It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, especially on TV. All our favorite holiday movies are being broadcast….again and again and again and again… Sunday afternoon for a few moments I visited again with the Griswald family as Chevy Chase hung precariously from the second story of his home stapling Christmas lights…and his shirt sleeve…to the siding. I flipped past the black and white “It’s a Wonderful Life” as the bells chimed and “another angel gets his wings.” I watched Jim Carey as “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” and eveyone’s favorite overgrown “Elf.” I haven’t yet seen the rerun of “A Christmas Story” but I’m sure I’ll watch Ralphie again as he’s ominously warned “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid” by overly responsible adults who don’t want him to have his “Red Ryder” bb gun.
Ironically, among our younger generation, there is a revival of interest in these old reruns of Christmas movies. “Miracle on 34th Street” show the reconciliation of two competing materialistic giants at Christmas time, “White Christmas” showcases the crooning of Bing Crosby, while Clarence the angel earns his wings in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” But of all the movies the one that ranks as their favorite (according to a Harris Poll), is “A Christmas Story.” This hilarious retelling of young Ralphie’s efforts to gain possession of the “holy grail,” an all-important BB gun, in spite of curmudgeonly teachers, mean-spirited Santas, and all the mishaps that can befall a nine year old at Christmas time has, somehow, captured the hearts of another generation.
It’s interesting because (1) There is no mention ANYWHERE of Jesus in this movie. (2) The focus of the movie is on the acquisition of a possession which is GUARANTEED to bring happiness and fulfillment. (3) There is no motive for Christmas being about selfless giving, reconciling enemies, or seeing something come about for the common good. It’s all about Christmas as a means to gratify the needs of one person: Ralphie.
Does this mean I won’t watch it….again? Probably will, but I don’t watch it anymore uncritically or just for the sake of nostalgia. I watch it aware of the successful efforts of the filmmaker to create a new meaning for Christmas that has drawn away the hearts of our culture.
And again we ask, “is there room for Christ in Christmas?”