What can Catholics do to keep things Christmasy until mid-January? Among other things, I suggest keeping the tree and the lights lit until at least January 6, if not the following Sunday — and saving the Christmas movies till after Christmas day.
“What are your favorite Christmas movies?” As a Catholic film critic, I get this question several times every December, often on the air or via social media. The question, alas, touches on a sore subject for me.
Of the 2013 Christmas season’s trio of religiously inflected Christmas movies, this one just might be the most deserving of your time.
Perhaps the most beloved of Christmas movies, Frank Capra’s sleeper classic It’s a Wonderful Life has inevitably become a target of seasonal, iconoclastic culture-warmongering.
Spotlighted for your Lenten benefit: my 2011 blog post “Into the Desert: Lent and Film,” including some general thoughts on fasting and ascesis and some recommendations for appropriate Lenten viewing. Note that among the last year’s crop of films are a number that would make excellent Lenten viewing.
Following up on my “Still Christmas” post on Advent and Christmas family traditions, Christmas movies are an important tradition in many households. For me, Christmas movies are an especially important way of marking the continuing Christmas season. In general, I would rather watch Christmas movies with my kids after Christmas day, rather than before, as a way of celebrating the Christmas season.
All Advent long, observant Catholics and other Christians hold the line against premature Christmas, holding off on decking the halls and singing Christmas carols during what is meant to be a time of preparation. Now, as the world is busily dismantling what’s left of its Christmas trappings, it’s time for Christians to double down on the continued celebration of the Christmas season.
My Lenten viewing suggestions prompted a reader to ask: “Would you consider supplementing an English-only list? I love the idea of a Lenten movie night, but I have several children under reading age, and my husband just dislikes reading his movies. LOL. I will have to carve out time on my own during the week to watch the intriguing foreign films you have included.”
Many Catholics observe Lent with a discipline of withdrawal, in whole or in part, from mass communications media: movies, television, Internet, radio, music, newspapers. This is an admirable discipline … I find it helpful to make a practice of spiritual viewing during Lent, just as many make a practice of spiritual reading. For those inclined to consider this practice, here are six film suggestions for the six weeks of Lent.
“No one is born to be a failure. No one is poor who has friends.” These platitudes, plastered across the packaging of home-video editions of Frank Capra’s evergreen Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life, exemplify the film’s popular but misleading image as sentimental, schmaltzy “Capra-corn.” Yet the film itself is leavened by darker themes and more rigorous morals about self-sacrifice, disappointment, and the fragility of happiness and the American dream.
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.