Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas


Study Guide
     Some Ideas for Discussion
Advance Preparation
Script: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Study Guide


For many people, the celebration of Christmas has become an ordeal rather than a joy. The pressure to spend ever more money on gifts, decorations, food and entertainment has turned this holy day into a field day for retailers. Even those who would like to reclaim Christmas as a family-centered celebration of Christ 's birth find it difficult to resist the massive pull of advertising, social expectations and family customs.
The purpose of this film is to challenge the commercialization of Christmas, to encourage people to reflect on their own celebrations, and to support efforts to make Christmas celebrations less consumer-oriented and more meaningful.
The consequences of changing Christmas celebrations go far beyond just making Christmas a more meaningful occasion, however. What if even a small portion of the $20 billion spent each Christmas on gifts, decoration's and trappings went to people who really needed it? What if changing patterns of celebration at Christmas opened the way for living more simple, less consumer-oriented lifestyles during the rest of the year as well? What if Christmas became a time to truly commit oneself to continuing the work of Christ?
"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" will help you to explore these issues in a lucid, non-judgmental fashion.

Some Ideas for Discussion

As discussion leader, you will probably find that people are eager to share both their positive and negative experiences of Christmas. To introduce the film, you might ask how many people would like to change something about the way they celebrate Christmas. Have each person write down the thing they like best about Christmas and the thing they would most like to change. Invite people to share their responses briefly. Present the film as a challenge to extravagant, consumer oriented celebration, and an exploration of some alternatives.
After the video is over, form small groups of three to six persons to discuss the following issues for 15 to 20 minutes:
  1. What kinds of activities seem like meaningful ways to celebrate the birth of Christ?
  2. How are our gift-giving practices and other celebration customs influenced by advertising and commercialism?
  3. What are some ways to counteract the influence of commercialism?
  4. What are some ways to present the possibility of changing Christmas giving practices to family and friends?
  5. What are some good "birthday gifts" for Jesus?
Have each group select one or two of the key issues they have discussed for presentation to the larger group. Invite members of the larger group to respond.
Your job in guiding the discussion will be to keep the focus on the problem of commercialization and ideas for alternative forms of Christmas celebration. Remember that Christmas celebration is a sensitive topic for many people. Avoid making the assumption that everyone wants a less commercialized, "alternative" Christmas. Some people may like it just the way it is. However, the goal of the discussion is to make people think about the importance of how we celebrate and to encourage them to feel a sense of control about celebrations despite the pressure exerted by "popular" culture.

Advance Preparation

  1. Watch the video yourself before you show it to a group. Study the script as you go. Check out your equipment before the showing.
  2. Check the lighting and placement of the screen. Will your audience be able to see well? Some darkening of windows or arrangement of your screen may be necessary if the filmstrip is shown during the day. If the light switches are very far from you, assign someone to turn them off and on for you.
  3. There are a few seconds of silence at the beginning. Before your showing, check to be sure that the volume control is turned up adequately.
  4. If it is possible to plug into an auxiliary sound system, it should enhance the sound and make the narrative portions more intelligible.

1980s videos from Simple Living Works! 6:51 & 10:44 minutes

Used by permission of ALTERNATIVES for Simple Living.
"Equipping people of faith to challenge consumerism, live justly and celebrate responsibly" Resources for responsible living since 1973. Used under Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial license

Christmas tree image: Nanin7, Wikimedia Commons, used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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