I’d planned to write about books this week, how we choose them, the importance of covers and titles and so on but as I’m getting ready to post all I can think of is Christmas. Here I am, in the over-50 crowd and the season has me excited as a child.
Perhaps that’s because yesterday I hosted my local writer’s group for a little Christmas gathering. It’s one of my holiday traditions, and we always have such a nice time it’s one I look forward to year after year.
As part of the pot-luck meal, I make two kinds of soup. While I was preparing the chicken and vegetables (read: lots of time at the countertop) Heidi came on my little kitchen television—my favorite version with Shirley Temple. It may not be a classic Christmas story, but for some reason that’s one of my favorites to watch during the holiday season. I don’t care how many times I’ve seen it, that movie always makes me smile.
I do love all the typical favorites, too. It’s A Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Carol, White Christmas to name a few. I’ve only seen A Christmas Story a couple of times but have laughed my way through it during both viewings. It’s not for kids, really, but the narrator in that movie makes the experience absolutely priceless. At one point in a kitchen scene the mother is busy getting dinner on the table, then coaxing the youngest child to eat (who evidently hasn’t willingly eaten in something like three years), then just as she’s about to take her first bite from her own plate the father character asks for something off of the stovetop. Then Ralphie needs something and then the narrator chimes in that his mother hasn’t sat down to a hot meal in fifteen years. Priceless—mainly because I can so relate!
That’s what makes these movies classics, I think. There is some quality in each one of them that keep us coming back, something more than tradition. Well, even as I write this I think I watch White Christmas only because of tradition—and perhaps the music, and because I like Danny Kaye. But the other movies? What is it that touches me deeply enough to want to repeat the experience year after year?
In Heidi, I absolutely love watching her break through the rough exterior of the grandfather—eventually helping to bring him back to God. It’s a story that warms my heart even as it reminds me what good storytelling is all about: transformation. And what about watching the change in the independent, no-nonsense mother character in Miracle on 34th Street who softens by the end so that she almost certainly believes in Santa? What about the lesson in It’s A Wonderful Life—that we may not see our dreams come true, but the Lord puts us right where He wants us and where we can make the most difference? And everyone knows how Scrooge is forever changed in A Christmas Carol. In each one of these treasures, the characters grow in ways that make us glad we went along to witness each transformation.
Each of my favorite Christmas movies helps to make my season complete. I don’t think I’d have it any other way—because at the heart of every one is a story. I may be a writer, but that’s only because I loved a good story first and figured out a way to tell one, too.
So here’s to the stories and storytellers in our lives! I hope you have the blessing of a good story this season—not the least of which is the one that’s more than that: how God became a man so He could not only live in relationship with us, but spend eternity together.
Merry Christmas to all!