The Christmas Effect

December 28, 2015

The Christmas season is, without a doubt, my favorite time of the year. Despite the standard wars and violence always to be found somewhere on the planet, love, joy, and peace flourish during Yuletide as in no other season.

Most everyone gets excited. Especially kids, merchants, and no one more so than Christians. No surprise since the birth of Christ is what started it all. Christmas lovers like me flash the Christmas message from our dwellings and anything else we can hang lights on. We go out of our way to spread goodwill to others. We fill grocery bags to feed the needy. We pull paper angels off mall trees so we can shop for people we don’t even know.

We can even be a little pesky at times. We protest stores that treat Christmas like any other business day. We carol in front of unlit homes hoping to make the inhabitants more excited about the season. We go out of our way to wish a Merry Christmas to cashiers who we are sure have been told to keep tight-lipped about it.

But fortunately something else goes on inside the homes of believers in Christmas, including ours. Christmas movies beam from the screen, blanketing viewers with gooey goodness. But it’s OK, really. For me, they bring balance to my soul and, frankly, make me a lot more fun to be around. I consider it therapy. I call it CMT—Christmas Movie Therapy.

This year we watched four movies before the Big Day. The first featured a teen who used his Salvation Army paper angel to request gifts for others: his mom, sister, abusive father—even a bully at school! Lives were changed, including the man who shopped for his gifts. This would have been a big enough dose for one day, but Bonnie popped another disk into the player.

That movie followed a little boy with leukemia. His journey took him to St. Jude Hospital. After every available standard treatment failed, the doctors desperately attempted an experimental Hail Mary. After it too failed to stop the disease, the parents were told their son had only four to six weeks to live. Not even till Christmas! That’s when they and the neighbors decided not to wait, but move the celebration up to Halloween. Yeah, lives were drastically changed, even that of a lady who didn’t know the family but read their story on Facebook.

It took 24 hours for my throat to unlock and my eyes to stop burning. Then Bonnie was ready with another. This one was about a homeless men’s Christmas choir and, like the other two, based on a true story. Everyone’s (and their grandmas’) lives were changed.

The last one highlighted a boys home that was about to get shut down at Christmastime—sorry, I’m losing it here—but was saved by a change of heart by a well-to-do business lady. There was a lot of kissing at the end, but by then my eyes were so watery I couldn’t have watched it even if I wanted.

If you already use CMT, you understand my warning that it can be potent. It is emotional and will wear you down. Your nose gets really messy and you may even have difficulty catching your breath. But some of the other side effects make these physical discomforts more than worth it.

I find myself, especially this year, with a whole new outlook. I am more generous with gifts for others, and I don’t feel as greedy as usual. My heart is more empathetic to the homeless. While hiking last week, my friend George and I passed a young man who was cold and hungry. We both gave him money. I gave him my gloves and my coat. Even my backpack. (Maybe I watched one movie too many.) Oh well, I have other backpacks in the basement.

Another side effect has been a more forgiving attitude. People forgive people in droves in these movies. You might want to have words with someone before Christmas so you will have someone to forgive (kidding). I find myself even forgiving people who don’t decorate. I forgive store owners who won’t display a shred of tinsel. I even forgive people who give me the bad eye when I say Merry Christmas.

Christmas Day is only a few days past, but the therapy is already beginning to wear off. I think I need Christmas at least quarterly. Along with the movies, of course.

Maybe Christmas in April. That’s when many say Jesus was born anyway. I could just leave the decorations up.

A local campground celebrates “Christmas in July.” That works for me. I could pitch my tent and decorate it and every square inch of the lot. But then I would have to go home to watch the movies with Bonnie because she doesn’t camp.

I need another dose in, say, September. I could put the lights up early—if I even took them down. I could temporarily screw in a few orange lights when Halloween came, even gift-wrap the candy bars for the trick-or-treaters and dress as Santa Claus.

Christmas and CMT all year long would make me more fun to be around, and more tolerant of Scrooges. You may want to try it too. Maybe we’d end up higher on the nice list when the real Christmas rolls around again.






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