There’s only one day left until Christmas, and ’tis the season for curling up with a cozy blanket, sipping hot chocolate, and enjoying a yearly viewing of your favourite holiday films.
Many people have made an annual tradition of watching these films; some go for the sentimental classics (come on, Christmas Eve viewing of “A Christmas Carol“!), while others gravitate towards the “so bad it’s good” category, seeking out the worst of the worst holiday films so they can enjoy a good laugh instead of a good cry.
Now that we’re on the topic of “so bad it’s good” films, let me start by saying that taste in movies, as well as most other things in life, is subjective. And I am well aware that I fall into that rare category of
weirdos people who think that a lot of the “so bad they’re good” films are actually just legitimately GOOD. “Evil Dead“, “They Live”, “Hell Comes to Frogtown”, “Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow”, “Werewolves on Wheels”….. subjectively most people think these movies are terrible.
I do not.
To me, these are cult classics and deserve to be treated with respect.
So when I spotted a film titled, “Santa Claus vs the Devil”, and it was from 1959, I mean……
Now, I’m sure most of you probably haven’t even heard of this little jewel in the rough before, but are you in for a treat today! Because in my never-ending quest to find and share hidden cinematic and literary treasures with the world, today I’m serving up a Christmas dilly.
“Santa Claus vs the Devil” is actually a Mexican production, filmed in Spanish, but later dubbed into English. In 1960, U.S. distributor K. Gordon Murray arranged for the film to be shown as the children’s matinée in the United States. And this year, it turned 60 years old!
There’s a narrator who speaks throughout the film, explaining the situations and often reacting as the audience would to what’s going on, as well as the dialogue from the characters directly.
This is a fun little tale of Santa’s big Christmas Eve night, visiting children all over the world. The rub is that one of the Devil’s minions, Pitch, has also been sent to Earth to cause trouble for poor Santa Claus. The film is a fantastic illustration of how the Devil tries to influence us to do wrong, and the struggle we face to persevere and do right.
This is definitely a movie that I think children would adore. If you’re an adult like myself who values a good message no matter how haphazardly it’s being delivered, then you too will find this tugging at your heart strings, as well as your conscience.
I’m just going to say it — the film is a masterpiece. Yes, it’s old. Yes, it’s dubbed. Yes, it’s
totally kind of a tad ridiculous at times. But the message, oh, the message is pure gold, and I cried my frickin’ face off.
Before I get into my analysis, I’d like to share that much to my delight, you can watch this film right now on Youtube in pretty excellent quality:
Away up in the heavens, far out in space, in a beautiful gold and crystal palace right above the North Pole, lives a kind and jolly old gentleman. Santa Claus. Also known as Saint Nicholas. The best friend of boys and girls everywhere. But let’s move in for a closer look… come along…
This film reminded me SO much of another extremely underrated favourite, “The Story of Mankind” (1957), which only added to its charm for me.
The scene opens on jolly old St. Nick putting the finishing touches on a Nativity display. Not ten seconds into this film and its already earning brownie points with lil’ Miss WendyLovesJesus over here.
Now, if you DO watch the movie, please keep in mind that this film was intended for children, and originally it aired in non-dubbed Spanish. The English-dubbed Santa’s never-ending creepy laughter is somewhat of a constant laughing point in the film because it does, in fact, sound kind of ridiculous. And Santa’s mannerisms are often exaggerated and cartoonish, but again… it’s for the children. So go ahead and have your laugh in the beginning, but please don’t lose sight that the point of this film is its message.
While I’m about to tell you all the reasons you should watch this film, I will preface it with a small criticism. In all honesty, the first ten minutes of the film feel more like 37 minutes, and are probably not even necessary, but NOT for the reason that critics of the film will tell you.
For ten straight minutes of this 90 minute tale, the film features children from all different countries of the world, different ethnicities, different languages, different cultures, who are all working in Santa’s international toy factory.
Here are gathered boys and girls of different races and creeds. They have come from many lands to help Santa bring joy and happiness to all of the Earth’s children.
It is the opinion of some that this segment is inappropriate and racist. But I’m here to tell you THAT is hogwash and Christmas Humbug. If anything, I think this was included as a means of being just the opposite — the film is trying to make the story as inclusive as possible, showing the children watching that the Earth is a big place, and in it there are many other children who come from many different cultures. Though they may look and speak differently, in the eyes of Santa (and hopefully therefore the viewer), they’re all valued and loved just the same; and in the story, all are working together to help Santa make enough toys for deserving children everywhere.
And the film does a fantastic job of illustrating the cultural uniqueness of each country it features. It’s (sadly) popular opinion today that by showcasing the cultural dress of a nationality that you’re somehow mocking or invalidating it. Um……. how about no. Just no. Just stop. If this is your opinion, then I’d highly recommend that you just keep it to yourself and stop trying to sow dissension and hatred where there is none. Okay? Okay.
I actually enjoyed seeing such a variety of traditional ethnic dress, and hearing melodies sung in so many different languages. In total, the film shows children from no less than 15 different countries!
Which, as I said, is a pretty neat idea, buuuut…. they spend a LOT of time on each one, and it’s basically just little kids singing badly. The film could have been improved by cutting this entire segment down a bit. Not removing it, just trimming it up. Even at half the length, it would make the whole movie more watchable. If you take too long to get into your story, the story is going to suffer. And sadly, I admit, that does happen here. It’s a tedious 10 minutes to watch, and doesn’t actually do anything to get us into the story. I’d highly recommend that if you’re watching this on YouTube, increase the playback speed to 1.25 or 1.5. The segment is 99% visuals anyway, so you aren’t going to compromise your viewing by speeding it up. (And as a side note, in all honestly, I’d recommend watching the entire film at 1.25 speed — the whole thing is better a tad sped up!)
So we’ve met the first half of the film’s title characters….. now comes the introduction of the other.
A few of the children bring Santa a little Devil toy that spins around when you light its fuse. Suddenly, a real devil appears, and we’re transported to a legitimately scary cinematic stand-in for Hell. The lighting is appropriately red in nature, and you can almost smell the sulfur and brimstone. This place of dancing devils is sure to give any kid nightmares, but hey, that’s kind of the point.
And this is Pitch, chief of all demons. The disembodied voice of Lucifer commands Pitch to journey back to Earth to carry out his evil bidding. He warns Pitch not to fail him again — he must not be defeated by that “bearded old goat” Santa Claus.
Lucifer threatens that if Pitch is unsuccessful at making all the children of the Earth do evil, he will be punished: Instead of red-hot coals, he will be forced to eat chocolate ice cream! (Chocolate is very bad for Pitch’s digestion, which is delicate.) Pitch vows to make the children commit terrible deeds and make Santa Claus angry.
And so the Devil rose to earth. You heard what he said to Lucifer, but will he be able to keep his promise?
As a final act in hell, Pitch burns up a newspaper with the following headline: “El Espiritu de Navidad Trae la Paz a la Tierra — “The Christmas Spirit Brings Peace to the Earth”.
The scene transitions from one hellish nightmare directly into another — right into a 1959 department store window where literally the creepiest automaton Santa Claus I have ever laid eyes on is laughing and swaying, and generally terrifying the dozens of children and parents who are looking on.
Wait, they’re all smiling in delight. I guess it’s just me who’s terrified. Okay, carry on.
This scene right here really dates this film, and Nightmare Santa aside, it’s just a charming glimpse at the wonder and innocence which marked the hopeful 1950’s world. This is sadly not something that you would see today.
Children, their faces pressed against a department store window, are admiring all of the toys on display, and gazing with optimistic anticipation at what Santa might bring them for Christmas.
First, we see a good little boy — a cute curly-haired child who has a very wealthy father. Both are all smiles, knowing that Christmas morning will bring many toys and much happiness. This little boy is one of the main characters in the story.
But sadly, not every little red-cheeked face is so optimistic. Now we’re introduced to a poor mother, who clutches a baby with one hand, and her small daughter Lupita with the other. Lupita’s fondest dream is to own a doll. Any doll. But we can already tell that little Lupita and her family have nothing. Just looking at her little face breaks my heart, and honestly, if I saw that child standing outside of a store, I hope I would go in and buy her something. Lupita is another main character of the film.
We wouldn’t have a story though, if all that was represented was the “good” children. Three little bullies have just pushed and shoved their way to the window. “But the Devil likes rude little boys, and it doesn’t take him long to find them. They’re just right for his evil plan.”
And with the Devil whispering sweet nothings in their ears, we bear witness to the struggle that every man and woman faces every single day of their lives: When the Devil tempts us to do wrong, will we listen, or resist?
Back at Santa’s Magic Observatory, a few of his little helpers, including a boy named Pedro, have been observing these children on Earth: The rich boy, poor Lupita, and the bullies.
Santa doesn’t want to hear about the bad boys though, they’ll be punished in due course. The ones he must reward are the other children, like the good little girl.
The Observatory is filled with all sorts of fantastical devices, which allow Santa to know everything that’s happening on Earth. There’s a very, um, questionable set of giant-size lips on one of the machines, but we’re not going to talk about that.
Using the Cosmic Telescope, Santa and Pedro locate Lupita in Mexico. She’s currently on a busy street enjoying a puppet show that’s being performed. The narrator tells us that Lupita is still dreaming about the doll she wants for Christmas. As her mother pulls her away, Lupita stops at one of the street vendor tables that’s covered in dolls….. and she slips one into her sweater.
“Lupita isn’t thinking about stealing that doll, is she? No, no, Lupita! You shouldn’t steal! Put it back!” The narrator implores.
Her mother calls her, and Lupita turns to join her, but….. she’s torn. Clutching the new doll, she looks at her mother, then back to the table she’s taken it from. And suddenly, here comes Pitch.
“It’s yours. Nobody saw you take it, Lupita. They have more, they won’t miss it. What does one little doll matter? Don’t you see? You haven’t got any toys. Keep it.”
The narrator again implores her to return the doll, again iterating that stealing is bad and she’ll be sorry for doing it. And with a heart-warming musical cue that’s straight out of Leave It To Beaver, Lupita walks back to the table, and returns the doll.
But the Devil never gives up so easily. Once again, he tries to tempt Lupita. “Silly girl! Now you’ll have to do without a dolly! Little girls must steal or do without the things they like!”
Once more, the narrator is the voice of reason: “No, that’s not true, Lupita! If you’re good, somehow you’ll be rewarded.” And we watch as the doll Lupita put back is quickly snatched up by someone else, and a tear rolls down her little cheek. Where the heck is my kleenex?
But Santa has been watching, much the same way that the Lord watches us. It’s very easy to think that doing the right thing is a waste of time, especially when doing it seemingly brings you no reward. But the Lord is always watching. And as we’re going to learn, ignoring the Devil and doing the right thing will always bring a reward. Maybe not right away. But it will.
We now go in search of the little rich boy, who is currently sound asleep in his bed. With his magical equipment, Santa is able to see what the boy is dreaming about.
In the dream, the boy runs down a grand staircase, and finds two gigantic gift boxes wrapped up with bows next to the Christmas tree. What could be in them??
Would these be toys? Why, these contain what a child loves best — his parents.
There are many lessons in this film, and we’re beginning to witness one of them. The boy has all the toys he could want, his father is rich. He need but ask, and his parents provide. But as Santa soberly observes, “A dream is a wish that the heart makes… the only thing this child wants is the love of his parents.”
We’re now immediately able to look in on Lupita, who is also fast asleep — but on a shabby cot in a very drab, single-room house. It’s even more clear now just how poor her family is. And right on cue… here comes nasty ol’ Pitch. Confounded Devil! Why can’t he leave Lupita alone!?
Lupita is dreaming of her very own doll. And honestly, this is just more nightmare fuel even though it’s not intended to be. She’s surrounded by giant gift boxes, and when they open, life-size dolls emerge and dance around the little girl (who, in my opinion, looks absolutely traumatized, and I think the poor actress probably had nightmares for years about this) for like two minutes straight. This is another spot where they really could have edited the scene down a bit.
Then Pitch, speaking through the dolls, tries once more to plant evil seeds in Lupita’s mind. The dolls badger Lupita. “Why don’t you steal, then we could all be yours!” But Lupita resists, telling them that stealing is bad and she wants to be good. But they are persistent. “But you must learn to steal! We dolls don’t like good little girls. You must be evil if you want a doll!”
And Lupita continues to withstand, firmly telling them that to steal is evil and she doesn’t want to be evil. With that, Pitch has failed, and the little girl mercifully wakes up.
Now that Santa has apprised himself of the “good” children’s situations, he finally turns his attention to the bad little boys to see what mischief they are planning. They talk about stealing toys, they insult Santa Claus, and then set out to write him a big long BS letter about how good they’ve been this year.
Meanwhile, other little children are also writing letters to Santa. What are they wishing for, I wonder?
The little rich boy: “My dear Santa Claus, the only thing that I wish for is that my parents can stay with me the night before Christmas. I don’t like to be alone.”
A boy who has four sisters: “The most important thing is that you bring me a little brother who is just about my age, because I get awfully bored.”
A boy in an orphanage: “I know it’s hard for you, but maybe you could get me a papa. That would be super. Or just even a mama.” (I couldn’t even write that without my eyes burning.)
After Santa sorts through some of the letters, he begins preparing for his Christmas Eve voyage to Earth. And now we are introduced to a rather odd helper who is busily preparing magic potions for Santa… Merlin!
It’s an interesting cross-over choice for a Mexican Christmas film, but I’m not mad about it. Merlin is an absent-minded bumbler and is extremely deaf, but he provides Santa with some pretty cool magic creations: Sleeping powder, dreaming powder that fills everyone with joy and good will, and a flower that makes him disappear.
Santa also visits his special key maker, who provides him with a key that opens all doors. And finally, his international group of pint-size helpers prepare the sleigh for his Christmas ride.
Seeing the reindeer, we’re once again reminded that it’s 1959. Santa’s sleigh is really a giant toy sleigh (with only four reindeer, I might add), and he has to wind up the reindeer to make it go. And they are creeeeeeeepy — especially when one of them starts laughing! (I’m telling you, nightmare fuel all over the place in 1959!)
Be off, my reindeer, and glide through the heavens as fast as you can go! May my palace of gold and crystal enjoy peace, and Jesus the Son of God join us on Earth so that we can all have joy and good will.
M-hmm, more brownie points from me, film!
While Santa makes his way down to Earth, we get to look in on our three main children. First is the little rich boy. He’s in bed, and his parents are dressed up and ready to go out for the evening. “Think of all the nice things you’ll get from Santa Claus,” his mother says as she kisses him goodbye. “If you get bored, you can go down and practice your piano lessons.” His father tells him they’ll see him in the morning, and suddenly, the poor little rich boy is all alone on Christmas Eve.
Next, we see the three little bullies, huddled together on a roof, plotting to set a trap for Santa. The Devil is nearby, and they are certainly up to no good.
“As soon as Santa Claus lands on the roof, all three of us will jump on him. We’ll tie him up, stick him in a sack, and then we’ll go home with all of Santa’s toys. We can make him our slave and all his candies and toys will belong to us.”
Meanwhile, at Lupita’s house, her mother is explaining to her who Santa Claus is. Lupita asks why Santa comes and her mother tells her that he comes to give toys to children who are obedient. To which poor Lupita replies, “I don’t think he likes me. He has never brought me any dollies.”
Her mother is taken aback and doesn’t know what to say. So she suggests that perhaps Lupita forgot to ask him for any dollies. “And if I ask him for one now?” Fighting back tears, she tells Lupita to go ahead and ask, and maybe he will hear her. They can say a prayer. The little girl implores her mother not to cry, and she explains that Christmas always makes her sad. It brings back memories. “What is Christmas good for?” The child asks her mother.
Mother: “Well, to remind us that Christ was born many years ago, and He was even poorer than we are. He was born in a bed of straw.”
Lupita: “Know what, mama? I already asked Santa Claus for two pretty dollies. If he brings the two, I will give one to little Jesus.”
Geez, it must be dusty in here. It’s getting in my eyes.
Pitch is waiting for Santa at his first stop, in Mexico City. The mischief-making devil attempts to trip up old Kris Kringle, but Santa is wise to his tricks. We enjoy a fun little scene where the two try to outsmart each other, that ends with Santa setting off a toy cannon, and shooting a sharp projectile into Pitch’s behind!
Back at the little rich boy’s home, all is dark and quiet as he descends the grand staircase.
Here in truth, is a poor little rich boy. He has all the toys a little boy could wish for, yet, he is sad and lonely. Lonely for his parents. In spite of all he has, he lacks the most important thing in life: The company of his mother and father.
After plunking out a few notes on the piano, he curls up in a chair beside the fireplace and falls asleep. Santa arrives and blows the sleeping boy a quick kiss before placing gifts under the tree.
“I know all those toys don’t make you happy. But I’ll do something for you that I only do for children who are very good. I will let you see me as I am. And therefore I will use the powders that will make you dream that you are awake. And now, awaken while you’re dreaming.”
The little boy is overjoyed, and throws himself at the jolly gentleman’s feet, clinging to his leg desperately.
“Santa Claus, you love me, don’t you? Say you love me, Santa!”
Santa: “Of course I love you, sonny. Just as much as your parents. Because no one loves a child as much as his parents. Only at times, the parents don’t understand their children, and the children don’t understand their parents.”
Boy: “And are you really sure that they love me? When I’m left all alone?”
Santa: “Yes, of course they love you. And you must believe they love you. And now, go back to sleep again. When you awaken, I wish you much happiness.”
Santa leaves, but we’re about to learn that he hasn’t gone far. The story of the rich boy isn’t over yet. The scene shifts to a fancy restaurant, where the boy’s parents are sitting and greeting friends with Christmas wishes.
Suddenly, an unseen-by-us waiter walks over carrying a tray with two smoking glasses. “That’s a strange cocktail, isn’t it?” the boy’s mother says. We can’t see him, but his voice is unmistakable. He says,
It’s the cocktail of remembrance which only I can prepare. Whoever drinks it will think of that which is most dear, and which at times for some unknown reason we seem to forget.
“That’s a beautiful thought,” she says, “Perhaps we need a reminder. Very possibly, we’ve forgotten someone that we love.”
Love can be expressed in many ways, but the truest love is that which we give without expecting anything in return. The greatest reward for those who love sincerely is love itself. So drink my cocktail and you will become aware of that love which is closest to your hearts.
After sipping the cocktail, the couple looks up… the waiter has vanished. The mother mentions the waiter’s white beard, and the fact that his face seemed familiar to her, as if she’d known it when she was a child.
Suddenly, they both have the urge to see their little boy. “Let’s go home. Poor Billy’s always alone. I feel that he’s needing us too. He’ll be so glad.”
Santa is watching at the window when the little rich boy’s parents return home. He’s still asleep in the chair, and when they wake him, the shared happiness is palpable right through the screen. ♥
Now, let’s not forget about old Pitch, who, it turns out, is still working alongside the bad little boys, encouraging them in their scheme to trap Santa. As the narrator warns though…. they’re going to be sorry for listening to the Devil.
Santa puts one over on them all, fouling up their plans. Pitch leaves in a huff, angry that once again he’s been unsuccessful at taking down his nemesis of good. While the boys still somehow think that maybe Santa left them something good for Christmas. But what they got was lumps of coal in their shoes!
The Devil is shrewd, and seeing an opportunity to do more evil, he returns and instigates a fight between the boys. He leaves them angrily rolling around on the ground, supremely proud of himself for at least doing something that Lucifer will be proud of.
Spying Santa slip down a chimney, Pitch decides to give it another go. His attempt to steal the sleigh fails, but he does succeed in draining Santa’s pouch filled with Merlin’s magic powders, and with it goes the magic flower that allows Santa to turn invisible!
This time Pitch’s evil deeds seem to be coming to fruition. Without his magical aids, Santa soon finds himself trapped up a tree after Pitch sics a dog on him. It’s getting close to sun rise, and if Santa doesn’t return to his castle before then, the reindeer will turn into dust, and he’ll be trapped on the Earth.
“You’ll pay for your mischief! You just wait and see!” But Pitch taunts Santa more. “I’m gonna wake up everybody!” Pitch quips. Santa scoffs at this, reminding Pitch that no one can hear his voice. But Pitch counters: “They hear it in the form of their own private imagination or ideas. Let them see how foolish you appear!”
The Devil makes his way around to a few of the neighbours, whispering in their sleeping ears about what danger they’re in, from a murderer no less. And as he said, their imaginations do the rest. Soon a small mob has formed and they’re on their way outside where Santa will surely be discovered.
And Pitch is working double duty — once he’s riled up the neighbourhood, he pays one final visit to poor Lupita, tormenting her as she sleeps.
“Don’t expect anything from Santa Claus. He doesn’t bring toys to poor children. Didn’t I tell you to keep that doll? Silly. So now you won’t have anything. You are poor!”
The little girl wakes and immediately questions her mother, asking if it’s true that Santa doesn’t bring gifts to poor people. Daylight is starting to break, and Lupita sadly notes that Santa hasn’t come.
Meanwhile, Santa is desperate and has been yelling into the ether for Merlin. Thankfully, little Pedro finally hears him, and alerts Merlin that Santa is in trouble. As they make their way to the Observatory, we see the effects of Pitch’s interference. The whole neighbourhood is awake! They have guns, and here come firetrucks and the police. The dog is barking, there’s turmoil everywhere, and poor Santa Claus is still stuck up the tree, with the sun about to rise! Pitch is gloating hard.
But Merlin comes through in a pinch, and tells Santa to use a toy cat and distract the dog. When the dog takes off down the street after it, Santa makes his escape, leaving the townspeople to wonder what the fuss was all about. But before he makes haste in returning to his castle, Santa has one final friend to visit…
We watch as the lost magical flower floats right into Lupita’s house, and then we catch a glimpse of Santa’s ladder by the window just as her father is returning home. He’s frustrated that he was unable to find work. Suddenly, Lupita wakes up and we realize that Santa has been there, invisible, talking to her while she slept.
Lupita: “Mama, I told Santa Claus I am very happy again. He couldn’t stay and talk to me for a very long time because his white reindeer would turn into powder. Was I just dreaming, mama, dreaming that he left me a dolly outside in the patio?”
Mother: “Maybe next Christmas. Not this one.”
Lupita: “But he said it was a beautiful dolly.”
And she hurries outside… where a doll as big as she is sits in next to the bushes.
Her mother, face filled with grateful serenity, looks heavenward and makes the sign of the cross. And now I’m on the verge of literally choking, I’m crying so hard.
And so once again, Santa returns to his palace from his yearly Christmas round. He is happy, gay, for once again he has brought joy to the children of the world.
The film closes out with a very poignant title card and narrator voice-over that includes a rendering of Matthew 5:8.
This is NOT implying that Santa Claus is God. No. But if you really think about, isn’t Santa Claus just a sort of proxy for Jesus? I love that this film clearly makes the distinction that Santa Claus is NOT Jesus though, the same way that Serling did in “The Gift“. Even though the alien is clearly a Jesus-like stand-in, and there is much Jesus-like imagery surrounding him, the script makes certain that we know he’s NOT Jesus. We’re just meant to be reminded of Jesus so that we understand the message that’s being delivered.
Let’s circle back for a moment to what I said at the beginning about taste being subjective. At the 1959 San Francisco International Film Festival, “Santa vs the Devil” was the winner of the Golden Gate Award for Best International Family Film — a distinction that was more than deserved.
But this same film also ranked in at #80 on IMDb’s ridiculous “100 Worst Movies Of All Time” list, which honestly makes me furious.
Today, the film industry is trending towards bigger and more impressive visuals, but they’re coming at the expense of the substance of the film. It seems that the more they have going on visually, the more the story suffers. And that’s a real shame. It’s lazy. It’s unimaginative. And most importantly, it’s worthless. Yet cinema is only reacting to what the people want. And what the people today DON’T seem to want is a message.
“Santa Claus vs the Devil”, much like 1957’s “The Story of Mankind”, is a movie that’s not just about theatrics. The story was carefully crafted so that the viewer would walk away thinking. Yes, of course, there’s some theatrics, and they’re cheesy by today’s modern standards, but for one thing… have some perspective. The film is 60 years old! If you lived 60 years ago, this would have been a visual delight. The automaton Santa in the department store window, the automaton reindeer… in 1959, this was a huge deal. And people loved it. So it’s not fair or even logical to criticize something like this because it’s out of your time.
And all that leaves us with is the story and the message. 60 years ago, it was not at all uncommon for movies and television shows to really make an effort to work lessons of morality into their stories. Good vs Evil was the common theme (with Good always triumphing, by the way) whether you were watching “Leave it To Beaver”, “Bonanza“, “The Rifleman”, “Rin Tin Tin”, “Twilight Zone” or “Santa vs the Devil”. Entertainment wasn’t just about having a good time. It was about learning while you watched. Because movie/television makers realized that they had a responsibility. A responsibility to use their reach to not just entertain people, but to encourage them to behave better as human beings.
In this film, what did we learn? Because this film is not about Santa Claus. Or the Devil. The film is about why it’s important that we maintain self-awareness, that we not unintentionally hurt those that we love the most. The little rich boy’s parents DID love him. But they weren’t thinking about what love really means. Love is not about buying material things for someone. Love is about treating someone else the way you would like to be treated, and putting their needs above your own desires.
We also learned that people struggle with many, many things. And just because another person isn’t dealing with the same struggles you are, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t still struggling. The little rich boy and Lupita come from polar opposite physical situations…. and yet they are actually both very poor, just in a different way. Does the fact that poor Lupita has no material comforts, toys or money somehow invalidate that the poor little rich boy is lonely for human companionship and love? Do they both not have a right to be sad? Do they both not deserve compassion and sympathy?
And perhaps the most important lesson in this film… the Devil roams around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour…. BUT when he whispers in our ear, are we going to listen?
Lupita, even in the face of extreme poverty, still knew that it was wrong to steal. You steal because someone else has something you want. But the very act of stealing means that you are deliberately dragging that person into the very same situation that YOU are in, which is driving you to want to steal in the first place. If you have nothing, it’s not right to take from someone else, so that now they have nothing. And Lupita, even as a small child, has been taught this, and she understands it. We know she understands it because when the Devil tempts her, she resists. Those other boys, they didn’t care about anyone except themselves. The Devil knocked, and they were only too happy to throw open the door.
Every day, I see people leaning more and more in the direction that God doesn’t matter, and Christianity is garbage, and Christians are just worthless, judgemental wastes of space. Well… you are entitled to hold that opinion if you want to. But you have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. I don’t care what millionaire TV evangelists are spouting from the pulpit. I don’t care what trolls, using the name of “God” claim is what the Bible says. And quite frankly, I don’t care what you THINK. Before you form a ride-or-die opinion about Christianity, I’d suggest that you put in the time and effort to research it for yourself. I’m not talking about reading a book that some entitled “scholar” wrote about his opinions. I mean pick up a Bible and read it from the proper side of wisdom (two sides, remember?). You can read that Bible from cover to cover, a thousand times over, and STILL NOT UNDERSTAND A SINGLE WORD IN IT.
The natural came first that the spiritual be revealed, but it’s the spiritual understanding of the book that’s important if you want to learn anything. God is Truth and Love. In the absence of Truth and Love, nothing can be created. And Jesus is Truth and Love made visible in mortal bodily form. Jesus is the Son of God, “Son” meaning “form”. A physical body where a mind and heart dwell. Jesus isn’t God’s offspring, and He’s not the product of egg or sperm. He’s not Mary’s son, as in, He was made from her egg. She was found to be with child — no one had sex with her. She was a vessel through which God Himself came forth in the natural way.
Jesus is God Himself, the immortal God, making Himself mortal that He might walk with us and die, just as we die in the flesh, so that we might learn and be saved. Learn… learn WHAT? Well, let me put it to you this way. God Himself, the creator of all that is and all that was, cared enough for His creation that He took off His immortality for a time, that He could SHOW us what love is. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” God, allowing Himself to be murdered in one of the most brutal, grotesque, painful and disrespectful ways… to show us that He loved us. So that after HE made the sacrifice, all we have to do is acknowledge Him and love one another as He loves us. That’s IT, guys! That’s the “laws” of Christianity! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard non-believers go on these ridiculous rampages about how Christianity has too many rules, too many regulations, how we’re all so oppressed. Give me a BREAK. God couldn’t have made this any easier for us. Love God, love your neighbour as yourself. The end.
Why do bad things happen? Is it God’s fault? Why doesn’t He DO something to stop suffering? (Oh, you mean like making Himself mortal and suffering indescribably in the hopes that we would learn something and stop treating each other like worthless garbage…?) Why were poor little Lupita and her family left in squalor while the poor little rich boy’s father was so wealthy? You want to know who is to blame when bad things happen to good people?
Look around you. Look in a mirror.
WE are the ones to blame, not God. He already showed us what to do and what not to do. He already made the ultimate sacrifice. It is WE who hurt each other. It is WE who refuse to help one another and love in spite of everything. Before you start pounding about what an a**hole God is, ask yourself what YOU have done lately. For ANYone, and without expecting something back. If you’re so concerned about the poor people of the world, then DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. YOU. Right now. Go and give money to Lupita’s family. Give the homeless man you pass every night on the street a home to live in. It is WE who create our own messes. It is WE who take everything good that the Lord has done for us and turned up our noses at it and walked away. You want to live in a world without Christ? Good f***ing luck. Because if it wasn’t for Truth and Love, if it wasn’t for Jesus and His sacrifice, then the first person who was an a**hole to me would quickly find himself without a tongue. Because I’d just cut it out of his worthless head.
But see… that’s the Devil in me who even makes me WANT to do that. Like little Lupita, the Devil is always close by, poking and prodding. And it’s the Devil in others too. Oh, you think the Devil doesn’t live in you? Falsehood and Hatred? The Devil speaks to ALL of us. As does the Lord. But it’s up to us to choose who we’re going to listen to. Like the story of the two wolves doing battle — the one you feed is the one who wins.
It’s awful illogical that my supposedly imaginary God is constantly held responsible for all the sufferings and atrocities of life, don’t cha think?
So if you take nothing else away from this silly old film about Santa Claus and the Devil, and my “civil and moral rage” (a commenter on a previous post used that phrase to describe my writing and I kind of loved it), then let it be this: Remember Lupita. Her parents. Remember the little rich boy. Remember the boy in the orphanage. We ALL have struggles in this life. But… Jesus is always watching. And the righteous will NEVER be dragged down with the wicked. Ever. You CAN tell the Devil to bugger off, just like Lupita did. He’s going to keep coming back, yes. Yes, he will. Until the day you die. It is a struggle, a constant struggle. And it’s not going to be easy. But just as Lupita was rewarded in the end for standing firm and doing the right thing, so we will be too.
This life is not our home, we work for a reward in the next life. Resist the Devil and he will flee. The Lord is never silent, and we are never alone. Listen. Like the film said, blessed are those who believe, for they shall see God. Have faith. Faith is putting into practice what you believe. It’s an action. God isn’t our b*tch. He’s not here to do our bidding, to dance for us, or to clean up the messes we ourselves make. He already did the dirty work for us. He died on the cross. And all He asked in return is that we believe. Jesus is Lord. Love one another. No matter what. Don’t point at other people’s sin — we are all sinners. No one is better than another. Point at Jesus — Truth and Love. And let other people answer for themselves. You answer for YOU and what YOU do, and how you treat other people in spite of how they treat you.
Be meek and humble. And love others enough to tell them the Truth. That Jesus IS the Truth.