‘Nightmare’ is about embracing what makes you special

Touchstone Pictures/Disney
This is a shot from Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” movie, which is now streaming on Disney+.

Now Streaming review of
Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (Touchstone Pictures/Disney)
Genre: Animated, Fantasy, Musical
Streaming service: Disney+
Rating: PG (some scary images)

By Lindsay Steele


Summary: Can Christmas be saved? Bored with the same old scare-and-scream routine, Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, longs to spread the joy of Christmas. But his merry mission puts Santa in jeopardy and creates a nightmare for good little boys and girls everywhere!
Synopsis: “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas” has been out for nearly 30 years, but I thought it might be fun to offer a new take on this classic Halloween film — or is it a Christmas film?

The film, though spooky and not for young children, offers a positive message about embracing who you are and blooming where you’re planted.


So often in life, we look at what other people are doing and think they’re better off. We lament the limitations that keep us in our own space. We wish we were more athletic, attractive, wealthier or talented in a certain field. We get bored with what we have received and take it for granted, as if it somehow doesn’t count. Maybe we don’t recognize the blessings we have because we are so busy focusing on what we don’t have.

In “Nightmare,” Jack Skellington is tired of his role as the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town and looks at Christmas Town as the answer to his ennui. After a failed attempt to take over Christmas, Jack returns to Halloween Town reinvigorated. He realizes that trying to be someone he’s not, in this case, “Sandy Claws” — isn’t the solution. Accepting his little place in the world and looking for new possibilities within — is the solution.

I began to see this movie in a new light recently after watching a YouTube video from actor Atticus Shaffer, who is not associated with the film. He has a medical condition that causes fragile bones and short stature; at age 24, he is 4’ 8” tall. Fans often ask him how he can stay positive when he has so many limitations.

Shaffer, a Christian, said he joyfully accepts what God has given him and chooses to thrive within that space instead of feeling upset about what he will never be able to do. He achieved success playing Brick Heck on the TV show “The Middle” for 10 years. He also does voiceover work for TV and film. In my opinion, his performance as Grumpy Toad in the animated cartoon Pete the Cat (Amazon Prime) showcases his desire to make the most of every opportunity he receives. Grumpy’s role grows larger with each new season and special. I think that has a lot to do with what Shaffer brings to the role.

God has given each of us a space in which to work and gifts to share. It’s up to us to embrace them.

Discussion questions:
What are your unique gifts?
Have you ever wished you had other gifts instead? If so, which gifts?
When do you feel most grateful for the gifts you have received?
How can you use your unique gifts to improve your part of the world?

(Editor’s note: Lindsay Steele is a reporter for The Catholic Messenger. Contact her at steele@davenportdiocese.org or by phone at (563) 888-4248.)

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