I remember hearing a certain song being played on the radio fairly frequently some years back, during the Christmas season. It never failed to cause a big lump in my throat and to make me choke back some tears. According to the website wideopencountry.com, it was written by Eddie Carswell and Leonard Ahlstrom of a group called NewSong and was released in 2000. I believe the version I heard over and over was sung by Bob Carlisle.
“The Christmas Shoes” song was soon turned into a book. Then in 2002 it became a CBS movie later aired by other networks, including Hallmark. But according to the above mentioned website, it all started with a story that circulated on the internet. The story centered around a little boy who was attempting to buy some shoes as a special gift for his dying mother but was short some money.
The Christmas Shoes movie opens with the main character, played by Rob Lowe, in a cemetery. Then it flashes back into what happened some years earlier. There are no award-winning performances or fancy technical effects, nor is the plot complicated. The story does, however, intertwine the circumstances of two different families—one loving family with a mom dying and the other a family with a dad who has lost sight of the importance of family while looking for prestige.
Although this simple movie may never win any Academy Awards, it is a rather moving story. Kimberly Williams-Paisley does give a very convincing performance as the dying mom. If you watch it, you should definitely have a box of tissue handy. From hearing the song, I had always pictured the little boy as being a little younger than the boy in the movie. Perhaps it’s best he wasn’t younger. It may have turned a two-tissue movie into a three-tissue movie. I noted that the movie showed that the kindness of friends and neighbors can make life a little easier in the difficult times. The story ends with returning to the main character being in the cemetery—and a little surprise twist.
Are there some things that I believe could have made the movie a little better? I think the flashback to about 15 years earlier would have been clearer if they had sprinkled a few gray strands in the main character’s hair before the flashback and at the end. For me, this movie would have carried more meaning if the mom had given a clear indication of faith throughout the movie, which would have supported her expectation of going to Heaven. Although the dad in the other family did come to his senses through the boy losing his mother and did ask for his wife’s forgiveness, he could have asked for God’s forgiveness as well. The reason Jesus was born into the world was to give His life so that those who believe in Him can ask God’s forgiveness and have the promise of going to Heaven someday.
The cover of the DVD shows a quote from the LA Times saying, “The Christmas Shoes finds humor in an emotional story.” In my recollection there were a few moments of subtle humor, but I think that statement is a little misleading. If you watch it, you can see if you agree with me. As a matter of fact, I think trying to put a lot of humor into this story would have been inappropriate. Perhaps you have already seen this movie. If you haven’t, maybe you should curl up with a cup of cocoa and a box of tissue and let it touch your heart. It can motivate you to appreciate the promise of Heaven for those who believe, to focus on the importance of relationships above prestige, and to be kind to those going through the hard times of life. Below is a trailer to give you a little taste of the movie.
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