–By Sam Hendrian–
As wonderful as they are supposed to be, the days leading up to Christmas can often feel rather hollow. Beyond the obvious superficiality of commercialized cheer, even religious rituals and the true meaning of the season may become darkened by rote routine and existential doubts. When illusions of meaninglessness creep into our souls, it is important to remember the inherent preciousness of every human life that Jesus’s birth so boldly proclaimed. Here are ten inspiring quotes from Christmas movies that can help us frame Advent in the hopeful, uplifting context it is meant to be seen in.
1. “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”
–It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
These thought-provoking words spoken by the angel Clarence (Henry Travers) to the good-hearted everyman George Bailey (James Stewart) beautifully convey the indispensability we each possess as children of God. While it may sometimes seem like we are just specks of dust pointlessly floating around a hostile planet, God sent his only Son into the world to remind us that we are each here for a reason and destined for eternal happiness. Few movies portray this Advent truth better than It’s a Wonderful Life.
2. “I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It’s not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love.”
–A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
Spoken by Linus to express appreciation for a tiny Christmas tree, these words could quite well have also been spoken metaphorically by God to describe the human race. While our littleness and sinfulness is vast, we can be infinitely transformed by a little (or a lot of) love, which is exactly what Christmas celebrates.
3. “Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to.”
–Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Stated in one of the first and most famous Santa Claus movies ever made, this quote succinctly captures the paradoxical power of trusting in the unseen, which is one of the Nativity’s major themes. It could not have been obvious to the shepherds and wisemen who flocked to Bethlehem that the baby lying in a manger was the king of the universe, but they chose to listen to their heart-of-hearts and believe it anyway. This is what we are all called to do as we search for the deeper meaning of our lives.
4. “Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, he thought, means a little bit more.”
–How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966)
This timeless message seems so obvious, and yet we continue to ignore it every year as we make Advent a stressful season instead of a rejuvenating one. Yes, buying gifts is one form of love, but its power pales in comparison to simply looking intently into someone’s eyes and listening to what she or he has to say. This Christmas, let us think less about presents and more about being present.
5. “When my bankroll is getting small/I think of when I had none at all/And I fall asleep/Counting my blessings.”
–White Christmas (1954)
These poignant song lyrics by Irving Berlin may seem a tad corny, but they can be seriously transformative if we take the time to reflect on them every night before going to sleep, especially during the Advent season. Despite our many worries and struggles, countless blessings abound in our lives, one of which is the indestructible love of Jesus Christ. If we fall asleep with a “Thank you” on our lips, we just might wake up with an “I can do this” on our hearts.
6. “Sometimes, at the height of our revelries, when our joy is at its zenith, when all is most right with the world, the most unthinkable disasters descend upon us.”
–A Christmas Story (1983)
Ah, the harsh realities of life. This hilarious quote reminds us how rare it is that everything goes according to plan, even during the most wonderful time of the year. Advent gives us the opportunity to place our complete trust in God so that even when the most unthinkable disasters descend upon us, we are still filled with steadfast faith, hope, and love.
7. “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”
This bubbly advice passed on by Buddy the Elf extols the often underestimated power of music. As they say, singing is like praying twice, and there is no better time to sing joyously than the days leading up to Christmas. There are so many lost souls who long to know that they are loved and cherished, and melodious reminders of their pricelessness might be quite effective. This Advent season, perhaps we can take the time to sing Christmas carols for nursing home residents, homeless people, and anyone else who might feel lost or forgotten.
8. RUDOLPH (talking about his red nose): “It’s terrible… And it’s different from everybody else’s!” CLARICE: “But that’s what makes it so grand.”
–Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
This touching exchange between two reindeer has rich relevance in the human world. Fitting in can be excruciatingly hard for the young and old alike, especially when a person has physical and/or personality traits that seem vastly different from everybody else’s. During the Advent season, we are called to remember the wondrous truth that we were each created by God with a unique design and purpose. Differences should be lovingly celebrated, not cruelly mocked. After all, Jesus came to save every single one of us.
9. “Live now, pay later. Diner’s Club! Why don’t you grow up, Baxter? Be a mensch! Do you know what that means?… A human being!”
–The Apartment (1960)
These stern but wise words spoken by Dr. Dreyfuss (Jack Kruschen) to C.C. “Bud” Baxter (Jack Lemmon) in Billy Wilder’s Christmastime classic The Apartment perfectly capture the hedonistic culture of fake love that modern society has largely embraced. Too often, people are used as objects rather than loved as human beings. This Christmas, let us recommit ourselves to defending the sacred dignity of every person, whether it be in romance or the workplace or anywhere that human worth is frequently trampled upon.
10. “Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see.”
–The Polar Express (2004)
This paradoxical statement perfectly summarizes what Christmas and religious faith in general is all about. None of us were present at the Nativity and can testify to the transformative power of that “Silent Night” so eloquently sung about in carols, but we believe in the truth of its power nevertheless, and this gives eternal meaning to our often difficult lives. We may not always be able to see God’s infinite love, but it is still constantly present and ready to paint our souls in unimaginably beautiful colors.
Well, that’s all, folks. What are some Christmas movie quotes that inspire you?
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