I’ve always loved Christmas! From the time I was a child through my son’s and daughter’s growing up years, we gathered as a family to pick out the tree and decorate the house. We made Christmas cookies and prepared special meals while singing Christmas carols, and we watched TV specials like Andy Williams and the Osmond Brothers, cartoons like A Charlie Brown Christmas and happy-ending movies, my favorite being White Christmas with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney.
White Christmas is still one of my favorites, but even with snow falling in the mountains this Christmas Eve day just like at the end of the movie, my thoughts drift instead to the science fiction movie Surrogates.
What’s the connection?
Surrogates tells the futuristic story of a society where people interact in the “real world” via idealized surrogate robots. All young and attractive, the surrogates function as public faces for people who control their robots from home. The real selves never leave the safety of home and do not feel pain when their surrogates are damaged. Although designed to protect operators from danger and suffering in the “real world”, surrogates can be destroyed and real selves can die.
One of the main characters, apparently traumatized by the death of her son years previously, communicates with others solely via her surrogate. Even privately at home with her husband, she uses her surrogate to protect herself from grief and as a result sacrifices intimacy. In the end when the surrogate network crashes, real-self husband and real-self wife embrace and people, bewildered and fearful, emerge from their homes.
How do I experience Christmas?
I suspect that often it is via my TV-watching surrogate. My “real” self only experiences the real Christmas when open to the story of people who know fear, humility and awe, wonder, doubt and trust, hope, peace and joy. Mary and Joseph embraced a wonderful, bewildering, new world of tenderness and danger.
So today I’m singing Irving Berlin’s lyrics, “May your days be merry and bright…” and quoting Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace…”