With catchy jingles directing you to the next blockbuster sale and slogans promising to make the season extra special, it’s getting increasingly harder to look past the glitter and discover the true meaning of Christmas.
“Essentially from the moment Halloween ends, we are given a message that purchasing the right things will give us Christmas, that we will feel complete, that we will feel whole,” says Nate Searle, who has spent the past year contemplating exactly what’s important to him as the festive season rolls around.
“Hundreds of years show us that buying things really isn’t that meaningful yet we continue to do it hoping for something different.”
Challenged by his father-in-law Steve Robinson to turn that inward reflection into a theatrical production, Searle cobbled his thoughts on consumerism and carols into This Isn’t Christmas, a 75-minute long multimedia voyage that challenges what the season is about. It features seven principal roles actors and 17 children.
“It’s not a typical church play, not a typical theatre production. It’s meant to provoke thought and a little bit of discomfort in the way that we are living and acting unconsciously and habitually,” he says.
As the Christmas season drew closer, Searle couldn’t help but notice the messages around him. There’s Starbucks with its pitch “It’s not the holiday without our drinks” or Target assuring it has everything to meet your holiday needs.
This Isn’t Christmas takes you on a journey while poking fun at all the Christmas tradition both within the church and outside it, says Searle.
“It is written so these things touch us in our own lives and makes us think of what’s going on so that this year we are a little bit more critical.”
With his wife Sara helping with marketing and his father-in-law, dad and sons acting in the production, Searle just hasn’t had the time to get swept up in the craziness of Christmas – the shopping, the decorating, the school plays.
“In creating the message in the play, we’ve been consumed by it,” says Searle with no regrets.
“We’ve done nothing towards Christmas. We did decorate our own home but only because we needed it as a set for filming. So we are kind of stuck at this point.”
Instead the Searles and the cast of This Isn’t Christmas have committed to doing the things that matter – such as spending time with family, volunteering or raising money for a good cause – year-round.
“It’s taken us a year but our goal is that as a result of this production people will have a meaningful Christmas and a thoughtful New Year, as opposed to just a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,” he says.
“I’m hoping that as a group of people we would question what we are doing at Christmas and as group of critical thinkers, come out on the far side with a little bit more of a purposeful Christmas.”
Burnett Fellowship Church presents This Isn’t Christmas Dec. 1, 5, 6, and 8 at 7:30 p.m. and a matinee Dec. 8 at 3 p.m. There will be free child care at Friday’s performance.
Tickets are $10 and include desserts served during intermission. Tickets are available at the church, 20639 123rd Avenue in Maple Ridge or www.thisisntchristmas.com or call 604 465-4418.