What can we learn from Christmas movies?

December 1st has come and gone, and we are now undeniably in Christmas jumper, minced pie and mulled wine season. Christmas brings a whole host of nostalgic traditions, not least, the Christmas movie. 

What’s your favourite? Mine is Elf – the comedy starring Will Ferrell as Buddy, a human raised as an elf in the North Pole, searching for his real father in New York. Buddy’s love for candy and Christmas leaves him struggling to negotiate the world of dating, appropriate dress code and more. It’s a story of, not only romantic love, but bringing together a family who are breaking away from one another. 

Love is all around us

Amongst the nostalgia and cheese most Christmas movies have one running theme in common. You probably guessed it – it’s ‘love’.

Whether Love Actually (no need to imagine what the film is about), which celebrates both family and romance, or The Holiday, a story of rediscovery, and yep also romance, love a central theme. Love in all its forms is something we can’t help but sentimentalise at Christmas time. 

In amongst the unforgivable cheese, the recently released Last Christmas features a heartwarming story of bringing light to some of the homeless population in London. And then you have The Snowman, which tells the tale of adventure and unique friendship. 

Even a film better known for its comedy, like Home Alone features a mother who is desperate to get home to her son, and is willing to move heaven and earth to do so. The final scene when Kevin McCallister is reunited with his Mum (to the swell of the iconic theme tune) is a beautiful picture of the love between a parent a child.

The greatest love of all

While our culture celebrates the love between humans (and sometimes snowmen) at this festive time of year, I’m reminded of the far greater love that we celebrate at Christmas. The bible tells us  that ‘we love because he first loved us’ (1 John 4:19). In the greatest act of love, God sent his only son to be born as a baby and eventually die on a cross so that our relationship with God could be fully restored.

This love can never fail (or melt) and doesn’t depend on us travelling great distances, reconnecting with our earthly family, or having the perfect Christmas romance. This love is steadfast and unshakable, a love where heaven and earth really was moved to save us.

Sharing is caring

But just as God shared his love with the whole of creation, let’s not keep this to ourselves this Christmas. Imagine if Christmas was known to be a time of year not only for presents and celebrating with loved ones, but also where we looked outwards to our community and our world. What if Christmas was reminder to be intentional about spreading acts of kindness and care.

In the words of Buddy, ‘the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear’.  This year, you could spread Christmas cheer by remembering to love those living in poverty. Why not try celebrating Christmas ethically, volunteering at a homeless shelter, or asking people for a donation to charity rather than a present? These are just a few suggestions – there are so many ways to love others this Christmas.

You may love Christmas movies, or may watch them with despair, but this year my hope is that they will help point you to the true meaning of Christmas.

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