Happily ever after? Really? Sorry, I don’t see it in the lives of the people I know – or my own life for that matter. Therefore, I went on a journey to study the validity of this sought after phenomenom and discovered my own surprise ending!
HAPPILY EVER AFTER AND THE HALLMARK CHANNEL
So I turned on the Hallmark Channel. After all, where better to do my “Happily Ever After” research than to study these movies that always end on a happy note, particularly during the Christmas season.
The movies are similar with some small variations; woman makes misguided decisions, a wizard, time machine or some other magic shows her the right choices, she sees the error of her ways, and gets the guy meant for her.
However one theme never varies:
Of course, the “happily ever after” ending isn’t reality, but it’s Hallmark’s story and they’re sticking to it.
HALLMARK’S CHRISTMAS HAPPILY EVER AFTER
While the themes of the Christmas movies are similar to the rest of the year there is one difference. Usually a Christmas hating person is at the center of the plot due to a love loss at the holiday. Often the person was dumped on Christmas. Who does that?
Thus a rehab program begins; often initiated by a magical Santa! Of course, it always works and the Christmas hater learns to celebrate again.
BUT I LIKE THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER
Okay, you say, the movies aren’t realistic. The plots and endings are predictable at best. But we watch these shows for light-hearted entertainment and a brief escape from the problems of life and stresses of the holiday season.
and that is why I watch these shows too.
However, a disturbing theme is developing in recent years. Every year the Christmas movies are becoming more secular.
To see what I mean let’s take a look at some of the Hallmark movies shown during the last few years.
A workaholic woman loses her job and returns to the family business of growing and selling Christmas trees. Her memories of childhood Christmases are depressing, but a man she meets helps her reflect on the good memories and fun she had as a child. Not only is her relationship with her parents healed, but her love life is a picture of health too.
A worried Santa is depressed because the Christmas spirit is dying and he will no longer be able to bring Christmas unless his helper revitalizes the spirit of Christmas through one child. Yes, Christmas is saved.
A Christmas Detour
Due to a snow storm, a woman with a positive attitude towards Christmas is stranded with a Christmas hater. The woman’s rehabilitation efforts focus on helping the man to forgive those who hurt him and enjoy family time. Of course, she is successful and love blooms at the holiday once again.
I’m Not Ready for Christmas
An elf wants to know if there is more to life than what the North Pole offers.
Thus Santa sends her to be a nanny for parents who are too focused on their business to create traditions for their children.
Of course, the elf solves the family problems and falls in love with an earthling. Santa makes her human and they marry. Of course, they live happily ever after!
The Christmas Ornament
A young widow can’t decorate for Christmas because tree ornaments represent a special meaning to her and her deceased husband. A new man in her life brings back her decorating spirit, and all is well.
So, according to these movies, here’s what needs to be restored in the life of the Christmas hater: childhood memories, Santa, family hurts, traditions, and decorations. These themes are played repeatedly with different characters and settings.
WHAT’S MISSING IN THESE HAPPILY EVER AFTER CHRISTMAS MOVIES?
The real reason we celebrate Christmas! Futhermore Jesus is rarely mentioned, let alone the focal point of the Christmas hater’s rehab. Occasionally, the characters attend a Christmas Eve service, but in the more recent movies, they don’t even give this nod to Jesus.
WHAT ABOUT YOU AND ME?
With all the busyness of the season, I sometimes feel like I’m not much better than the movies. Sure, I go to Christmas Eve service,
but is that my nod to Jesus?
How much time do I give to the Lord during the holiday, or even during the year? Where’s my focus? Perhaps I need a Christmas rehab, one that focuses on the reason for the season.
THE ROMANTICIZATION OF CHRISTMAS
Unfortunately, like the movies, we romanticize Christmas too. Think how we complain at the end of a pregnancy. We usually stay close to home for a quick trip to a sterile environment with professionals to help us bring new life into this world.
However, Mary couldn’t stay home. She made an uncomfortable trip of about 100 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. It probably took eight to ten days by foot, and if they chose the shorter route, it was very rough terrain. It must have been extremely difficult.
The young couple arrived and was anticipating a much-needed rest, only to find there was no room in the inn. We know Jesus was laid in a manger, which is a feeding trough for horses or cattle.
We assume they were in a stable, but we don’t know for sure. However, we can assume there were animals around and it probably was dark, dank and unpleasant. Our nativity displays don’t do the circumstances justice.
No doubt God, the Father, was present, providing comfort. However, it must have been a grueling experience for this young couple. At this point in time, do you think Mary and Joseph felt the Hallmark “happily ever after?”
OR DID THEY?
After reading the Christmas story again, I have changed my perspective on the happily ever after. No, I haven’t lost my mind, I know that our lives aren’t perfect and our relationships will have rocky times. There will be financial stress, work problems, disappointments, health issues, loss, and prodigal children.
Nevertheless, Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection do provide the perfect life. No, we won’t experience it now, but what could be more “happily ever after” than eternity with Jesus?
So this year, take time to be awe-inspired and focused on the heart of Christmas. We should be amazed and overcome with gratitude when recognizing the gift of Jesus Christ.
Of course, I will still watch the schmaltzy movies with my husband. Yes, he watches chick flicks. I know I’m blessed. These shows provide relaxing entertainment during a busy and stressful time of year.
But when we get to the “happily ever after” ending, I will see it a little differently. Thank you, Jesus, for sacrificing so we can have a “happily ever after” with You.
Okay, it’s your turn. Under comments, please name your favorite Christmas movie or chick flick. More importantly, share some of the ways you and your family keep Jesus in Christmas.
Blessings until next time. And, of course, Merry Christmas to all!