The Spiritual Side of Christmas Movies
Did you know December 23 is National Christmas Movie Marathon Day? I learned about it only recently, and it led me to some reflection. What’s with this modern-day phenomenon around Christmas movies?
I can’t speak for everyone, but it’s like a season for me. It signals the start of the holidays (albeit a bit early for some). I can’t wait until Hallmark posts the release date of its first Christmas movie, and I refresh my Hallmark movie app with all the forthcoming titles.
But why? Why do I brim with excitement and anticipation for another round of these films, which have the same seven plotlines year after year? Why has the act of watching them become a ritual that might rival those experienced in church?
For many of us, getting lost in Christmas movies allows us to escape these sharp edges and be transported to a place so many of us still dream is possible, surrounded by small-town kindness and dreams that do come true.
For the movie ritual at my house, we gather our blankets and hot chocolate or a nice glass of wine. We assemble our snacks, which must include sugar cookies, for it seems every movie features the best-looking sugar cookies ever. We have learned over the years that if we don’t include the cookies, the movie unleashes an insurmountable craving for them, so now we just include them in our movie-watching setup. Then, drinks and snacks in hand, we dim the lights and turn on every twinkling decoration we have to set the mood for a movie marathon.
Transformation on the Silver Screen
It would seem these movies kindle and awaken a certain nostalgia in many of us, memories from our younger years of simpler times, gentler times, when the planet didn’t seem to be filled with the conflict and harsh rhetoric so prevalent today. For many of us, getting lost in Christmas movies allows us to escape these sharp edges and be transported to a place so many of us still dream is possible, surrounded by small-town kindness and dreams that do come true.
Believe it or not, I actually think this movie watching can be a healthy habit. Donning our spiritual lens for a moment, we can allow these movies to serve as our affirmation of what the world could and should be. We can take personal lessons from the characters’ struggles and courage in overcoming, their maturation as they move from self-doubt to belief and self-acceptance. We can model the same principles of kindness, generosity, and sacrifice, incorporating them into our own consciousness and expression. Home Alone, my favorite movie of all time, Christmas or not, incorporates a sampling of all these characteristics. It also reminds us to laugh along the way.
Finally, it wouldn’t be right to have a discourse about Christmas movies without addressing the single largest controversy in the arena. Is the movie Die Hard with Bruce Willis a Christmas movie? The answer lies in the eye of the beholder. For those who firmly say yes, I would submit that it must somehow rekindle the elements we discussed earlier. Perhaps it is the hero’s journey that touches us in this action-packed thrill ride with shoot-outs and explosions that, yes, take place at Christmas. Whatever it may be, let us include and embrace the Die Hard fans as cohorts in our Christmas-movie-watching family. After all, happy togetherness is how the plot would unfold in a Christmas movie.
This holiday season, may we be blessed as people are in Christmas movies—each of us finding our true love while saving the town factory, community center, historic Christmas festival, or cherished local inn. May we transform our hearts from Scrooge to service, and may all our most Christmassy dreams come true.