- First, there is A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, whether it be by reading and unabridged or abridged version, or by seeing one of the screen renditions. Whatever Dicken's religious convictions, there is something very powerful and true to the meaning of the Incarnation about the underlying message. There are two screen renditions I definitely don't like. The first is the Mr. Magoo one, that I loved as a child, but now see as woefully materialistic in its distortion. Second is the one with Patrick Stewart as Scrooge. Make it not so!
- Second, is Its A Wonderful Life. I never watched it until I had a family of my own, but we now try to watch it together every year. Once again, shaky theology at points, but a great message about the value of life and the providence of God.
- Although many people dislike Suess for one reason or another, I'm not one of them. I think he really hit pay dirt with How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The 1966 TV musical special is an astounding gem. You can't beat the narrative and voice by Boris Karloff, or the little voice of Cindy Lou Who. I have nothing to say about the Jim Carrie version, having not seen it.
- Then there is the O. Henry story, "The Gift of the Magi." I heard it read aloud on CBC's "As it Happens" a couple of weeks ago. Henry's style is sometimes a little jarring for twenty-first century ears, but the pathos--and joy--is quite effective. Jim and Della's expression of love is quite moving and there is something to the association of the sacrificial generosity of a married couple and the love of Christ for his Bride, the Church, which begins with the marriage of heaven and earth at the Incarnation.
- Finally, there is A Charlie Brown Christmas. I am always brought to tears when Linus stands on the stage and says, "Lights, please," and begins the reading from the Gospel of Luke. Can you imagine anyone doing anything like that on network television now?
I also like The Homecoming, the pilot for The Waltons, although it gets a little rough around the edges at some points for the youngest. Hamner does not himself come across as a religious man to me, although I don't know anything about it.