Sunday, December 13, 2015

Wanted: Writers to Save Christmas!

Why are Christmas movies so jingle-jangle, holly-jolly gosh-awful anymore?

Photo by Kris de Curtis
Seems they're all about "Christmas magic," which leads to
  • the Christmas pageant is saved, OR
  • two or more bickering family members declare a cease fire for the holidays, OR 
  • a string of improbable events brings Daddy home from the war, the far country, or former planet Pluto just in time to hang the star on the tree, OR
  • young Jimmy-Bob learns to "believe" in Santa or magic marshmallows or the Puritan work ethic, OR
  • the greatest "Christmas miracle" of all, a young couple finds "true love," kissing under the mistletoe.
And then it snows.

I mean, all that is okay, but other than some twinkle lights and elevator-music carols, how does any of this sappy stuff relate in any way to Christmas?

I realize that not every Christmas movie can tell the story of a baby born in Bethlehem, but shouldn't they at least be about real love (as opposed to "true love" or warm fuzzies)--with themes like giving and self-sacrifice and a deeper reflection about the meaning of life? 

Charles Dickens hit the bullseye with his story A Christmas Carol. This is a tale that makes people ponder how transitory this life is and about how we can live so as to make a difference in this world. 
by Robert Doucette

There have been a few good movie versions of A Christmas Carol--and several awful ones. I'll go out on a limb and say that my favorite is the one starring George C. Scott as Scrooge. You probably have a different favorite, but I'll forgive you 'cause it's Christmas!

There are good reasons why this story has achieved classic status:

  • Charles Dickens was a good writer.
  • And he was obviously inspired to write this story.
  • This story shows the supernatural side of life.
  • The main character undergoes a big change--for the better.
  • It makes readers/viewers stop and think about their own lives
  • It brings hope to everyone who is willing to turn away from their selfishness and to think about other people.
And most of the above would also apply to It's a Wonderful Life. (Just substitute Philip Van Doren Stern, who wrote the original story, for Charles Dickens.) There's a reason that movie is played around the world every Christmas.

White Christmas is about a couple of ex-soldiers who sacrifice their own plans to help their former commanding officer --  Major General Thomas F. Waverly -- make a success of his business -- not to mention all that great singing and dancing!

In How the Grinch Stole Christmas (I like the 1966 cartoon version), the Grinch steals all the presents and decorations from Whoville and thinks that's the end of Christmas. But when the Whos down in Whoville break into a Christmas song, he has an epiphany: "What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas ... perhaps ... means a little bit more!"

And I don't think that all Christmas movies have to be serious and philosophical. Fun and entertaining is okay if it's done well, like Home Alone or The Santa Claus. (Feel free to substitute names of other Christmas movies that you like better.)

But in general, we need less sugarplum fluff and more Christmas substance. Less cheesy, more quality. Less cookie cutter, more artistry. I wish Hallmark would quit cranking out Christmas movies on  an assembly line and concentrate on a few good ones.

By Matanya

But let's face it. Hallmark doesn't give a ho-ho-ho. It's up to us. To me and all my wonderful writer friends -- and you are all so talented! Isn't it about time for us to save Christmas from the Grinches, hacks, and money-grubbers? Let's put truth and beauty and meaning back in Christmas stories!

Dr. Seuss, making sketches
 of the Grinch--by Al Ravenna
The Stark Raving Mythopath is curious. What is YOUR favorite Christmas movie? Please let me know in the comments. . . .


  1. My favorite version of Dickens is Scrooge with Albert Finney. I love the music. I also like Mickey's Christmas Carol which as the wonderful song, "O What a Merry Christmas Day." In the non Dickens category, I confess to A Christmas Story and my whole family is happy it plays nonstop on Christmas day. We have even taken to eating Chinese food for our Christmas meal.
    I agree about the Hallmark movies. They have successfully removed almost every trace of the Nativity from their movies. We're only asked to believe in Santa.
    I realize A Christmas Story has no Nativity references, but for quirky characters, it can't be beat.

  2. Oops! No movies for me. We kinda prefer the real stage versions and we try to be in the audience of A Christmas Carol every so often and to include a "grand" or two ("grand" being grandchild)... And now some true confessions...well, two of my friends and I have our own copies of Murder for Christmas which has twenty five short stories by the really famous mystery authors such as O. Henry, Agatha, etc...and we try to read one each day of December...("try" being the operative word...) and for a Christian, well, the work of the Spirit is visible, if not specifically stated... So...loved your perspective on these movies if my own experience is sorely lacking and will continue to lack... The Lord of Life is so much bigger than any media but may He use media to help those He loves to connect more and more with His Goodness and Grace. Amen.