We are hurtling towards peak Christmas. At the end of another strange year, we are reaching the reassuringly familiar saturation point of jingling bell-riddled songs, mince pie consumption is gathering pace and that unmistakable feeling of festive cheer is warming nicely alongside the pan of mulled wine. And the annual debate has already started about which is the greatest Christmas movie of all time.

In the Knox house, next week we will wrap presents while getting angry with Alan Rickman for breaking Emma Thompson’s heart in Love Actually. Soon, hopefully with at least one eye on the football, I will have to endure The Holiday. Then, Bruce Willis will throw Alan Rickman off the Nakatomi tower (serves him right for buying that necklace). And then, I will do what I do every year, without fail, on the night I finish work for Christmas. I will settle down with a glass of something delicious and a selection of cheeses in front of my extended family of Uncle Frank, Buzz, old man Marley, Gus Polinski, Harry and Marv, and watch Home Alone.

I am so familiar with these 103 minutes that:

A) I can tell you the exact address of the McCallister residence;


B) I can sing you through the exquisite John Williams soundtrack; and

C) I annually mouth my way through the pizza delivery scene: Keep the change ya filthy animal!”

And yet, every year I find that this story, that first made me writhe with laughter as a ten-year-old with the brutal torture of Joe Pesci and and Daniel Stern as they make their way through blow torches, nails, Micro Machines, paint tins and Buzz’s tarantula, moves me to the core. I still crack up at the line, Why the hell are you dressed like a chicken?”, but I make my annual pilgrimage to 671 Lincoln Avenue because there is something deeper going on in the narrative.

Home Alone is ultimately a story about family, unlikely friendship, and redemption. Kevin McCallister’s defence of his home is a subplot to his awakening and journey from individualism (“When I grow up and get married, I’m living alone!”) to appreciation of the family he thinks he made disappear: Instead of presents this year, I just want my family back.” The moment where the tears begin to stream is the one where Kevin’s desperate mum embraces her lost son, places a ring on his finger, coat on his back, sandals on his feet and declares, Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” Wait! That’s a different story! Or is it…?

"Home Alone is ultimately a story about family, unlikely friendship, and redemption."

When I search my heart to ask why this story of this loveable eight-year-old being reunited with his mum moves me so much, it is that I know deep down that I am lost. I am broken and need the embrace of one who loves me and who longs for me to come home. I think we all know that feeling. I think it is woven in the depths of our being by the only one who can find us. I think the reason we love Home Alone is that we are all Kevin McCallister.

And then, just when you think the story has reached resolution and your heart is safe, Kevin is drawn from the hug with his mum towards the snow-framed window. As he gazes through the frosty glass, he observes his bearded friend Marley reunited with his son and granddaughter in an act of forgiveness and atonement. Moreover, it was an act instigated by Kevin the night before during a conversation about fear, family, and dinosaur pyjamas. And here is what I love so much: that whilst we are all broken and in need of love, we can also be agents of hope and reconciliation. Kevin is hurting, helpless and hopeless, yet he is also the game changer in the story of Marley’s family. We are all Kevin McCallister: wounded and yet wonderful, limping and loved.

"Here is what I love so much: that whilst we are all broken and in need of love, we can also be agents of hope and reconciliation."

This Christmas, more than most Christmases, I need to know that I am loved. You probably do too. The best stories, like this one, all point to a bigger story that, unlike this one, really is true. There really is one who longs to embrace you, one who sees us in our brokenness and invites us to know we are not alone. The invitation of the very first Christmas is to know and be known by the God whose present is His presence and to belong to a family of broken believers changing the world. You are not alone. Come home.