I’ve always loved Christmas. There is something about this time of year that just FEELS very special. Call me sentimental, but I enjoy when the temperature drops in September (SOMETIMES-in TX, not often), and thinking, “Hey, Christmas is coming.” There’s a spirit that’s in the air. Yes, there’s the hustle and bustle, and yes there is the stress of getting together with family, especially the extended ones, and yes, there’s a brutality to the season with trying to get so many things accomplished by the end of the year, gifts, and jobs wrapping up, etc . . . but I realize this year that my favorite Christmas moments are in the still, quiet ones, sometimes even those that are spent alone.
There is an element of reflection that accompanies this time of year. It’s December after all, and there have been an entire 12 months of the year that have passed, with friendships made and lost, victories gained, and failures realized, special moments experienced, and some precious ones that passed too quickly by. I find it rejuvenating and even healing to stop and sit and look at my lights at the end of the day this time of year and simply think and reflect.
Every year I attempt to write 2-3 plays, and I’ve been recently working on another Christmas one. Writing in general always comes with some severe bouts of writer’s block or dry spells, and so in those moments I’ll always try to get my mind off of whatever I’m writing and look around for some INSPIRATION.
This time of year, I figured, what better place than the Hallmark Channel!
If you enjoy terribly constructed, loosely and weakly plotted, poorly acted, and poorly written films with bad directing, cinematography, and a vat of Christmas sappiness to go along with it all, Hallmark Christmas movies are the perfect place to go.
I turned on my TV one of those reflective nights a couple evenings ago looking for inspiration and discovered one such film that shook me.
The premise was this: one beautiful brunette angel of the Lord whose name was “Gabby,” is sent to a small town by the angel, “Michael,” in order to bring some Christmas spirit back to the residents of the town that had for whatever reason lost their joy. She naturally agrees, because, well, she’s an angel, and immediately finds an apartment set up for her by . . . heaven? And a car, and begins to make her way through the town, meeting people, and spreading good ol’ Christmas cheer. Along the way, she naturally meets the resident nice guy fireman, “Jack.”
Long story short- she falls in love with him. ‘Cause you know, angels can do that with humans.
I remember watching with horror at one scene where she is about to make out with Jack and cringing. For whatever reason, angel Gabby stops herself, and Jack doesn’t know why, because he doesn’t know she’s an angel. So what does Gabby do? Naturally she goes to angel Michael and tells him she would rather be a human, to give up her angel wings, because for eons she has apparently lived miserably in heaven, and it was too HARD, watching humans fall in love with each other, and decidedly yearning for that instead of a perfect existence in Heaven.
Michael obviously agrees, saying for her, he’ll “bend the rules,” and Gabby becomes human. You know, mortal. I’m guessing, SINFUL, away from the presence of God, um . . . now apparently satisfied . . . Merry Christmas to all . . .
The music swells. The kissing happens. Her and Jack live happily forever. Movie over.
Yes I know it’s fiction. yes I know it’s a sappy Christmas movie. Yes, I know.
Still, I was horrified.
I sat for awhile and analyzed the theme of the movie: (the literature teacher in me): World is GREATER than heaven. Human needs are more precious than heavenly needs. Our will more pressing than God’s. Our wants trump God’s plan. Me. Me. Me. I want. I want. I want. I wish. I wish. I wish. More. More. More. Comfort over duty. Convenience over necessity.
We are never satisfied. What we have is never enough. So once again, there is a blaring choice before our eyes, and yes, it fits this time of year: What are we going to choose?
What are we making Christmas about? You hear the stories, you hear the songs, you see the movies, you experience shopping at the mall, you feel the stress. We think, “What am I getting for Christmas?” or we think, “What am I giving for Christmas?” when all we really should be thinking is, “THANK YOU, God.”
My heart swells when I think how grateful I am that our salvation story isn’t like that Hallmark movie. That when Jesus was on this earth, he didn’t look up into Heaven and think, “I miss the luxury. This is too hard. A stable? Yuck! No room in the inn, no thank you. A carpenter? NAZARETH? 12 stinky poor fishermen best friends? A crown of thorns? Crucifixion? No thank you!
Christ didn’t make it about Himself at all.
He made it all about us. Undeserving us.
Maybe this year, we don’t make Christmas about us at all: not about self, or family, or friends, or things on this earth at all . . .
What if this year, in those moments of reflection- we focus solely on Him?
What would Christmas look like then?
Just a thought.
Devin Anavitarte is one of the founders of Enspire Productions. He is currently a teacher at Burton Adventist Academy.