Christmas is fast approaching, and you probably don’t have time right now to read another blog. You also might be spending more time with your families at home than you normally do during an ordinary Christmas holiday season. But these are no ordinary times. So here are five suggestions for spending family time together watching Christmas movies. 

These are my favorites—but I’m not ranking them except to say they are all family friendly, have some solid biblical principles on which to build, and they will satisfy all age groups. I put them in alphabetical order and I’m just going to briefly review each and tell you where you can find them. You and your family can decide which ones you like best.

So pop some popcorn and stir up some hot chocolate. Light up the fireplace, turn on the Christmas lights, turn off all other lights, and cozy up together. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

It’s a Wonderful Life, released on January 7, 1947 in black-and-white; it has since been colorized and both versions are available. Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed star as George Bailey and his wife, Mary. George is in the money lending business, specializing in helping poorer, but hard-working families to be able to build their own homes. He has never made much money from his kind-hearted business but he is able to support his own family and life is basically good. George and Mary enjoy a highly favored reputation with town folk—until his absent-minded uncle loses track of $8,000 he is supposed to deposit into the company’s bank account. The discrepancy is discovered by the bank’s bookkeeper, and the bank’s powerful owner decides to press charges. George becomes frustrated and angry and takes it out on those he loves best, goes off to drown his problems at a local bar, and then finds himself ready to jump off a bridge into an icy cold river. The movie warmly demonstrates that every life is a purposeful, God-given gift, that all lives are linked together and are needed by one another. With an old-time Hollywood, feel-good kind of story-telling, it concludes that God is behind it all and that the celebration of Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. NBC will air the movie on December 24th. Check local listings for the time. You can also find the movie on Amazon Prime.

Angela’s Christmas, released on December 8, 2017, is an Irish/Canadian animated film about an Irish family at Christmas and based on a story written by Frank McCourt. McCourt is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Angela’s Ashes. McCourt says “Angela’s Christmas” was told to him as a child by his mother and reflects her own childhood memories. Attending church on Christmas Eve with her family in Ireland, Angela becomes concerned that the Baby Jesus in the church’s crèche—which is not wrapped in warm swaddling clothes—will be too cold to enjoy Christmas. After mass, she sneaks up to the manger and takes Baby Jesus home with her, keeping him warm inside her coat and under her bedcovers and speaking sweetly to him. The tale involves a rascally brother who still staunchly defends his sister when she is found out by the church’s priest and is interwoven with a child’s insights and a loving family. The movie can be found on Netflix. 

A Charlie Brown Christmas, released on December 9, 1965, was the first “Peanuts” TV special and was written by well-known Christian cartoonist, Charles M. Schulz. Featuring all the “Peanuts” characters and their typical childhood interactions, Charlie Brown is experiencing “holiday” depression. In an attempt for a cure, he visits Lucy’s psychiatric booth, where she prescribes that he direct the neighborhood Christmas play. All the plans and rehearsals go as one would expect them to go for this group, until an exasperated Charlie Brown finally voices his unanswered question regarding the true meaning of Christmas and what that meaning might be. This is when Linus volunteers that he knows the answer and takes center stage to recite the passage from Luke 2 that describes the birth of Jesus. This movie which has appeared on network television for the past 50 years is now available only on Apple TV Plus. 

The Muppet Christmas Carol was first released in theaters on December 11, 1992 and was directed by Brian Henson. Although it is presented as a musical fantasy comedy, it still does a great job of depicting the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, written by Charles Dickens. In fact, this format makes it easier for a child to understand. Fozzie Bear narrates with his sidekick, Sam the Eagle. While the Muppet portraying Scrooge was designed particularly for this movie, familiar beloved Muppets float in and out of scenes, the most memorable being Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit and Miss Piggy as his wife. Non-Christmas practicing, stingy, and disagreeable Scrooge is taken by spirits to visit past, present, and yet-to-come Christmases, after which he forsakes his old lifestyle and becomes a changed man. This movie can be found on Disney Plus.

The Star, released on November 17, 2017, is an animated story about a donkey named Bo and a few other barnyard animals. They unwittingly become involved with Mary and Joseph, and then follow a star as they travel to Bethlehem and become witnesses to the birth of Jesus. While the story is very loosely based on the biblical account of the birth of Jesus, the animals’ adventures are quite entertaining and they all do come to recognize Jesus as a King and Savior. This movie is available on Amazon Prime and Hulu.

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