by Chris Monroe
Also see our REVIEW of “Christmas with the Kranks”
While meeting with “Christmas With the Kranks” creators Chris Columbus, Tim Allen and Dan Aykroyd, one topic that kept coming up was sacrifice and how it lies at the crux of this story. What is it that inspires us to give of ourselves? Why do we want to make sacrifices when it is never convenient or comfortable? Where do we learn how to do this?
Talking with Writer/Producer Chris Columbus, I asked him where he thinks the impetus comes from for us to make the kind of sacrifices that Tim Allen’s character makes in this movie. Here is what he said:
I think it’s really difficult. I think it really is. I’ve been in that situation—and I think we all have a hundred times [where] it’s easy to go pick up a gift for someone. And that’s a sweet thing to do, and it’s a wonderful thing to do, but to make that ultimate sacrifice, you know, to really give something of yourself that’s going to hurt, is difficult to do. I think Tim realized that about himself—and he’s not Ebenezer Scrooge—but he is a person who’s selfish. And I think people in this day and age tend to be selfish.
Living in Europe for four years and coming back here, I realized that we really take ourselves seriously as Americans. We really do. As part of that, people tend to be selfish, and talk about the things that they own and what they have. And I think it’s important to realize that the big sacrifice you can give at Christmas time is probably the thing that’s the most important to you.
While agreeing with his ideas, I was still curious as to how this idea of sacrifice ever began in the first place. Where do we learn this? What initially provided the example for us to do something that goes against the selfish things we do so instinctively?
Actor/writer Dan Aykroyd was able to pinpoint even more directly some of the problems that Chris Columbus mentioned. Aykroyd said:
You see, the problem with it is we’re only nice to each other, formally, in this society, on Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. We should be nice to each other all year.
We should be espousing the Judeo Christian values of, you know, “Treat others like you wish to be treated,” and, “To those whom much has been given, much will be required.” You know, these are the words of the Christ, and they should be embraced throughout the year—not only at Christmas time, Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day.
Adding to that, Aykroyd also pointed out how he and his loved ones would be spending his holiday this year. He said:
So, Donna and my family, we know Christmas is there everyday in our house. And we’re not spending money on presents; we’re going to the Far East on a trip. And we’re going to, you know, spend the money we would normally spend on some kind of Christmas thing on travel.
Inquiring about the idea of sacrifice with Tim Allen also brought up the issue of human selfishness. I asked him where he thinks that impetus comes from for his character in the film—and for people in general—to sacrifice. Allen said:
It’s a funny thing that you say that because I’ve watched and asked my sister, who’s a physical therapist and a trainer, and said, ”Why is it that some people make the decision to lose weight and change their lives? What is that moment? And wouldn’t that be a great moment to bottle if you could figure out how.”Tim Allen’s faith?
To me [Allen’s character, Luther] it had to happen in that moment of clarity, sitting at that table, by himself, completely humiliated by his behavior. Believe me, I don’t know what that little moment [is] and this guy’s moment [Allen’s character, Luther] happens because Jamie Lee is really good at humiliating me. She really lost faith in me for that moment, and I felt it. I was petulant and self-absorbed with that toast.” Yeah, I’m glad everybody’s here. I’m glad that all you people have come together and made this work for my daughter. Everything’s working, but I am still not getting what I want.”
And I’ve been there a million times in my life when someone reminds me that, “This really isn’t about you.” Nothing worse in the world than hearing that.
It’s during this moment in the film where Allen’s character realizes his selfishness and decides to make a sacrifice. He doesn’t just give a gift, but he gives something of himself. He gives something that really means something to him in order to benefit someone else. But where do we ultimately learn how to be utterly selfless?
It’s more than appropriate that a story with this theme should come out at Christmas time. The sacrifice made in this story reminds us of the ultimate gift that God has given to all of us, and the reason why we celebrate at this time of year. There was never any higher sacrifice made than God sending his only, perfect Son, Jesus Christ for us. It is only from God that we have ever known how to do anything good or selfless for anyone else. First John 4:19 says,
“We love Him [God] because He first loved us”
God has set the ultimate example for us in giving and sacrificing.
It is challenging, yet freeing, to know that the best thing we can do at Christmas is to give of ourselves. Jesus also said that it is better to give than to receive. It is challenging because it goes against our human nature, but it is freeing because it has first been done for us. That is one of the most exciting things to celebrate at Christmas. And as Dan Aykroyd said, this is something that we can embrace all throughout the year.
Read our review of “Christmas with the Kranks”