The Family Man, starring Nicholas Cage, is a great Christmas movie, and I watched it last night. Nick’s character makes a choice at the beginning of the movie and, more than a decade later, is a very wealthy man. There’s a message from his old girlfriend, Kate, but he does not call her at that point. After a brush with fate, the next morning there’s a change in his life: He’s with Kate, two kids, little money, and he’s got to figure out what is important to him.
When he finally realizes what is important, he wakes up having never been married, and meets up with Kate—who is going to be flying to Paris and wants to give him back his old stuff. Back in his penthouse, he sifts through a box of memories. He goes to the airport to try to stop her and convince her about the life they would have had if only he’d made a different choice. If you have not seen the movie, I do not believe I totally spoiled it for you, but if I did, I am sorry. I wanted to capture the basics of the movie, but you will have to watch it to get the essence of the movie.
It’s Christmas time, and every year at this time, we are scrounging around to get the best gifts for our families or friends. The stores are packed, the after-Christmas sales will be going on very soon, people will be returning gifts to get what they really want, and the attitudes of people are not always joyous. If you do not need to be out shopping, then don’t. Each year, the shopping comes earlier and earlier, more sales, etc. I also think that each year, the meaning of Christmas—the birth of Jesus, being around family, friends, sharing love, kindness, helping others, and spreading cheer—diminishes. This is my opinion.
We each have a choice to make. Yes, I have fallen into making sure that my family and friends get the “best gift,” and feel so ragged that it can be hard to be joyous. Having a kid changes your perceptions on what is important and what is not.
With my almost 2-year-old son, I am reminded that it is not about the quantity of gifts that I give or receive but rather the quality of the time I spend with my family and friends. Whether it’s baking homemade peppermint patties (York need not worry about going out of business), decorating cookies, reading about the birth of Jesus, or watching holiday movies, it’s what I am doing with family and friends that counts. It’s watching my son’s face light up when we play with Legos together, or crash his trains and get the toy ambulance to come and help the trains get all bandaged up. The quality time I have with my husband is very important as well—how I do my part to strengthen the relationship (not talking about sex), the unity that we have, and help each other stay focused and not get lost in the emptiness that can come with giving a gift because it’s on sale.
Almost all Christmas movies are about being with the ones you love, spreading joy and cheer, laughing, playing, creating memories, etc. Many are also about people who are trying to get ahead and how empty they may feel because they are not connected to their friends or family. It’s like a wake-up call, and it happened to Nick in The Family Man.
This is your wake-up call. Remember: Each day, not just at Christmas time, tell your friends and family how much you love them, and play with your children and friends’ kids when you visit them. Allow the children to help you relive your childhood memories, and after Christmas, keep spreading that joy all year long.
Watch The Family Man. It might remind you of what is really important and help you find balance in your life.
© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Kelly Sanders, MFT, therapist in Rancho Cucamonga, California
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.