Many people wait anxiously for Christmas movies to start showing. I have to admit that there are some that I love and take the time to watch year after year – always with a box of tissues handy. Many of them have lines that are memorable and easily recognizable. Which of these do you know?
And if you have seen them all, which is your favourite?
I will always have a fond spot for the original (even if the new one with Jim Carrey is funny). This is one of the books that I always read to the children during Advent. It’s funny and suspenseful and everyone loves to pull out a recording of You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch. Admit it – you sing along, too.
Before he had his change of heart, singing was what the Grinch liked least of all. Every once in a while I come across people who hate Christmas music, but I look forward to it all year. In order to keep the songs special, though, I usually steer clear of all Christmas songs until Advent. My one exception – kicking off the Christmas Kettle Appeal with the Salvation Army.
But once Advent arrives, break out the music. You’ll know my car when it goes by, because the music is cranked! O Come O Come Emmanuel, Love Comes Down, Days of Elijah, It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, Silver Bells, We Need A Little Christmas …
Surround yourself with the music of the season and sing along.
Resist commercial pressures
The Grinch learned that Christmas doesn’t come from a store. And it doesn’t. A Christmas based on gifts and decorations will never have the life-changing effect of a Christ-centered Christmas.
Of course, as the Whos show, there is nothing at all wrong with decorations and celebrations and gifts. Christmas was traditionally a long festival of constant feasting that began on Christmas Eve and ran until January 6. It is the biggest party of the year and our joy and delight should echo through the heavens.
Let your heart grow bigger
Seuss suspected that the Grinch suffered from a heart two sizes too small (or perhaps his shoes were too tight). As soon as his heart grew three sizes larger he brought back the toys and decorations he stole, put everything right and got to love his new friends in Whoville. His epiphany – that Christmas was “just a little bit more” than gifts and decorations – changed his heart.
Be aware of, and respond with kindness, to loving acts from unexpected sources. The Whos down in Whoville were pleased to have their new friend there, even if there had been a history of problems with him. Remember that the Grinch even carved the roast beast. When confronted with someone who is attempting to change their ways, try to remember the Whos – who, after all, liked Christmas a lot. They forgave him and accepted this new and loving Grinch.
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I have to admit that I can’t get through Christmas without watching this at least once, and crying myself through an entire box of tissues. (However, because of Tiny Tunes Christmas Special, I will always say “No toon is a failure who has friends!” No – don’t buy it through that link. The price is horrendous. Just go look.)
One person really can make a difference
While the challenges around us can seem overwhelming sometimes, what we do has effects that we often don’t even realize. George Bailey leads a modest life, but he prevents good old Bedford Falls from turning into a sleazy Pottersville, just be being himself.
Sometimes it really is hard to realize how important our smallest actions are. We have all heard the poem about how, for want of a shoe, a horse was lost …. leading all the way up to a kingdom being lost. Every day, in many different ways, you and I are that all important little horseshoe.
Don’t discount the importance of your actions.
We can always create better outcomes
There is so much talk these days about “toxic” people. I have even fallen into this trap, but it’s unfair to … well, everyone. There is not a person alive who is all good or all bad. We all possess a mix of constructive and destructive qualities. By appealing to the good in people, George helps them to succeed in every walk of life.
Look for the good in people. There is not a single person who is past redemption. This time of year, more than any other, we should be aware of this. Christmas is a celebration – observed all over the world and even by those who don’t believe in Christ – of the day that the Son of Man took earthly form so that He could bridge the separation between God and man. Christianity teaches that we are all in need of a Saviour and therefore none of us has a high horse to look down on so-called “toxic people”.
No one is so “toxic” that they can’t be redeemed.
Welcome help from others.
As powerful as George is, he still needs Clarence, the angel, to help him through a rough night. We often think of ourselves as too weak, too broken, too “something” to help others.
I will let you in on a secret. I’m just as broken, weak, wounded and limping as you are. Last night, instead of writing this, I spent a long time chatting with a friend, crying and looking for help to get through my own pain and guilt and problems. Don’t ever think that I’m perfect. (Hopefully nothing in my writing has ever suggested that I am!)
Poor Clarence who didn’t have his wings yet. Such a bumbling angel. Just like you … and me.
Be someone else’s angel.
You can watch the entire It’s a Wonderful Life right here. These are the times I just love technology!
Originally written as a novella, it’s name was A Christmas Carol in Prose: Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. Yes, a ghost story. This story is about death, poverty, miserliness, guilt, misery and consumerism based on the labour of the poor. And yet, despite all of this, it has resounded since its publication as one those amazing tales that speaks to the human spirit.
One thing to remember as you watch (or read) A Christmas Carol – this was a time in which presents and decorations were handmade, Christmas cards had only just appeared, Prince Albert was trying to introduce “that pretty German toy” – the Christmas tree – and Santa Claus did not exist. Most of the traditions that we now take for granted were new or not yet in practice.
Teach old dogs new tricks
We may sometimes feel that our habits are too ingrained to change. Scrooge’s dramatic change reminds us that everyone can change.
Lest we are too quick to justify his early behavior, Ebenezer is the one who declares early on that “every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.”
In the end, though, Ebenezer Scrooge learns … to have fun. He learns to take joy in the pleasure of others and to enjoy life to its full. Being a miser and clinging to possessions and money is just flat out not fun!
Pay attention to your dreams
We spend about a third of our life sleeping, so a lot happens when our eyes are closed. While Scrooge’s visits and experiences weren’t necessarily dreams, a lot can happen during sleep. Visions, prophetic dreams, and even the answers to problems that are plaguing us – all of these are possible.
Come to terms with your past
I recently heard someone say that they had a great-aunt who “had a skeleton buried under every rose bush in the county.” Most of like to keep ours buried a little closer, somewhere we can keep an eye on them.\
But almost all of us have them.
In the case of Scrooge, his stinginess cost him the love of his former fiancee.
Sometimes it’s very easy to lock our skeletons in closets or bury them under a rose bush. The problem, though, is that we can’t change anything about ourselves until we face, accept and embrace our past. That doesn’t mean you need to carry those skeletons around with you everywhere. Imagine if Scrooge went around forever with those three Ghosts! But coming to terms with your past means that you can lay those skeletons to rest for good.
The Cratchit family remains cheerful in spite of their poverty. Tiny Tim appreciates his blessings even though he’s poor and crippled. While it is not always possible to be happy, we can always be joyful no matter the circumstances. When I was a young, we sang a little chorus that said, “Hallelujah anyhow. Ain’t gonna let my worries get me down. Whatever the trials of life may bring, I’ll hold my head up high and sing hallelujah anyhow.”
Just like putting those skeletons to rest, this isn’t always easy. When life’s trials seem overwhelming, it might be (as Leonard Cohen sang), a cold and very broken Hallelujah. But sing it anyhow.
It’s Christmas, friends – go classic and watch this 1951 version! Immerse yourself in the overly dramatic acting and just enjoy the redemption of old Scrooge!
Other Holiday Programs and Movies
Focus on others
Am I showing my age here? Steven Spielberg’s cartoon, “Pinky and the Brain,” is probably the most quoted cartoon in our house! This hilarious cartoon is about more than a laboratory mouse trying to take over the world.
The friendship between the two mice shines through when Brain reads Pinky’s tear-jerking letter to Santa.
There is always a time for peace
The true story of the 1914 Christmas truce is captured in “Joyeux Noel.”
If German, French and Scottish troops can call a ceasefire on one Christmas Eve, maybe we can all be more peaceful. The fear and distrust that they had to overcome is incredible.
I find it hard to keep dry eyes when watching this one.
“Miracle on 34th Street” looks like it was ahead of its time in questioning consumerism. It’s also timeless in affirming the importance of faith. Even if you don’t promote the Santa story, it’s a fabulous movie.
The holiday season is now officially upon us, as Americans clean up after Thanksgiving.
Advent begins on November 27 and for many households – like ours – Christmas doesn’t end until January 6.
But whatever you celebrate this season, my prayer is that you have a blessed and joyful one, filled with love and friendship, hugs and reunions, celebrations and festivities.