Midnight Clear

“Midnight Clear” is a story about five different people all struggling emotionally for various reasons on Christmas Eve.  Lefty is an alcoholic who has just lost his job.  He also got kicked out of his house for not paying rent and is living in his car.  This is extra difficult for him because it means he will not be allowed visitation with his children who now live with his ex-wife.

Mary is a young mom with one son about ten years old.  Her husband was in a car accident and has brain damage that requires him to live in a 24 hour care facility.  It’s very difficult for her and her son to visit with him because he doesn’t speak and it’s not clear if he even knows who they are.

Kirk is a gas station/convenience store owner who feels trapped in a business that’s going nowhere.  He had dreams of selling his property one day and retiring on the income, but the property value never appreciated much.

Eva is a lonely old woman estranged from her family and suffering from depression.  Alone in her home on Christmas Eve, she contemplates overdosing on her prescription medication.

Mitch is a high school ministry pastor at the local church.  Mitch was good friends with Mary’s husband and was with him the night of the crash that left him brain damaged.  Mitch now feels remorseful for not visiting Mary’s husband more frequently in the nursing home.

As the story progresses, Mary ends up getting help repairing her car from Kirk the gas station owner.  Mitch encounters the lonely old woman, Eve, when he takes the youth group caroling.  He invites her to the Christmas Eve church service that starts late and continues to midnight.  She declines the offer.  Lefty trades some stolen items for a gun and contemplates suicide.

In the end, we discover that Eva is Lefty’s mom when he shows up at her house to reconnect after years of estrangement.  Eva convinces Lefty to take her to church and on the way they stop at the gas station where Kirk is helping Mary fix her car.   Lefty and Eva have some food they were going to donate at church but end up giving it to Mary, her son, and Kirk when they discover they are hungry.  Mitch is surprised and encouraged when he sees Eva show up at church with her Son.  Mary, her son, and Kirk enjoy their Christmas Eve meal donated by Lefty and Eve, sitting in folding chairs outside the gas station.

This is not a joyous celebration kind of Christmas movie.  This is a somber look at troubled emotions at Christmastime.  These five stories are woven together in a way that gives consideration to the understanding that small changes can make an appreciable difference in someone’s life.  While the ending is satisfying, it can’t be characterized as a happy ending.  The tone presented at the end is more of an indication that life is a struggle, but there is hope.

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