Movies are most powerful when they jump off the screen and into our lives. Kris recently recommended several good DVDs for this holiday season, and I’d like to offer my own suggestions. These are a few DVDs that have jumped into the Howe family’s life, sparked real discussions with our kids, and are worthy of rediscovery before making New Year’s resolutions next week. And I’ve even given you a headstart on what those resolutions might be:

Grow a Less Grinchy Heart. The Grinch (“How the Grinch Stole Christmas”) was unable to receive love, so he had none to give. Eventually, though, the Grinch’s heart grew and he opened himself up to love—and roast beast.

Create Miracles on Your Street. The 1947 classic “Miracle on 34th Street” breathes life and hope into anyone who struggles to have faith in anything…or anyone in my home, my neighborhood, my community, my country?

Reach Out to Those Who Are “Home Alone.” Macauley Caulkin’s “Kevin” was alone temporarily due to a comedic family oversight. The beauty of the movie was how he got beyond his fears to share hope and life lessons with the feared old man across the street.

Wow! I’ve Got “A Wonderful Life.” After the singing and the angel who gets his wings, George is still not financially secure like his brother or rich friend. He still hasn’t traveled to see the world. Mr. Potter is still on the Board of the Building & Loan, and still holds the mortgage on most of the town. And George still has a full-time job that nobody wants. All he has is the love and adoration of his wife and children, and the richness of friends.

Love the Scrooges in My Life. We’ve all probably got at least one Ebenezer Scrooge in our lives, if not more. Our boss. Our neighbor. A family member. The redemption of “A Christmas Carol” isn’t simply that Mr. Scrooge is transformed, but that a crippled boy with no material blessings turns out to be the primary agent of change, at least in the human sphere.

The Gift of Time, Not Just Treasure. In 1996’s “Jingle All the Way,” Arnold Schwarzenegger embarks on every father’s nightmare: He’s promised his son a gift that’s been sold out for weeks, and he lied to his wife by saying he already had it. In the end, he secures the Turbo Man action figure–but discovers that what his son really wanted all along is a relationship with his dad, the real action hero in his life.

The Joy of an Imperfect Christmas. “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” pokes fun at the mishaps in a harried family’s holiday celebration. In a performance-driven, high-efficiency world, it’s good to be reminded that no one is perfect and that love is not conditioned on perfection.

Whatever our movie preferences, we can move past asking “Did I like it?” to asking instead, “How does it speak to my life spiritually?” Perhaps it will lead me to a time of reading or prayer that helps me become the kind of person I long to be, the kind of person movies get made about. Not just a character, but a person of character.

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