Christmas movies tend to follow a formula, but part of that may be because the essence of Christmas hasn’t changed. Conceivably it has been the same since people first started celebrating this particular date as a holiday in 336 AD.
I find it fascinating that we keep watching the same stories, in different forms, year after year. What is even more phenomenal is the massive industry that has grown up to generate similar movies, with the same basic message. It really isn’t surprising though, as it fits entirely with my experience in teaching and learning. To be truly successful in passing on a message a good teacher will communicate it in many different ways. Eventually one will resonate with the student and be absorbed.
If that is the case then Four Christmases sends the message of the importance of tolerance and love, in a clear, blatantly obvious way. This message will body slam you with as much force as the brothers of Brad (Vince Vaughn), our male lead, slammed him.
We may imagine that others in our social circle are better role models of family harmony and love, which may be true for some. However, “Four Christmases”, while taking some license with believability, demonstrates that “normal” is rare and “unique” is common when it comes to those we know best. With that said, it is time to stop wishing that your family were as “normal” as that perfect hallmark one that you have set up as your benchmark and learn to love the one you’re with.
A little stereotypically it is the female lead, Kate (Reese Witherspoon), who absorbs this message first. Over one intense day, with the four families that she and Brad are forced to visit, she sees the world and her dreams like never before. She grows up, puts aside the selfish behaviour she’d indulged herself in and takes on the responsibilities of life, that she ignored before.
My family is not normal. We all started in the same place, but life has lead each of us along diverse roads and into worlds that are completely different, yet entirely the same on some core level. Hmmm, it is my guess that this describes your family too.
Have I finally grown up? Family is the world around me. Therefore, it is my joy for Christmas to include ex partners, new friends, old family and anyone who needs a little cheer. It was only when I learned to focus on how others experience Christmas and let go of my own childish expectations, that I finally heard and saw what Christmas is all about.
If you’re tired of the warm, fuzzy, inescapable nature of Christmas platitudes, then “Four Christmases” may be a little refreshing. It will probably make you laugh at Brad and Kate’s families and also, your own. Other than pure entertainment, it is interesting how our members reacted to this movie, with men saying they want to appreciate family more and women, that they want to be less selfish. All the same, it may be just the right blend of lessons to send you further along in your understanding of the reason that we celebrate Christmas.
If you haven’t already seen it, watch the trailer HERE