Teenage Christmas

This is part of the Teenage Crusade series of short films from the late 1950’s/early 1960’s–other titles include Teenage Testament (Question: Is it okay to proselytize at work?  Answer: yes.), Teenage Conflict (Question: Is there a conflict between faith and science?  Answer: No, science just hasn’t discovered that faith has all the answers.), and Teenage Loyalty (Question: Is it okay to blow off youth group activities when you get a part in the school play? Answer: No, that makes baby Jesus cry.)

Family Films presents cutouts arranging themselves to illustrate the theme of the story.

Over at Trinity Church, the youth group sure is fired up, by golly!  They have so darned many things to do, like making a Nativity scene and planning a skating party.  But not everyone is in a good mood—Mitch is sniping at everyone, and poor Sue is “frantic” that she won’t make it through Christmas.  She’s so busy co-chairing the Nativity committee (and I’ll at least give the movie props for having a girl be a co-chair) that she doesn’t even have time to look at Aunt Margaret’s Christmas card!  Sue’s mother is worried about her daughter’s frantic-ness, and suggests she send a joyful Christmas card…to herself.  Oh, sure, mom, give the poor girl one more damn thing to do!

As the youth group is setting up the Nativity scene outside, a couple of little kids wander by with all sorts of questions.  A few of the Christian teens would be delighted to answer, but mean ole Mitch totally blows them off, aided and abetted by Sue.  But the kids will get their revenge, oh yes, they will!

Later that evening, Sue and Mitch are interrupted while decorating Sue’s Christmas tree.  (Wait, wasn’t Sue just whining that she didn’t have any time for anything but youth group stuff?  And why is Mitch helping her decorate her family’s tree, anyway?)  Before we can receive answers to these questions, the phone rings.  Someone’s been throwing snowballs at the Nativity scene!  Oh noes!

The crime

The Nativity scene doesn’t look all that bad, really.  Basically, one of the mannequins got knocked over.  But the kids…oops, I mean the unknown perpetrators…took Mary’s dress.  “It’s sacrilegious!” cries Sue.

Andy, president of the youth group, runs up with some news: the mailman spotted the kids running from the scene of the crime!  He even knows where they live.  Mitch is ready to go over there and lynch them immediately, but Andy counsels caution and that, “anything we do to them, we should do in the spirit of Christmas.”

Judge, jury, and executioners

The kids turn out to live in an impliedly-poor part of town.  Big sister Fay has to take care of them because Mom (gasp!) has to work.  Fay defends the kids, but under the youth group’s interrogation, the kids (now revealed to be named Freddy and Jane) crack and return the dress.

Counsel for the defense

Sue: The figure wearing the dress represents Mary, the mother of Jesus.  Now, you wouldn’t want to take anything like that, would you?

Defendant #1

Turns out Jane snatched the dress as a gift for their mom for Christmas (awww!).  This fact revealed, Sue and Mitch share a few pangs of Christian guilt.  Andy hopes to help the kids out.  Not, you understand, by helping the poor kids get a present for their mom, but by teaching them “what Christmas is really all about.”

Defendant #2

Sue invites all three siblings to Christmas at the church.  Fay declines, saying she is “too busy.”  Although the movie never touches on this, I think it’s worth pointing out that Fay probably really is too busy, and busy with real concerns like taking care of small children and keeping house for a single mom who has to “work until she’s ready to drop.”  Not, you understand, the “too busy” of Sue, whose busy activities include decorating trees, skating, and signing Christmas cards.

But that’s certainly not the point.  The point, explained by Andy, is that “God cares” about Christmas.  Despite Fay politely declining four separate times, Andy’s on an evangelizing roll, here, and he’s not letting up until he’s got these folks in the pews, dammit!  He knows how to pick his battles, though, and convinces Fay to allow Freddy and Jane to go back with the teens and clean up the Nativity scene.  Now that Andy has the kids away from their older sister, he has free reign to proselytize unhindered!  The cleaning lasts for all of five seconds before the teens kneel in the snow and give the kids the whole Christmas spiel.

But despite the opportunity to proselytize to impressionable children, Sue is still in a pissy mood later at home, when Mitch calls her to remind her about going carol-singing.  (First he helps her decorate her tree and now this, eh?  He totally wants her.)

Just before the teens leave the church, they spot Freddy and Jane by the Nativity scene again.  They must be back to throw more snowballs!  The teen gang sneak up to the scene to catch the kids in the act…but it turns out Freddy and Jane have brought Fay with them, and are teaching her the Christmas story (like all nonbelievers, Fay is completely ignorant of the basics of Christianity).  They’ve also managed to internalize some nice Christmas guilt: “Do you think God will forgive us?”

Delighted that the evangelizing has worked, Sue grins (Mainly in Mitch’s direction.  Yeah, she wants him, too.), and proclaims that, “Now I feel like singing!”  So does Mitch.  And I’m sure the knowledge that a couple of spoiled teenagers now feel a bit more cheerful will help Freddy and Jane cope with the fact that they still have no Christmas present for their hard-working Mommy.

Bah, humbug.

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Posted on November 26, 2009, in Christmas, Completed Critiques, Movies, Teenage Christmas, Vintage. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Oh dear. This seems to be the distilled essence of every Christmas movie on TV combined with The Worst Christmas Pageant Ever.

    Save that TWCPE acknowledged that the troubled delinquents had, you know, actual problems that needed to be addressed in their home life and were the way they were due to having a mom who worked almost 24/7.

    Though now I think about it, no one really does anything about the kid’s poor situation in TWCPE, either. They’re still poor, and even end up donating a ham from the care package that their social worker brought them to the church. Hrm.

  2. It might not be the best-produced movie ever, but it is the message that is important — that Jesus Christ, God the Son, left Heaven, took the form of a human, born in Israel, lived a sinless life, and gave His life on the cross as payment for the sins of any person who believes in Him as Savior, and rose again from the grave to live forevermore. He is the only way to Heaven and eternal life. If any of your readers get a chance to watch this movie, look and listen, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved !!
    Merry Christmas !!

    • I’m sure you and many other consider the message important. The thing is, most of us have heard this message before. A lot in fact. Those of us that don’t believe it by now can safely be assumed to need a little more than a repeat of the statement that someone else is sure it’s true, either by you or by a movie.

      And while I don’t find anything objectable about your message as you said it (I don’t believe it, and I don’t particularly care for your assumption that we’re all just waiting to hear it again, but the message itself you can say all you want), many of us here dislike and mock the additional messages in these movies. And I’m afraid you’re not helping your evangelizing case here by defending anything with questionable quality or messages in it as long as the one message you want to send is in it. Because it suggest that your message and the questionable messages are a package deal. This only serves to make people think that Christianity as a whole is objectional, as it looks like it comes standard with objectional morals.

      If you’re interested in making us see what you think is the most important truth in our life, you’re welcome to debate with us and try to convince us of your position (naturally, we’ll do likewise), but the odds of a single drive by post with a statement converting anyone are low.

      Merry Christmass! (Yeah, I could say Happy Holidays, but that’s pointlessly petty. In the War on Christmass, I’m Switzerland.)

    • Welcome, dwoofer. As you can see from my review, my concerns go way beyond the production values. In fact, what annoy me most about this movie are the implications that:

      1. Sue’s “need” to get into the spirit of Christmas and evangelize is much more important than the poor family’s need for clothes and time together, and

      2. It is a good thing to use small children as a means to the end of getting a family into church, whether or not that is what the adults in the family want.

      As to your advice, I have watched this movie. Several times. I remain a nonbeliever. If there is any special magic to either the message or the movie, it is not compelling enough to change my mind.

      As Ivan says, you are more than welcome to debate with us about the message and/or the movie (have you seen it?). Debate, of course, requires more than mere assertions: in order to convince people of the merits of your position, you generally need to provide evidence and solid arguments.

      In the meantime, Happy Wintermas!

    • Grammar Police

      An “important message” does not excuse slipshod delivery. If anything, it means the delivery must be a worthy conveyor of the message.

      It’s ok, dwoofer. You don’t have to defend this crap just because it tries to give a Christian message. You can have standards when it comes to entertainment and still be a Christian. I promise.

  3. Hey! i totally missed this before now. I can’t find the movie anywhere so it looks like I’ll have to be happy with the vicarious viewing and snark. 😛

  4. It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d certainly donate to this fantastic blog!
    I suppose for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account.
    I look forward to fresh updates and will share
    this site with my Facebook group. Chat soon!

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