SURRATT: Movies remind me of the true meaning of Christmas

Published 4:00 am Friday, December 23, 2022

I’m a little late this year.

I haven’t watched two of my favorite Christmas movies and today, it’s two days before Christmas.

I guess everybody’s got a favorite Christmas movie, whether it’s “It’s a Wonderful Life,” or “A Christmas Story,” or one of the made-for-TV movies on the Hallmark Channel or one of the other cable or satellite service channels that were playing holiday movies before Thanksgiving.

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletter

Receive daily headlines and obituaries

There are three I films enjoy, “The Bishop’s Wife,” with Cary Grant, David Niven and Loretta Young, and two adaptations of the Charles Dickens tale, “A Christmas Carol.”

One version is an English film, “Scrooge,” starring Alastair Sim, and a 1980s version of  “A Christmas Carol” starring George C. Scott.

All three are wonderful films and worth a look if you ever get the chance to catch them on the tube. In “The Bishop’s Wife,” Cary Grant plays an angel who comes to earth to help David Niven, who is an Episcopal bishop trying to balance his life against the wishes of a materialistic woman who wants a cathedral built with a chapel honoring her late husband prominently displayed in the new building.

We have all heard or read “A Christmas Carol.” We know all about Ebenezer Scrooge, the unsympathetic, miserly, tight-with-a-dollar character who doesn’t like Christmas and is no fan of goodwill toward men.

What I like in these movies is the emphasis on the spirit of Christmas — peace and goodwill toward men. That we should love and respect our neighbors and not judge them by the way they look or the way they live, and that we practice love and charity not just on Christmas but throughout the year.

As the Ghost of Christmas Present told Scrooge, “We Spirits of Christmas do not live only one day of our year. We live the whole 365. So it is true of the Child born in Bethlehem. He does not live in men’s hearts one day of the year but in all days of the year.

That, I believe, is the lesson all three of my favorite Christmas movies stress. Keeping the Christmas spirit is not something that is carried out one week or day of the year, but all year long, and it doesn’t have to be that much.

It can be something like a simple greeting, helping someone at work or doing some good deed that might help restore someone’s faith in humanity.

Scrooge’s repentance came, not only in the form of donations to the poor but his reconciliation with his nephew Fred and the way he treated his clerk Bob Cratchit.

In “The Bishop’s Wife,” David Niven’s sermon about the lone stocking for Jesus is a fitting ending for the movie and a reminder of the reason for the season:

“It’s his birthday we’re celebrating. Don’t let us ever forget that.

“Let us ask ourselves what He would wish for most. And then let each put in his share, loving kindness, warm hearts and a stretched-out hand of tolerance. All the shining gifts that make peace on earth.”

Remember that child Saturday and Sunday, and may all of you have a Merry Christmas.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

email author More by John