Posted by: jmdenham | December 24, 2011

Christmas Movies

I have always loved the Muppet Christmas Carol.  It is by far my favorite, though I am by no means well traveled in the field of Christmas Carol versions.  And really, I am not that well versed in Christmas movies.  But for many reasons (one being lots of time on my hands) this year I have watched a bunch of Christmas movies, including replaying my favorite a couple days ago and then watching among others, Elf and of course, A Christmas Story.

Now to be honest, I had only seen a grand total of 10 minutes of A Christmas Story.  I had thought it was a serious, depressing movie about shooting your eye out.  But by the time I finished the movie I had laughed so hard and become so fond of loquacious and enraptured narrators- to say the least of the bumbling father, the snorting brother, the friends like Flick.  It was great!  I was so thrilled to watch something so light but that captured the chaos and ups and downs of Christmas.  It actually felt real.  But I digress.

I meant to write about the Muppet Christmas Carol.  I surely believe that every version reaches us because of our character.  Something about that movie attracts itself to me other than being the one I watch as a kid.  And still to this day, there is something poignant about watching that movie, even as an adult.  First of all the humor in it is fantastic.  Nearing the end Rizzo asks about Tiny Tim, and Gonzo replies, “And Tiny Tim- who DIDN’T die…” and that always get a laugh out of me.  But the Muppet version also has a simplicity that I really value.  Scrooge’s character is quite simple.  The characters are more or less straight forward.  And actually, I quite like the simple theme of joy that pervades it- I am not sure there is a better Ghost of Christmas present, and I really love the joy of all the characters.  It is an enduring simple theme that Christmas spirit may be truly that of joy.   When I watch that movie, I find my personality being more complete with joy not just moments after, but days after.

The joy thing is important to me these days.  I have realized that I am more pessimistic than I always assume I have been over the last four months or so.  I feel less joyful and upbeat, and even though I work in a field that can be a depressing place (the hospital), I have found chaplains who reflect that simple joy of the Muppet Christmas Carol and that second ghost, people whose contentment and joy make being around them satisfying and a semblance of the presence of God.  Part of the lack of joy is the job search, but I think that I have allowed the job search to drain me of some of my motivation, some of the excitement, some of the joy and positivity that I usually have.  The Christmas season, as I see and so much enjoy in the Muppet Christmas Carol and A Christmas Story is that joy and hopefulness are endearing marks of this season and the Christian’s life anyway.  It does not mean that I must always believe things will turn out even better or perfect or that bad things won’t happen to me.  Rather, I think it means that in all circumstances I maintain my presence with a joyful spirit that is positive and persevering, and that in that soul-ful joy my path and journey find more light and life.  I think it means that I smile more often and love being active all the time, that I enjoy life as the gift it is (ala Christmas!), especially since the job is not even close to the full measure of life.

I share this because I was so struck the other day watching these Christmas movies and being so taken by the ever present joy in them all.  I share this because I am going to try to make a greater commitment to being more joyful not as a “New Year’s Resolution” but as the presence of God is calling me more into discipleship.  And because I could use your methods of being joyful, and I know some of you are really good at it.  Any suggestions to reframe my days or change the thought process?  Thanks!

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