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“Is Jesus In It?”

December 21st, 2012by Bob Wurzelbacher

A couple years ago, my wife and I decided my then 2 year old daughter was old enough to watch a 30 minute Christmas cartoon.  We only had a few to choose from on DVD, but as we thought of many of the popular ones, we were concerned they all had things in them too scary for a two-year old.  Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer had the Abominable Snow Monster, Santa Claus is Coming to Town had Winter Warlock… so eventually we settled on Frosty the Snowman.

So we excitedly told Ellie that we had a special treat for her after dinner.

“What is it?” she asked.

“We’re going to watch a Christmas movie!” we exclaimed.

Ellie’s eyes grew big as saucers as she excitedly put down her sippy cup and could hardly contain her enthusiasm as she blurted out, “You mean a movie that really has Jesus, Mary and Joseph in it?”

“Um, no, Ellie, there is no Jesus, Mary or Joseph. But there is a talking snowman and Santa Claus! “

“Oh”, she says. 

Well, that little surprise did not go over as well as hoped.  She reluctantly even seemed to agree to watch it, and decided the magician was too scary in the first part of the movie and wouldn’t watch the rest of it.

(As an aside, that experience led my wife and I to go on a hunt for an actual kid-friendly Christmas movie with a real Jesus, Mary and Joseph.  And, we found one, called The Very First Noel.  I highly recommend it for kids of all ages.  You can order it online from any number of websites.)

Anyway, as usual, this experience led me down another reflection.  Even as someone who is trying very hard to raise my children to love Jesus and know the true meaning of Christmas, I was still corrected by a child who couldn’t understand how a movie about a talking snowman and a man in a bright red suit with magical powers could be referred to as a “Christmas” movie.  As we prepare to spend this Christmas season with family and friends—undoubtedly exchanging a few gifts and making at least glimpsing references to Rudolph and Santa—may we all look back on each day and ask ourselves as my 2 year old daughter did that day: “Are Jesus, Mary and Joseph in it?”

Photo credit: B. Wurzelbacher, Used with Permission

Bob Wurzelbacher

Bob Wurzelbacher serves as Associate Director for the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. He also serves as Pastoral Associate for Liturgy at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart parish in Reading. He lives in Cincinnati with his wife, Cindy, and two young daughters.