Some stories are beautiful because of their complexity - all the thought-provoking details that come together to form a grand whole. (A great example would be The Polar Express, which we featured earlier this week.) But some stories are beautiful because of their sweet simplicity, and Annabelle's Wish is one of those stories.
The animation may not be stellar, but it's adorable. And the heartfelt message about selfless love - well, that is stellar!
This is yet another movie that my family was kind enough to watch with me again for "Christmas in July," enduring the tears that this movie inevitably causes pretty much every time we see it. ;) So now that this movie is fresh in my mind, I'd like to share with you how Annabelle's Wish portrays a journey of love:
A Journey of Love
"Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another."
~ I John 4:11
A little calf is born on Christmas Eve on a farm owned by a kind older man and his grandson - a boy who hasn't spoken since the day he almost died in a barn fire. When Santa comes and visits the animals as he does every year before leaving presents at the house, he gives the animals all the gift of being able to talk for one day. And from the moment the sweet calf Annabelle opens her mouth, she steals every heart with her enthusiasm and curiosity for life. Upon seeing Santa's reindeer and learning about their ability to fly, she is determined that one day she will fly, too.
Christmas day greets her with the possibility of a dear new friend in the young farm boy, Billy. They get along so well right from the start that Annabelle accidentally gives away the animals' secret about being able to talk. And that's when she learns that Billy can't
talk. But as the narrator notes, they didn't need speech with the kind of friendship they had - the kind that's more precious than words.
Christmas is soon over, and Billy, Annabelle, and Emily (Billy's friend) all make wonderful memories over the next year. And during that time Annabelle tries her best to be good so that when Santa comes back, she can ask him for an extra special wish. But Annabelle's not the only one with a wish, and a heart for others...Grandpa - Sacrificial Love
Billy's grandpa is a kind man who takes good care of the farm animals and loves his grandson. As he tells Billy's aunt when she tries to take Billy back to the city with her: "Billy and me - we're all each other's got."
So what is Grandpa's wish? Because he loves Billy, his wish is for Billy to have a good home, good friends, and a good life. When their neighbor, Mr. Holder, takes Annabelle away as payment for the fence Billy and Annabelle wrecked, Grandpa sells his dearest possession - his daughter's music box - in order to buy Annabelle back. To see Annabelle and Billy reunited... It's a moving and poignant scene, showing just how important their friendship is.
Grandpa's love led him to make a sacrifice for Billy. Our example of the ultimate sacrificial love comes from God - our Father who chose to send His Son to die for us so that we might be saved and live with Him forever. Sacrifices hurt, no matter how big or small, but the fulfilled wish in the life of someone else is the powerful reward of such love.Emily - Understanding Love
Emily is Billy's best friend (along with Annabelle, of course!), and her loving heart is quite exemplary. She cares about Billy so much that she doesn't need to hear his voice to know what it is he wants. For example, after caroling on Christmas Eve, Emily starts to walk away, and it is evident Billy wants to say something to her - but he can't. At that moment Emily turns around and says, "Merry Christmas to you, too, Billy."
And after Christmas, when Emily brings over her new sled so that they can play, she suggests that Billy can be an elf. But almost instantly she changes her mind and says, "Actually, I've decided that I want to be an elf, so you're going to have to be Santa Clause. I hope that's alright with you." The look of joy and contentment in being understood is so sweet as it shines on Billy's face.
For Emily, her love shows in her understanding. Not only does she set aside her own wants, but she cares enough to really see
who Billy is and desire his happiness above her own. It's no surprise that such close, selfless friends get married later on in life. Their friendship reminds me of a quote from the movie Little Women
: "Your heart understood mine." What a wondrous foundation for romance! And we, too, can show understanding toward others when we realize that God truly understands us, and loves us unconditionally.Mr. Holder - Humble Love
Mr. Holder is a proud man with a painful past. It is suggested that his wife died, and he has two boys to take care of. He believes that his boys are above all wrong, but when he discovers that this is not the case (ie: when the sheriff tells him his bullying boys were lying about the reason Annabelle "attacked" them), he is forced to swallow his pride.
He is told by the sheriff about the fact that Billy's grandpa sold his beloved daughter's music box in order to buy Annabelle. The sheriff also tells him, "You of all people should know what it's like to lose a loved one."
Yes, Mr. Holder understands. And that is why he buys the music box back and presents it to Billy's grandpa. His act of love is also one of humility. By giving Billy's grandpa the music box, he is showing that he was wrong. And sometimes we must show love to others by humbly admitting we were wrong. Love like that is difficult, but also healing and very meaningful. Knowing that God has forgiven us of so much, we can find the ability to be humble through His grace.Annabelle's Wish
Earlier I alluded to a wish Annabelle wanted to ask of Santa. All year long she shows love to her friends and works hard to be good so that she can ask for this wish. When Santa returns the following Christmas, she approaches him and whispers her wish into his ear. In the background you can see the reindeer she longs to be like, and you can recall her dreams of flying just like them.
On Christmas morning, Annabelle is not a reindeer. But Billy has a very special package waiting for him in the Christmas tree: an empty one. Yet when he lifts it up and over his head to make sure it's empty, he clearly declares, "There's nothing in here." He can talk!
Annabelle gave up her special Christmas voice for the rest of her life so that Billy could have a voice. Billy exclaims to Annabelle, "But I thought your wish was to fly!"
Annabelle's mother replies, "To hear you talk - that
was Annabelle's wish."
Such a powerful example of love! Annabelle's wish - her dream - was for her best friend, Billy. And through the years Billy never forgot her gift.
One Christmas Eve when she is old, Annabelle goes out into the snow, and Billy follows her, worried that she won't survive in the cold. But Santa finds Annabelle and tells her, "I believe someone has a wish for you." And with some Christmas magic Billy gets to see Annabelle transformed into a beautiful reindeer - with a voice and the ability to fly.
It's such a simple story of friendship, daily life, and Christmas cheer. But through its simplicity Annabelle's Wish
shares a meaningful message of love that can inspire us to love others just as we have been loved.(Note: Movie cover image is from IMDb.com, character pictures are from the Annabelle's Wish website, and the song clip is from YouTube.com.)