I have a confession to make. Over the years, I’ve watched more of those Hallmark Christmas movies than I care to admit. Just saying that feels like a threat to my masculinity and possibly my intelligence. Fortunately (unfortunately?), I’m not alone. One article I read said that Hallmark released 37 original Christmas movies this year and Netflix and others are starting to get in on the action. Even though the movies are cheaply made and incredibly unoriginal, people can’t stop watching them. I think it’s important that we stop to ask why. The movies tap into ideas that people resonate with. Understanding what those ideas are tells us something about ourselves.
In case there’s someone who is completely unfamiliar with the genre, let me give the basic outline. The lead is usually a single woman who has been too preoccupied with her work to find love. Some crisis necessitates her returning to her hometown at Christmas time. Once there, the Christmas spirit and hometown nostalgia combine with a chance meeting with an old flame or love interest and after some early tension, romance blossoms. Wrapping presents, getting a Christmas tree, drinking hot chocolate, and baking cookies are all essential ingredients in the perfect Christmas movie. So, what do these movies tell us about ourselves?
1. We want to go back.
I think there’s a reason that the movies always involve a return to the hometown. As we become adults, somewhere along the line our innocence fades and circumstances leave us feeling jaded. We see things we wish we could un-see and we experience things we wish we could have avoided. I think we resonate with the return to the hometown because we want to go back to the way things were – before life became so complicated. The problem is that if you stay long enough in your hometown, life gets complicated there, too. The answers aren’t in the past. The Bible instead points us forward. All that we’ve lost gets renewed in the new creation. 1 Corinthians 2:9 says, “no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” Next time you’re watching one of those Christmas movies, remind yourself, “What I’m looking for isn’t in the past. It’s in the future!”
2. We think romance will solve all our problems.
Despite whatever plot variations there might be (and there usually aren’t many of them!), the movie’s resolution always hinges on making a perfect romantic connection just in time for Christmas. With a kiss or a proposal or a wedding, the movie can end because we assume that will solve all of life’s problems. The Bible gives a far more realistic assessment of romantic love. The Bible is honest about realities like conflict and selfishness ruining what God designed marriage to be. God created us for relationship, but romance doesn’t solve all of our problems. Our human relationships are a good gift from God, but they’re intended to point us to the relationship God wants with each of us. Next time you’re watching one of those Christmas movies, remind yourself, “Romance won’t solve all of my problems. I was created for a relationship with God.”
3. We don’t think God matters.
Did you ever notice how consistent Christmas movies are in avoiding Jesus? That should strike us as weird given the fact that they’re called Christmas movies. One article I read describes the pattern, “Despite using the peg of the Christian holiday, these films generally avoid any whiff of actual religion.” The message they silently communicate is that Christmas is mostly about the trees and the snow and the decorations – Jesus is completely optional. We keep the form and lose sight of the substance. I wonder how much your vision of Christmas has been clouded by gingerbread, turkey and gifts. Has Jesus gotten sidelined? Next time you’re watching one of those Christmas movies, remind yourself, “Jesus is what makes Christmas Christmas,” and look for ways to centre your celebrations around Him.
We need to start taking those cheesy Christmas rom-coms more seriously because the Bible tells us to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5) and if we don’t examine the messages we hear, they change us. The Hallmark ending doesn’t solve our real problems and few people ever experience it. But the hope held out in the true Christmas message is available for everyone. Join us for our Christmas services this Sunday and our Candlelight Service on Christmas Eve as we celebrate Christmas Hope.
In awe of Him,
Interested in learning more? You might also like to check out:
Where’s God in Your Singleness?
How to Stay Pure in a World of ‘50 Shades of Grey’
Five Things I Learned About the Bible From Yoda