My drug of choice is completely legal, only mildly addictive, and readily available to millions of homes with a TV and cable service. No, the addiction is not viewing pornography. It is something the entire family can binge on together.
Nor is it watching football, basketball, hockey or even figure skating. My “drug” of choice is seasonal.
This year its “pushers” began doling out in small doses immediately following Halloween, but did not release the motherlode until Thanksgiving weekend. Okay, I’ll just come right out and say it, “I am addicted to Hallmark Christmas movies!”
For those of you who are unfamiliar with this genre of made-for-TV-movies, its basic components are simple. Some of the movies are rom-coms featuring someone engaged to the “wrong” person or desperately seeking the right person. Others are dramas about tragic loss or painful family estrangement. And some films feature an overwrought discontented Scrooge-like character in need of emotional “de-icing.”
Regardless of the plot, they all share one compelling thing in common — a heart-warming resolution. Mr. and Ms. Right discover one another and marry; the bereaved parent, spouse or child find comfort; estranged siblings reconcile; and “Scrooge’s” once embittered heart is transformed, overflowing with love. The source of all this contentment and peace is simple — it is all the work of the all-powerful (if not ill-defined) “Christmas spirit.”
What makes these movies compelling, and for some of us, addicting, is their realism. In spite of predictable dialogue, “B” quality performances, and comically fake snow, they surface and satisfy painfully real longings. We all know the anguish of loveless relationships, the devastation of loss, the isolation of estrangement, and the hardness of heart forged by chronic pain and disappointment. We yearn for the reality of the happy ending — the gifts of authentic love, deep comfort, lasting reconciliation, and life-transforming joy. We are addicted to the hope for a better life these movies ignite.
Our suffering is real, and our hope for something better is real, and our hope’s fulfillment can be real. But… fulfillment is not found in the movie world’s myth of “Christmas spirit” or “faith that things will turn out.” It comes from faith in something eminently real and quite tangible.
Hope’s fulfillment comes from faith in the fact behind the myth of Christmas spirit — the birth of Israel’s promised Messiah, Yeshua of Nazareth, of whom it was said, “…and you shall call His name Yeshua, for He will save His people from their sins.” The realization of our hope comes through trusting in Yeshua.
My name is Dan, and I am not really addicted to Hallmark Movies. But I am addicted to the promise of new life in Messiah. It is my prayer that you will join me in this “addiction.” May each silly and untenable Hallmark journey through suffering to hope remind you that not only is the pain you are experiencing real, but your hope for something better and its fulfillment can also be real.
Hallmark can never compete with the ultimate happy ending that’s available to us through faith, all because God sent His Son to give us the ultimate gift, new life.
This blog post was used with permission by Dan Strull, LIFE Board Member and pastor of Olive Tree Congregation of Suburban Chicago. You can read more “Musings from a Messianic Perspective” by Dan Strull on his website https://danstrull.net/.