Released on Netflix in November, A Boy Called Christmas is an origin story of Father Christmas based on the children’s book by Matt Haig of the same name.

Dangerous Journey

Eleven-year-old Nikolas (Henry Lawfull) has only received one gift in his entire life: a doll carved out of a turnip. The doll was a present from his parents, so Nikolas loves it. But when his mother dies and his father goes missing, he’s left in the care of Aunt Carlotta (Kristen Wiig), who clearly doesn’t enjoy children. Nikolas suspects that his father has gone to the North Pole to search for the fabled, magical village of the elves, Elfhelm, but Aunt Carlotta screeches that everyone knows there’s no such thing as elves.

Then Nikolas receives a summons from the king. “I’m asking you to go to the very edges of our kingdom and bring back a spark of magic to give us hope,” the king instructs Nikolas. It seems the king believes in elves, too!

Nikolas sets out on his quest, his only companion a talking mouse named Miika (Stephen Merchant).

“We have to go under the moon, past the sleeping giants and up the pointy mountain,” he tells the mouse. “But we’ll get there. I know we will.”

Fate of a Father

Nikolas and Miika help a reindeer who Nikolas names Blitzen, and he joins them on the journey. Eventually, they encounter some elves in the woods. Nikolas can’t believe it. They’re real! But where is Elfhelm? And more importantly, where is his father?

“To see something, you must believe in it. Really believe,” one of the elves tells him.

Nikolas closes his eyes and concentrates. When he opens them, he sees Elfhelm spread out before him. The elves welcome him into the village for a Christmas party. “I don’t know what Christmas is, but I love it,” says Miika.

Nikolas thinks everything is going according to plan. All he has to do is find his father and ask the elves for a spark of magic. But the elves decide that Nikolas can’t leave because he might bring other humans back to the village, putting them in danger.

If he remains trapped in Elfhelm, how will Nikolas give the king the spark of magic? And if his mission fails, what will happen to his father?

(Spoiler alert: I think the answer involves a flying reindeer and a boy who brings the magic and hope of Christmas to the world, teaching everyone how to believe in the impossible.)

The Personification of Christmas

St. Nicholas was a Christian bishop who lived in the fourth century in Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey. Orphaned at a young age, his parents left him a great deal of money. Nicholas was a kind man, and he used his vast wealth to help the poor and give anonymous gifts to people in need.

It’s hard to believe that the story of St. Nicholas morphed into Santa Claus, the secret nocturnal visitor who sneaks down chimneys to fill stockings with presents.

But there’s another Christmas story that’s even harder to believe. Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem, a humble, ordinary beginning. His birth was prophesied for centuries. When He came to earth, He brought something better than magic. He brought the hope of salvation to the entire world. Jesus was born, lived on earth for 33 years, and then died so that we could be saved and spend eternity in heaven.

St. Nicholas was a kind, generous man, but Jesus—God’s Son—is the real personification of Christmas.

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

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