Last October we were walking down the street in New York City when we came to 34th Street. I looked to my left and there it was, the iconic Macy’s flagship store. I have not yet had the opportunity to be in New York for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but have watched it each year at home while the smell of roasting turkey fills the air. Now here I stood in the very place where this tradition takes place annually. More than the parade, I was reminded of the movie Miracle on 34th Street.
Miracle on 34th Street takes place in the holiday season with the parade as the backdrop. In the 1947 original version (there’s also a 1994 version), Maureen O’Hara plays Doris, Macy’s PR Director, Parade Coordinator and single mom to young Susan (Natalie Wood). O’Hara’s character is all business and frankly a little cold to most people. She has been hurt by a past relationship and has taught her daughter to only believe in what you can see and know to be true. Not really allowing her any of the awe and wonder most children have at Christmas.
You probably know the story; an elderly gentleman looking remarkably like Santa Claus and calling himself Kris Kringle steps in at the last moment to play Santa in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. He does such a believable job as Santa that Macy’s hires him to be the store Santa for the remainder of the holiday season. Through several twists and turns Kris finds himself on trial to prove that he is indeed who he says he is—Santa.
One of the main themes of the movie it to believe in something even if others don’t. Sound familiar? I am not suggesting that belief in Jesus be compared with belief in Santa. However some of the same observations might hold true.
Susan is skeptical to believe because of what she had been told by her mom. But with the innocence of a child’s heart, she wants to believe.
Doris doesn’t believe because of years of hurt and bad experiences. She feels that closing herself off from people and keeping them at a safe distance will protect her from being hurt. In reality, that behavior prevented her from finding love and acceptance until she let herself believe in the possibilities.
Susan and Doris are not very different from unbelievers we meet every day. So many in our world have been hurt by their past, having made mistakes that weigh them down. They can’t imagine how could anyone love or accept them, especially God.
Belief in God and trusting Christ to redeem us is exactly what we need and exactly what every unbeliever needs.
Jesus said in Luke 19:10, “for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” It doesn’t matter if we have doubted God in the past, feel like we have done too many bad things to be redeemed, or not even known that there was a Savior — He is here for you, ready to redeem you. Just believe.
Spoiler alert: By the end of the movie even the judge, the rivals from Gimbels (the competing department store), the prosecuting attorney, and Doris and Susan believe.
Miracle on 34th Street by itself may just be a movie script that leaves you with that warm fuzzy feeling during the Christmas season. But the spiritual implications offer thought provoking questions and discussion. Here are a few talking points for your family, friends, et cetera, to get the ball rolling.
- Why do they hire “Kris Kringle” to be the parade Santa?
- Why are they happy with Kris for his method of “marketing” by sending customers to stores with the best prices?
- Why does Doris not think Susan should believe in Santa?
- Why do you think Susan begins to believe in Kris?
- What is the turning point for the judge’s decision?
- How would you have defended Kris Kringle to prove he was Santa?
- How would you make sure others know that Jesus is real?
- Kris Kringle states, "If you can't accept anything in faith, then you're doomed to a life dominated by doubt." Do you agree? Why or why not?
- Fred says, “Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to.” Do you agree? Why or why not?
- Do you think the movie captures the true meaning of Christmas? If not, what is the true meaning?
- When you think about Santa Clause, what comes to mind? For example, what are his strengths and weaknesses, and how does that affect how you view him? What spiritual characteristics does he embody?
- In the movie, how does Kris Kringle change the lives of those around him? What might we learn from this?
- Is there anything miraculous in the movie? If so, how does it differ or compare to miracles in the Bible? What do you think defines a miracle?