I write this in the days after Christmas, having watched parts of countless movies, some old, and some new. My wife loves Christmas and spent the last few weeks addicted to the Hallmark Channel. It got me thinking about Christmas movies.
As long as there have been movies we’ve experienced movies about Christmas. Charles Dickens (1812-1870) may have started this with his novel A Christmas Carol, first published in 1843.
The first half of the 20th Century gave us movies that many of us remember from our childhood. I can’t keep up with the number versions of A Christmas Carol but that was far from the only Christmas movie. We also enjoyed It’s A Wonderful Life, White Christmas, Holiday Inn, Miracle on 34th Street, and A Charlie Brown Christmas (among several other cartoons).
All of these movies explored some aspect of conversion. Some character, normally the main character, found his life was changed by the birth of a child 2,000 years ago.
Ebeneezer Scrooge recognized that his choice of profit over love wouldn’t go well for him. George Bailey learned that his life made him a hero, not a sucker. Charlie Brown learned that his heart captured the real meaning of Christmas and he’s not a blockhead.
The birth of a child calls all of us to recognize the possibilities of new life. I think all of us see a newborn and wonder where his (or her) path will lead and hope it’s a path that’s good for everyone. And I think we watch these Christmas movies to remind ourselves of the reality of this.
That said, I have to confess I watch parts of several Hallmark movies with a little concern. In fairness Hallmark is a for profit company and they make movies to make money, not to remind us of who we are.
But if what I saw indicates anything it indicates this: We celebrate Christmas because it allows young, beautiful people to find each other and fall in love. A young man moves back to his hometown and connects with an old girlfriend and they find they were destined from the start. A young woman accepts a job promotion and works alongside a man who seems arrogant but really is trying to heal from a toxic breakup.
This may mark me as a grumpy old man but these movies trouble me. The birth of Jesus didn’t inaugurate a new world where young, beautiful people can finally find each other and fall in love. The birth of Jesus meant that people like Ebeneezer Scrooge and George Bailey and Charlie Brown were more valued than they thought.
And if Faux News finds out about this please understand that this isn’t an attack on the Hallmark Channel or another example on the war on Christmas.
It’s just a reflection from an old guy in California.