Noelle (2019) is mainly a movie about a daughter of Santa Claus discovering that she has inherited her father’s talents for the vocation of gift-giving to children across the world. However, it also highlights the importance of fathers, in both intact and separated families.


Santa’s daughter Noelle (Anna Kendrick) is a self-absorbed young woman who exasperates her cranky nanny Elf Polly (Shirley MacLaine). As a young girl, she was instructed that her ultimate role was to support her brother in his position as Santa Claus, keeping up his “Christmas spirit”. She spends her days creating cheery Christmas cards and fritters away her time with festive frivolities.

Her brother Nick Kringle (Bill Hader) is expected to become Santa Claus upon his father’s passing, but is manifestly unfit for the role, failing all discernible metrics — sleigh-landing, chimney-sliding, goodness-discerning, present-guessing. To stave off a nervous breakdown, Noelle suggests that Nick take the weekend off.

Seeking Family

When her brother doesn’t return from his break, Noelle is blamed for his absence. She voyages to sunny Phoenix, Arizona in search of her sibling to save Christmas. There, she engages the services of a private investigator, Jake Hapman (Kingsley Ben-Adir), who is looking after his young son Alex (Maceo Smedley) while nervously anticipating his first Christmas as a divorced dad.

Jake muses on the pitfalls of being a single dad. “Sometimes I feel like a hyped-up camp counsellor when he’s around. I have to make sure he’s having a good time since we don’t get to see each other as much. And I feel guilty… and then I overcompensate.”

Jake mentions that his ex-wife Jessie has invited him to spend Christmas with her, her new husband and Alex, but that he will probably decline as he feels she is inviting him out of a sense of obligation, and he doesn’t want to make things awkward.

The Best Gift

Later, when Jake upbraids Noelle for telling Alex that he will be coming over for Christmas, Noelle reminisces about her father’s return home each Christmas evening: “He would sit and tell us about his night. That was my favourite present.”

In the end, Noelle delivers the best Christmas gift to Alex: his father. “Traditions change, right?” she says to Jake. “The new ones might be scary, but they may be great. And if you know what Christmas means to you, the tradition’s just the wrapping.”

“Christmas means spending time with Alex,” Jake concludes.

Nowadays with divorce on the rise, blended families are becoming more common. It is easy for adults to focus on their wounds or insecurities and let their differences get in the way of parenting. However, when parents exercise maturity and place the interests of their children first, families can create new traditions that support their children through life.

It takes courage to change, but what a great gift it is when children are able to receive the love of their parents, on Christmas and every other day of the year. Ultimately, like Noelle, they will then be able to share the love they have received with their community and even the whole world.

Runtime: 1h 40min
Suitable for ages 10-12 upwards.

Published On: January 1st, 20220 CommentsTags: , , , , ,

About the Author: Jean Seah

Jean Seah is a law and liberal arts graduate with a profound faith in God. She is a passionate supporter of Freedom, Faith, Family and Life. Jean is the Managing Editor of the Daily Declaration and looks after the Canberra Declaration's social media. Jean is a devout Catholic who lives in Brisbane, Australia. She also edits and writes for MercatorNet and Ignitum Today; and has written for News Weekly and Aleteia.

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