“I’m dreaming of a maroon Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where there is no division and children listen
And pent up steam can gently blow.”

In our family, when conversations get too heated, we say “maroon” to cool things off. With all the tension in and out of our homes these days, how can we not let politics Trump our precious family time?

One of the ways we’ve discussed to keep us together is to keep us busy … so let us suggest ten ways to “maroon” your Christmas, and hopefully bring you closer to the real reason for the season:

#10: Watch Babette’s Feast. Pope Francis’ favorite film was an Oscar winner and is a story of deep spiritual conviction and lavish grace. Watch it as a family and then join us as we premier it theatrically for the Portland Stage on January 23 and then serve as producers for its off-Broadway production in March. For a theater experience, we can’t recommend enough two films our friends at Walden have in the market now that are good for the family and reflection: The Star and Wonder. Congratulations to them!

#9: Play Sky together. The founder of ThatGameCompany and dear friend, Jenova Chen, premiered his new game at the iPhone 8 launch event. He is the game designer behind Journey, considered the most spiritual console game ever released. Jenova’s new effort was developed to bring friends and families together through coop gaming, but with all the good, true and beautiful elements of the award-winning Journey.

#8: Listen to U2‘s new album, Songs of Experience. Maybe on a family car ride or just as a way to be reminded that RefuJesus is part of our nation’s story. A poignant reminder, especially at Christmas time when we celebrate the birth of our refugee Savior. And keep a lookout next year for a movie we will produce with Bono starring Willie Nelson and Charlotte Rampling, based on the Leonard Cohen song Waiting for the Miracle to Come … coming to an art house theater near you.

#7: Play Settlers of Catan. We had dinner recently with some new friends and avid board gamers who said that they have collected 700 games. We are giving each other a few of their recommendations this Christmas, but if you can just get one, you can’t go wrong with our current family favorite, Settlers of Catan.

#6: Binge watch Stranger Things. Our family and office water cooler conversations light up when we talk about Demogorgons, Eggos, and Hawkins. Although we didn’t binge watch as an office, we certainly rooted together for our friend, Sean Astin. He has been developing a film based on the book Number the Stars, the story of the Danes saving their Jews from the Nazis, and we are committed to helping this important story be told. Read our last post for our take on the value of horror.

#5: Visit the Museum of the Bible. If you haven’t visited the museum’s Impact Floor, you are missing out on one of the most remarkable museum experiences in Washington. Clapham had a hand in a number of the pop culture exhibits, and we would love to know which of the songs with a Scripture reference in the “surround sound booth” was already a favorite of yours.

#4: Read The Light Princess … out loud … together. The book was written by George MacDonald, one of the most prolific and influential fairy and fantasy writers at the end of the 19th century … in fact C. S. Lewis wrote that he had never written a book in which he did not quote from him. This year we launched a comic book and graphic novel effort called Cave Pictures Publishing and will be bringing The Light Princess to life as part of a slate being released in 2018. On a side note, Tori Amos recently staged a musical version, and hopefully, we can support her efforts to bring it to Broadway.

#3: Wear shoes from Nisolo … as a family. We are fans of a number of emerging and creative B Corps, but none more than Nisolo, a shoe and accessory company. Each member of our family has a pair and every time we put them on we are reminded that two years ago a majority of employees had never had a bank account prior to working for Nisolo, now 100% of Nisolo producers do. Only 16% of their producers were able to finish high school, now 100% of their children are in school, and six of them will soon be the first university graduates in their families. And no other shoe I own gets compliments as much as Nisolo’s do.

#2: Experience “Light” VR. Until virtual reality matures more, the VR experiences available to the masses without Oculus Rifts or HTC Vives at home are limited. However, our dear friend Jacob Marshall, the founder of the band MAE, pioneered a short VR experience last year that you can watch on your cell phone. It was performed live by MAE in Jerusalem at the Tower of David and experienced in VR at the same time by the audience there. The experience imagines the beginning of creation, “Let there be Light,” and I am reminded of John 1:9 every time I experience it.

#1: Read “The Journey of the Magi.” A new family tradition is to read out loud T. S. Eliot’s remarkable Christmas poem. We commented on his reflection back in 2011 and noted then that Eliot concludes his Christmas reflection by exploring themes that may make us uneasy, but ultimately give us peace. Let us close with one of the Three Kings’ reflections, and be reminded that to have truly lasting peace is not to “maroon”, but to let die the gods we clutch to (our pride, our passions and our ideological idols):


Were we led all that way for Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death, but had thought they were different; this Birth was hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms, But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods. I should be glad of another death.