After its underwhelming prequels (Episodes 1-3), Star Wars seemingly came back to life with Episode 7 in 2015. But the most notable rise for Star Wars (more notable even than 2019’s Rise of Skywalker) was in 1980. That’s the year Empire Strikes Back was released. In my opinion, Empire Strikes Back in 1980 followed the lowest low in Star Wars history (yes, even lower than Jar Jar Binks). For in 1978, CBS broadcast the made-for-TV Star Wars Holiday Special. If you’ve never seen it, then be thankful. The Star Wars Holiday Special was so spectacularly bad that it has been called “one of TV’s most embarrassing failures.”
The plot of the Star Wars Holiday Special involves Han Solo making good on his promise to get Chewbacca back to his family for a holiday. By the end of the movie, Han gets Chewie back to his home planet, but only after the audience has had to suffer through some seriously creepy scenes. There are holographic acrobats, bar-room dances, psychedelic musical numbers, and an almost 4-minute cooking show by a cross-dressing, four-armed chef.
Even with a million-dollar budget, the movie failed. Why? It’s because they tried to cram too much into it. They tried to fit together a Star Wars movie, an animated feature, a musical, and a variety show. The result was a mess.
“Even with a million-dollar budget, the movie failed. Why? It’s because they tried to cram too much into it.”
In the same way, it is possible to cram too much into the holiday season in order to make it a success. Have you ever been there? When you try to fit too much into making Christmas everything you and everyone else thinks it should be, the result can be similar to the Star Wars Holiday Special: a circus seemingly directed by a drunk ringmaster. The chaos and stress of the Christmas season can contrast depressingly with what is supposed to be a serene season of peace and joy.
The holiday season can be a hectic mess: a time to shop, a time to travel, a time to reconnect, a time to get caught up, a time to unwind. Plus, each Sunday you’re reminded that it’s, above all, a time to remember the “reason for the season,” a Baby born for our redemption.
Into the chaos of Christmastime, I have a short word that I think will help bring you simplicity.
“Into the chaos of Christmastime, I have a short word that I think will help bring you simplicity.”
One of the words you will run into a lot this Christmas will be the word for. You will constantly be asking, “What should we buy for Uncle so-and-so?” “Have we gotten anything for your brother yet?” But for is not the word that will simplify your Christmas.
Another word you will use a lot is to. “Are we going to Grandma’s this Christmas?” “Should we go to the Christmas program?” But to is not the word that will refocus your Christmas.
Another word that will come up is on. On Christmas Day, someone might ask, “What’s on Disney+ today?” “What music should we put on Pandora?” Yet again, on isn’t the word you need this Christmas.
Here’s the word that will simplify and refocus your Christmas. It will tame the circus and infuse peace into your celebration. It’s the word with.
“With is the point of Christmas.”
With is the point of Christmas. Gabriel came to Mary and said, “The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28). He went on to tell her that she would be with child. The Child would be Immanuel, which means literally “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). And that’s why each Christmas we get together with family and friends as we are able. And it’s because God came to be with us, that we are able to go and be with Him after death.
So, amidst the chaos you know is coming, I offer you a word of peace and joy: with. Merry Christmas!