Movie review: This Christmas

Graphic shows a festive scene with a young person at a table eating, a Christmas tree behind them and This Christmas playing on the TV screen

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Hi, I’m Soraya. I’m 17 years old and a student aspiring to do Law and Spanish next year. I am extremely passionate about mental health, and love using my own writing to raise awareness for this. I have done all sorts of volunteering for The Mix and really enjoy getting involved, but my main role is as a GenNOW Ambassador. 

This Christmas 

As someone who comes from a mixed background, Christmas has never served as a religious holiday to me and my family, but instead as a time to come together, and spend time with people close to us. Whilst to most Christians this is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the meaning of Christmas seems to differ between different people, depending on their own beliefs and cultures.  

How Christmas changes over time 

I recently watched the movie This Christmas, on streaming service NOW, which seemed to reflect these ideas throughout. The movie centres on the Whitfield family, whose eldest has come home for the first time in 4 years. Despite various problems within the family that are revealed as the film goes on, they are all able to gather together on Christmas Eve to spend time with one another. It got me thinking about how Christmas will slowly change in meaning for me over time.  

As a child, I had the same ideas about it as any other 6-year-old would; Christmas was a time for presents, beautifully decorated trees that seemed about 7ft tall, and bright lights in every window I saw. I can’t say it has that same spark for me anymore, especially considering the amount of revision I have to look forward to over the next few weeks to prepare for my A Level mocks. However, I think I can speak for most people when I say that last Christmas didn’t exactly go as planned, and I have missed sitting around a table with my closest friends and family, playing Just Dance until 4am and watching my friends faces light up as they open their gifts. 

How our different cultures and belief affect how we celebrate Christmas 

One aspect of the film that really stood out to me was the idea of such a large family still finding a way to be together. Coming from a multicultural background, it can be hard not being able to celebrate this time of year with some of my closest family, as my dad’s side of the family are Muslim and most of my mum’s side live in Spain. For me, there are no relatives filling their cars with presents and driving from miles away to be able to spend the holidays together.  

That’s not to say my celebrations are depressing, but it’s not exactly the image that’s played out in this movie, and many other Christmas movies for that matter. I think it’s important for us to recognise that each and everyone has a different way of celebrating Christmas, and that many don’t celebrate it at all. Personally, every year since I was little, except for last year, which was not quite as eventful, my closest family friends have come round on Christmas Eve. The adults all spend the evening sitting around the table, laughing at old stories from when they were younger and eating some smelly cheeses, whilst my friends and I spend most of the night on the Wii. Christmas Day itself is a little less exciting and consists of lazing around all day, watching Christmas films and eating leftovers from the night before.  

Conflict at Christmas 

It was definitely refreshing watching a Christmas movie that doesn’t sugarcoat the conflicts and issues that can arise at such a busy time of year. Throughout the film, there are multiple scenes of sibling rivalries and fights within the family, and I think it’s safe to say that everyone fights with their family, and Christmas is no exception. Although This Christmas has all the corny aspects of any Christmas film, the family interaction feels a lot more genuine at some points, and I was able to see glimpses of my own family throughout all the scenes full of bickering between the siblings and some of the sarcastic comments they throw at one another. It was still heartwarming to see that no matter the issues that arose between them, they were still a close-knit family and they didn’t let it get in the way of what the holidays are all about.  

Everyone celebrates Christmas in their own unique way! 

Often when I tell people my holiday plans, they’re a little surprised that it’s a bit more low-key than the typical idea of Christmas; most of them go to visit family outside London, or attend Church, and a lot of them don’t do anything at all. We should all be aware that there is no one right way to celebrate or perceive Christmas, even if it doesn’t quite fit the picture you’re used to. Maybe you might not like Christmas and cringe every time someone walks past you in a Santa hat, or you might have put your tree up in September as soon as the weather began to get a little chillier, or maybe Christmas is just like any other day to you, and you just appreciate the day off. Either way, we should all be mindful that everyone’s own beliefs and cultures influence their own opinions about Christmas, and that the meaning of this time of year is different for each and every one of us.

Read Didi’s article about what Christmas means to her.

If you’re feeling lonely this Christmas, take a look at our article for support and advice.

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Updated on 17-Dec-2021

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