Once Upon a Christmas

It is no secret that Disney has quite intentionally stayed out of the realm of religion and religious celebrations.  Walt himself insisted that there was no church on Disney’s Main Street.  However, no company functioning in the United States can entirely ignore Christmas.  It takes over our televisions, our stores, and our lives for a month or more each year.  Corporations ignore it at their own peril.  In fact, while Disney continues to side step most other religious holidays, Christmas has quite a hold on Disney.

In addition to decorations, parades, and shows; Walt Disney World has a Christmas party event and Disneyland has a Holiday themed tour of the park.  Freeform (formerly ABC Family) runs Christmas specials during the “25 Days of Christmas” (which  doesn’t even include the real 12 days of Christmas, but that’s another issue).  There are Christmas ornaments, treats, decorations, and apparel.  There are also Christmas specials.  Tellingly, Disney manages to remove all the outer symbols of the nativity and focuses on snow and Santa, family and friends, gifts and giving.  No angels, churches, mangers, or magi in site.  And yet somehow in spite of this the message of Christ shines through.

The three short films in this collection are meaningful in spite of their cast.  There is something powerful about Goofy carrying food though the snow to a neighborhood family who has fallen on hard times.  Huey, Dewey, and Louis finding Christmas joy in serving others.  Mickey & Minnie reenacting “The Gift of the Magi” through self-sacrificial love.  It doesn’t matter that Jesus isn’t mentioned or the gospel isn’t preached.  Discipleship is lived out and love is made manifest.  While it is not labeled, it is present all the same.  Honestly, isn’t that what we are called to do.

We are to live our lives so that the people we come in contact with on a daily basis know that we are disciples, not just during the Christmas Season but every day.  We don’t need to be sure that everyone know we are Christian.  If we follow Jesus, if we live as disciples, if we exemplify what it is to be a Christian, the label will not matter.  It is more important that we live the life not define it.  The message of Nativity and Incarnation can be heard even through snow, Santa, and piles of gifts.  It is up to us to make sure the love and grace that was manifest in Jesus is shared with the world Christmas Day and every day.

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