Can Tissue-Paper Thin Christmas Movies Echo Advent?Dec 19, 2022
I have a confession. With apologies to readers who will not be thrilled to know this, I am not a lover of H***mark Christmas movies. I’m not a hater, either. It’s just I’m too well acquainted with the realities of small-town pettiness, single parenting & blended family struggles, and small business hardships to be able to set all that experience aside. Let’s be honest.
In the movies, small towns are adorable, big cities synonymous with evil; kids are perfect, current boyfriend/fiance is always a selfish jerk; mom & pop shops still operating 1950’s-style have hearts bigger than Wyoming, CEO’s might as well dress in a Grinch suit.
And of course, Ms. Gorgeous Blonde Fashionista has no problem shaking off the lifestyle, job, and friends she’s worked years to acquire because two weeks (or less) helping Mr. Handsome Flannel Shirt save the local children’s art-dance-music-gardening center from a huge corporation’s plan to demolish it. Seems they’ve decided this is the prime national location for a pickle processing plant. Apparently with no thought to a non-existent labor force or nearby transportation system. See…I told you I have a hard time setting reality aside.
But isn’t that what Christmas is all about?
About setting the “reality” of our experience aside to step into a bigger reality.
About humbling acknowledging there’s a real-ness, despite what we may feel, that gives our day-to-dayness a bigger significance than we can yet see. Or imagine.
That there is a “happy ever-after.”
It doesn’t come wrapped in relationships – not matter how sparkly and twinkle-eyed they make us. It’s not delivered in promotions or paychecks or property acquisition. It doesn’t arrive in achievements, awards, or accolades.
It’s a belief. The kind of radical belief which has us walking away from pursuing gold – which is only heaven’s pavement material, after all. The outrageous notion which empowers us to choose grace – which sounds like a splendid symphony in theory but a cow giving birth in application. The ridiculous assertion that our choices here on a tiny speck in the universe – where life is measured in hours and limited to less decades than we have fingers -- have eternal consequences unbounded by time or space.
I guess it's not so unlike Ms. About-to-be-Made-Firm-Partner’s hunch that position isn't going to fulfill her.
"Happy ever after" isn't a popular theme because women have an insatiable appetite for trim & toned dudes wearing plaid lumberjack shirts. It's not because they're begging their real-life husbands who are doctors, attorneys, bankers, and C-suite executives to move back home to tiny-town USA and take over the four-generation-family Christmas tree farm. It's deeper than that, realized or not.
We're wired for "happy ever after." Not because of magic kingdoms or card/movie companies' savvy marketing.
The shows speak a language our heart knows, even when our mind has forgotten it. It whispers, "All will be well." Softly enough not to scare us; loudly enough to captivate us.
And it will. Some day. He promises. Not the guy driving the basic-model pick-up truck but the One who slept in a modest manager.
Until then, there will always be questions. Hard, gut-wrenching questions. Like, "God, you warned the wise men in a dream to not go back to Herod after finding Jesus. Why didn't you tell them not to go and see him in the first place? Did you hear the sound of the innocent slaughter of children and parents who grieved for the remainder of their lives that resulted from Herold's jealousy?"
I don't grasp ahold of the belief that this world's Savior lay in a Bethlehem manager, born of a virgin, because I have the answer to that question.
I cling because I believe -- in spite of unanswered questions.
I cling because I believe -- in spite of an inability to prove it -- the only Hope of the world has come. And his name is Emmanuel -- God With Us.
I cling because I believe -- in spite of all the evidence my five senses weigh -- there is a "Happy Ever After" -- and he will show up and sweep us into his arms and say, "Welcome Home. You're the one I've been waiting for."
Until then, maybe I need to rethink my approach to Christmas movies with plots thin as tissue paper but packed full with an echo of Bethlehem's skies: Someone out of this world has come -- and will come again.
©Stephanie D. Smith, 2022
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