The Greatest Gift Ever Given
Paul Hanson, a struggling electrical engineer, reluctantly agrees to have a last minute business meeting on Christmas Eve. He assures his family he will be home for the Christmas Extravaganza later that night, but he finds himself running into numerous obstacles to make it to the meeting on time and back home to be with his family. Now struggling and angry, Paul wastes no time at all to blame God for all of the current mishaps of the day. God shares truth through the people he has encountered along his journey. Paul has a change of heart and sees God come through in miraculous ways, even in the midst of all the obstacles. With just minutes left, Paul’s airline informs him that they have a seat for him on the next flight out. Paul finds himself with a better worldview than he started that day and is able to make it home to be with his family and celebrate the Greatest Gift Ever Given.
With Christmas as a cheerful, generous background, we quickly learn through The Greatest Gift Ever Given that people complain a lot, overlooking so many blessings, and that everything happens for a reason.
The plot revolves around Paul Hanson, a married father of two boys who is away from home on Christmas Eve, having been involved in an out-of-state assignment as a building constructor. However, the supervisor of the project, a man named Morgan, tells Paul that due to some recent budget cuts he will have to pay him less for the job than he originally planned. This happens after Paul shows up late, having battled with congested traffic to get there, not to mention a homeless man who had his cart in Paul’s way and took forever to remove it. Oh, and on top of this, Paul learns that his flight home has been cancelled, so he will have to drive all day to meet his family at their church’s Christmas Eve service.
Anyone who has ever had one of those days, or maybe one of those periods in life where not much goes right for a time, this movie is for you and will draw you in. How does Paul deal with the chaos? He is trying to be a good Christian, but when one thing after another goes wrong, he finds himself losing it. He gets on a convenient store attendant because the coffee is not fresh and they are out of creamer. As he impatiently waits in line, the customer in front of him, sensing his impatience, says, “Ho, ho, ho!” He is given a “Merry Christmas!” which he replies to with a sarcastic, “Yeah!” Then, totally frustrated, he prays in his car to God: “God, why are you always against me? Just once, be on my side.” He mentions his job paying less than what it was supposed to, not to mention he’s running late to get home. “I just don’t get it,” he tells God. “Just once-be on my side.”
Back on the home front, his wife reads from Luke chapter one to their boys. Paul, while driving the rental car home, has a passenger show up in the back of the car. The passenger is a man who talks, apparently, on behalf of God. It is an angel or the Lord Himself? He tells Paul, “I always have your best interests in mind.” And he adds, “I’m always on your side, son.” Paul is also told he was never meant to do everything on his own. True, he is to work, but it is God who will provide.
Later, it is a lady that rides in the back seat who reminds Paul he saw a homeless lady and her children at the convenience store but never offered to help. On top of everything Paul has endured, shortly he is slowed down by a train crossing the tracks!
The film does a good job in reminding the viewer that it is God who leads and guides, and the mystery lady does a great job in encouraging Paul that his kids appreciate him as a father.
In a comedic scene that helps lighten the tension of the movie, Paul’s wife tells him on the phone that the cat ate some of the icicles that were to go on the Christmas tree. “The next trip to the kitty litter might be interesting!” she jokes.
The Lord shares with Paul that he went through rejection too, but that He is the most famous one to ever do so! Anyone who has ever felt rejected in any way will relate to this and take hope that if Christ overcame rejection, He is faithful to help us do the same thing.
The lessons get through to Paul and he returns to tell the convenience store attendant that he is sorry he acted the way he did. He also lets her know that he knows she had considered suicide (God reveals it to Paul), as the woman has been through a serious health issue. But he encourages her. He also shares a blessing with the homeless woman and her children. Right after this, Paul receives some good news from the airline he had been booked on. Will he make it home on time? You will have to watch the movie to find out!
Though suicide discussions and heavy themes of doubt aren’t for young ones, we are pleased to award this film our Dove seal for Ages 12+.
The Dove Take:
The Greatest Gift Ever Given uses the chaos and bleh of reality to remind us what the greatest Christmas gift is!