Author Ava Pennington
Author Ava Pennington

You’ve probably seen one or two Hallmark Christmas movies on television. I have. Well…that’s not quite true. I haven’t seen one or two. More like thirty-one or thirty-two. Year after year. And I keep coming back for more, enjoying the warm fuzzies each story provides.


I’ve noticed something disconcerting the past several years. The more I watch these movies (and the commercials, too!), the more I have to fight the effects of the Hallmark halo – the influence that instills an unrealistic view of Christmas…and life in general.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the stories. The romances. The reconciled relationships—years of strife resolved in 100 minutes (not including commercial breaks). The magic of Christmas—provisions for every need nestled in the bottom of Santa’s sack.

Nativity - 3

But the real “magic” (if I might use that word loosely) of Christmas lies in the One whose birth we celebrate.

His virgin birth.
His sinless life.
His miracles.
His substitutionary, sacrificial death on the cross.
His resurrection.
His deity.

All the things the world rejects.

Yet the rejection of Jesus creates a problem. It leaves a void. A void that has been filled with a captivating substitute. Someone who…

…lives forever.

…does only good.

…miraculously provides for our every need.

Sounds like Jesus, doesn’t it? But it’s not.

The world rejects Jesus’s claims, then ascribes similar characteristics to Santa. They take the touching story of Bishop Nicholas of Myra—a selfless man who served Jesus Christ—and create a myth larger than life.

This isn’t a diatribe against Santa. It’s a lament. These days, it seems we would rather celebrate a deity of our own creation than worship the One whose birth is the cause for the holiday. In the process, we create unreasonable expectations and fuel those expectations with Hallmark movies and commercials. We set ourselves up for failure by requiring

the perfect Christmas tree,

perfect meals,

perfect gifts for everyone on our list,

the perfect Christmas,

then wonder why our Christmases don’t measure up to a manufactured ideal.

I probably won’t stop watching Hallmark movies altogether. But I intend to be more aware of the effects of the Hallmark halo. Unreasonable expectations. Relationships instantly repaired. A sense of entitlement for happy endings.

If my Christmas festivities are to be influenced by something, I want them to be influenced by the One whose birth I celebrate. And I’ll trust God for the “happy endings” He promises to bring in His perfect timing.

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