I love holiday movies. I start watching them in November and begin a countdown to see how many I can squash into my schedule before Christmas Day. Last year my tally was 43, so it’s fair to say that by the time 25 December rolled around, I was overflowing with Christmas spirit.
I’m not sure what it is about Christmas movies that make me so excited—perhaps seeing so many happy families, wholesome characters, and trees covered in snow makes me feel naively hopeful again. Which is sort of ironic, considering a typical Christmas Day in Australia can be the exact opposite of this.
It doesn’t take me long to pick the ending of the movies I watch. Within minutes I can tell you who will fall in love, which family will be reconciled, and who will learn to prioritise family over work.
Clichéd as this all sounds, I think that’s what makes them so appealing—these movies are perfect, well unless you’re the Wet Bandits opposing Home Alone’s Macaulay Culkin. But on the whole, anyone facing a crisis or (even worse) a lack of holiday spirit, is magically ‘fixed’ after 90 minutes, and there’s still time left for a Christmas carol to round up a satisfactory story-line.
The problem? Well, Christmas movies aren’t real. And while it’s devastating as a kid when you realise Tim Allen’s Santa Claus isn’t coming down your chimney, what’s worse is the feeling that, come 25 December, you don’t have it all together. Christmas Day is all about celebration, but more often than not, we’re all left wanting more.
For some it is a day of grief and sadness. For others it is a day they must battle to get through unscathed. Some people are so stressed that Christmas becomes more of a hindrance than a holiday, and when we are alone, the day seems to perpetuate our isolation.
Christmas is not always a happy time of year, which is why I’m grateful we have a reason to find hope in the birth of Jesus. John chapter 1 verse 14 tells us that, “The Word [God] became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
The God who made Heaven and Earth chose to come to us that first Christmas to show we are not alone in our pain. Even as a newborn baby, Jesus had the ability to draw imperfect people of all backgrounds together—and to a stable nonetheless. Yet it was the happiest day of their lives. Why? Because finally hope had come into the world and his name was Jesus.
Christmas may not be perfect, but if you’re looking for a reason to celebrate, go to your local church and join them for their service or meal. Jesus came to show us we don’t have to do life alone—so reach out to him this Christmas and see what he has for you.