this family certainly needs, since Reg Arwell’s Lancaster bomber has been lost over the Channel while returning from a raid and Marge has received a telegram to that effect which she cannot bear to share with her children at Christmas.
So here they all are at Uncle Digby’s where the Caretaker has made some modifications to that old country house including lemonade on tap in the kitchen, hammocks for the children (since he has so filled their room with toys and other wonderful activities that there is no room for beds) and ‘the best Christmas tree in the world’ (according to Cyril).
But it is the huge blue box in the parlour (no, not that Blue Box; rather a Christmas present for the Arwells) that leads to trouble when Cyril cannot resist opening it early. He finds that it is a doorway to another world, including a forest of ‘naturally occurring Christmas Trees’ and his explorations result in the appearance of a Wooden King whom he follows to a strange tower in the middle of the forest.
By then the Doctor is in pursuit with Lily in tow, followed soon after by an anxious Madge whose worries are not eased when she encounters three intergalactic lumberjacks (from ‘Androzani Major’ in the year 5345) who tell her that the forest is about to be ‘harvested’ by acid rain and anyone caught in that will surely be killed. So much for the Caretaker!
Now that’s all I will tell of the story except to say that Mother Madge out-cares the caretaker, saves the ‘life force’ of the forest, flies her children (and their caretaker) home through space and time, in the process becoming the light that Reg is able to follow in his Lancaster which he soon safely parks on Digby’s front lawn; all in time for Christmas!
Who’s to say that the Doctor’s efforts at care-taking were flawed? In the end a family was reunited, lives were saved and the Doctor himself was encouraged (by Madge) to arrive at the Ponds for Christmas Dinner, where a place was waiting for him, prepared as usual in expectation and hope that he would come; perfect!
Is there anyone to whom we can turn when our world is collapsing around us, when our families and our hearts are broken; even at times when our pain, if we are altogether honest, is largely the result of our own wilful wanderings through doorways that we had better left unopened ?
The Old Testament prophet Nahum wrote, ‘The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him,’ Nahum 1:7
That is an assurance taken up by the apostle Peter who wrote, ‘Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.’ 1 Peter 5:6, 7
So, yes; God, in Christ, cares for us. When we humble ourselves, turn to him and trust him, the LORD of Time and Eternity cares for us. In even the most distressing and seemingly hopeless of situations He comes; He has come for us.
‘And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.’
Romans 8:28 NLT