We may not be aware of it but we're all trying to find the spirit of Christmas, even the Grinches and the Scrooges, politicians, pundits and tycoons. Some spirit of goodness comes knocking at the soul. Hence the popularity of Christmas movies. We sense that this is the season that joy can break through the ice shield encircling the our hearts. (Check out also on this website)
In the Grinch who stole Christmas, the Grinch who has declareddwar on Christmas joy. It is for him, public enemy number one. It does sort of remind one of the Nazis of wokeness and present day politicians who try to cancel the phrase "merry Christmas". However, by the end of the 33 line illustrated poem, the Grinch does find that Christmas joy doesn't come in a box, it's something other worldly, that is felt with the heart, not experienced with the senses. It makes him happy and his frozen heart melts and becomes alive again. It's the same plot line as the Christmas Carrol where Ebenezer Scrooge goes from " Bah, Humbug!... Are there no prisons, are there no workhouses", to "I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year." Somehow, our experience of Christmas makes both these stories believable,
There is something about Christmas that seems to prompt us to take a personal happiness inventory. But when there is too much investment in possessions, or financial portfolios, too little in the things of God, we come up short in our inventory. We can realize how close we are ton the verge of a happiness bankruptcy. We remember Christmases as a child and compare them to now, with our adult sins and adult problems. The present seldom to can measure up to the past. Perhaps if we have repented of our adult sins and embraced a childlike attitude the Christmas spirit will return, but that often isn't the case. (Note to self, I should go to confession again before Christmas).
There is a spike in depression and suicides during the Christmas season also. In It's a Wonderful Life, George Bailey is contemplating a Christmas-time suicide but is saved by his guardian angel and the support of family and friends. But for many, that support system has fallen away through time or circumstance. Many are staring into the void, as George Bailey was, when he was alone on the bridge, looking down in the dark waters. In the plot, George's family had being praying for him when he had left in a drunken, despairing rage.
I think in some ways, George Bailey is us. Increasingly our retirement saving portfolios seem more and more like a leaning tower of casino chips. We seem to have income but then food, shelter, taxes, transportation and fees take their share. It's as if a flock of locusts flew in and we as stripped bare with nothing more than and empty stalk remaining. Our governments continue to kick the can up the road, hoping the day of reckoning will hold off until they leave office. We have a system where we rob Peter to pay Paul, Paul being us and Peter the next generation.
But in the movie, George Bailey is saved by a God's action, albeit through a bubbling angel who struggles to accomplish heaven's purpose. God always provides but too often we don't recognize it. He provided for the Holy Family on the first Christmas. True, God does think outside our boxes. Joseph and Mary were denied a five star hotel but their abode that night was heralded by angels and the appearance of a new star in the heavens. We struggle to believe in God's providence, in spite of Jesus's assurance in Matthew 6:30, "Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?"
In the above mentioned Christmas movies, joy comes when the the characters release their death grip on money and possessions and start providing for others, just like God provides for us. When we provide for others we start to share in God's joy, His joy at the birth of His Son. The Grinch returns all the Christmas presents he stole, Scrooge starts to provide for the deep needs of the poor and the townsfolk provide for the stolen bank deposit to keep George Bailey's business afloat. At Tobit 12: 9 states, "For almsgiving save from death and purges away every sin. Those who give alms will enjoy a full life"
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