I have to tell you that when I saw the first Advent Candle being lit at church this Sunday morning, I nearly put my hand up and pointed out the mistake. Surely not already? It seems like we have talked about Christmas since the end of August, and I have strenuously resisted it but suddenly it really is on the way.
I am, as usual, totally unprepared but I have never let that stop me before and I expect we shall get there without too much trauma. At least, that’s the plan. To get me in the mood, I am picking out Christmas movies for each Advent pause and telling you why I love them and why they make my bottom lip a bit trembly.
First up is Nativity! This is a late entry to my Christmas favourites. A primary school teacher, organising his school’s nativity, accidentally promises his pupils Hollywood interest in their play. As disaster upon disaster unfolds, the teacher spirals out of control in his efforts to dig himself out of this hole. It’s all very implausible (The teacher actually has an ex-girlfriend working in Hollywood. Who would have thought it?)
However, I do love this. Firstly, it is full of excited children doing a bit of acting. Secondly, how lovely to see a Nativity with Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus, as well as really sweet songs. It seems that now, in some schools, you can’t call it a Nativity unless you have a life size squirrel, a solar-powered set of wind chimes and a spaceman. We have to cover all bases and make sure all the costumes in the dressing up box are used I think.
I don’t think that all Christian traditions need to be adhered to as if they are Gospel, but there is something wonderful about the combination of the Nativity story and children. Children, maybe, catch on to the joy of the whole thing. They sniff the air like tiny puppies as Christmas approaches. A lot of it is to do with the gifts – that is certain – but they also, without any cynicism enter wholeheartedly into the spirit of the time. I could probably learn a lot from them.