It seems the older I get, the busier Christmas becomes. I always seem to have so much I want to do and so little time to do it. This year, I'm dealing with two book deadlines at the same time. I have bought a total of one present so far. My house is a wreck.
But it is Christmas.
The whole world stops for Christmas.
I stop with it.
Of course Jesus is the reason for the season. If He had not come, we would have nothing celebrate, no matter what "holidays" people make up to try to obfuscate what the season is about. But apart from the lovely story of God who became Man and dwelt among us, there are three lesser stories I try to take time for every year.
I always watch some version of Scrooge/A Christmas Carol. There are dozens of delightful ones out there, some modern, some musical, some even with a female Scrooge. Traditionalist that I am, I love the versions set in the middle of the nineteenth century, in the bitter cold of a London December and the grim run-down offices of Scrooge and Marley. But whichever version I watch, I am always touched by the story. As Scrooge looks back on his life and forward to what lies in store for him, I cannot help doing the same myself, pondering my faults and pledging to do better, to keep Christmas in my heart all the year round.
I also watch It's a Wonderful Life. I think Jimmy Stewart is great as George Bailey, the man who has put others first all his life and who finally, in a moment of despair, wishes he had never been born. Then, to his horror, he gets to see what would have happened to all his loved ones without him. He realizes that even his ordinary, humdrum life is truly wonderful and that he, in his dependability and selflessness, has touched many more lives and has many, many more friends than he would have ever imagined. When I watch this movie, I'm reminded that there is great worth in steadfastness and self-sacrifice even when it doesn't seem to be valued at all.
And, of course, I never miss How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the animated version. Yes, it's not even half a hour long, but it needs no padding. In just a few minutes, this gaudy little children's tale packs quite a punch. Deliciously voiced by the great Boris Karloff himself, the Grinch, after he's stolen all of the decorations and treats and presents (even the Jing Tinglers and Flu Floopers and even the roast beast!), cannot understand how the Whos down in Whoville could still gather together and sing in celebration of Christmas Day. Christmas came whether or not they had Christmas "stuff." I always get a bit choked up when the Grinch's heart grows three sizes and when he and his sweet little dog, Max, come to have Christmas dinner with the Whos.
These three movies are quite different from each other in style and tone, but all of them have the same timeless message: You haven't gone too far. It's not too late to change. You can be better than you were. God gives second chances. And third. And fourth. It's not too late. It's not too late. It's not too late.
I watch these movies each December, and then I look forward to the coming January with a renewed vision for my life and a new hope in my heart. Scrooge, George Bailey and the Grinch all started again. I, too, can start again and so can you. It's not too late.
Merry Christmas, and God bless us every one!
What are your Christmas movie favorites? Why? Have you watched them this year?