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The Meaning of Christmas on Film - A Gift of The Magi Christmas

Updated on December 4, 2011

Miracles and Understanding

One of the themes of the Tim Allen Christmas comedy film, The Santa Clause 2 - The Missus Clause, is the magic of real love. This is the same theme offered by O'Henry's short story The Gift of the Magi.

In the Tim Allen film, Tim as Santa is able to give his love interest the Easy Bake Oven she longed for as a child but never received. The emotion of wonder playing in her eyes as she looks at him is not only believable, good acting, but a good result of love applied. Somewhere in her experience, the actor knew those emotions and brought them out to show us a miracle. We look at her and Santa and want to believe - if not in Santa or St. Nicholas, then in something bigger than ourselves. After viewing the film, some may go out and look for It.

Thoughtfulness, paying attention, and understanding a friend can work a miracle. The world lives in a state full of hate on a daily level, if we believe all that is broadcast on local and Cable TV and the Internet, but this need not be true on the ground.

A Nativity Scene in Germany
A Nativity Scene in Germany | Source

The Nature of Gifts

The O'Henry Magi theme is used repeatedly in various forms for films, stories, and holiday cartoons. In the 19th Century, a man sells his beloved watch chain to purchase a beautiful pair of hair combs for his wife's gorgeous long hair. Unbeknownst to him, she cuts and sells her hair to buy a watch for his chain. Each is astounded by the other's sacrifice. This is the love that thinks of someone else first. It is the love that God showed the world with his Gift of the Christmas Infant, born according to scripture to teach love and then die for humanity in the ultimate sacrifice.

On a mundane level - have you ever spent time choosing a thoughtful gift for a holiday gift exchange, but in return, you not only received something thoughtless or broken, but saw that most gifts in the exchange were pretty bad? Is this not something we can do without? These exchanges are not examples of the Christmas Spirit and could be eliminated in favor of a simple party without presents. Spending time together would be more valuable, I think, and more to the point of Christmas.

This story may be the best of all in presenting the meaning of the story of Christmas, Easter, and what happens for us next.
This story may be the best of all in presenting the meaning of the story of Christmas, Easter, and what happens for us next. | Source
The Fourth Wise Man
The Fourth Wise Man

n The Fourth Wise Man, another Magi named Artaban (Martin Sheen) and his servant (Alan Arkin) see the Christmas Star and set out with thre wonderful gifts for the Messiah. However, it takes them 33 years to find Him. Artaban uses his gifts to help those in need and has nothing left for the Savior. On Ressurection Day, the dying Artaban finds peace when he meets Jesus.



When considering love as thought and action in addition to emotion, the theme of love in the stories mentioned above makes sense. Moreover, the love highlighted the films and stories need not be romantic love.

In the over commercialized and over-scheduled world of Christian and secular Christmas holidays from mid-December to January 6, love is often trampled. When love is crushed under foot in parades of frenzied shopping and entertaining obligations, the holidays bring harm instead of love. This is the opposite of their purpose. Even secular Christmas is about gift giving to make others happy and celebrating with friends and family - hopefully not about one upmanship. However, some holiday celebrants do try to outdo one another with gifts and parties and some go into debt in order to do it.

Family members can feel ignored in the frenzy - even to the extent that the neighbors' kids receive presents and their own children do not (It's happened!). Then, what of children whose parents can afford nothing at the Holidays and miss out on limited helping services in the community? Which situation is sadder?

Home outdoor light shows can become quite frivolous and costly at Christmas, although some are better than the expensive drive through light shows and driving past the homes is free! One drawback is that many Christmas light strings are made by Chinese slaves, people enslaved for their Christianity. How ironic.

Some people withdraw from socializing during winter holidays - some take vacations and leave town for an exotic island to enjoy themselves and avoid what they feel is holiday mayhem. Still others have nowhere to go and no one to visit. I think that no matter what holiday we celebrate in December, we can find ways to apply love to it.

The Simplest Case

Forrest Gump: "I'm not a smart man, but I know what love is."

Another sentiment fits as well. It is the statement made on television's 20/20 in November 2011 by Representative Gabby Giffords' husband, Astronaut Mark Kelly. When considering their marriage and her remarkable recovery from a gunshot to the head ten months earlier he said:

"This 'for better or for worse' - That's real."

The media can cause holiday revelers to pause and consider what is real about Christmas.

Magi visit the Christ Child. Figures are part of the Oberammergau celebrations and thought to have been produced in 1840 - 1850.
Magi visit the Christ Child. Figures are part of the Oberammergau celebrations and thought to have been produced in 1840 - 1850. | Source


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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 5 years ago from North America

      Hello, hello - Yes, they're my favorites of the year.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

      You have chosen the best of Christmas film. They are great and I have seen them.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 5 years ago from North America

      Thanks, FloraBreenRobison, for the reference - I do like the original story better than subsequent films and cartoons, but I think I my first choice is The Fourth Wise Man, an entirely different though story, combining Christmas and Resurrection Day.

      jloeding - Thank you for reading!

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

      The Gift of the Magi was filmed as written as a shot segment in a film of short O Henry segments entitled O' Henry's Full House. Farley Granger and Jeanie Crain played the husband and wife. Alternately the overall film was just called Full House. John Steinbeck introduced all the segments. It is the only time I have seen the story as originally written.

    • jloeding profile image

      jloeding 5 years ago from Lafayette, LA