Even though Advent is only beginning, and the Christmas season does not liturgically commence until Dec. 25, the deluge has begun. It is “holiday” movie time on television. Actually, the dam burst weeks ago with numerous stations and streaming services making sure we were all in the “spirit” of Christmas before the Thanksgiving turkey came out of the oven.

I do not want to come off sounding like Scrooge, but I can live without most of these movies and television specials that have some supernatural power to perpetuate themselves every December. And nothing ranks higher on my list of things to avoid this time of year than the Hallmark channel. They have relegated Christmas to a backdrop for infinitely forgettable rom-com fodder. 

If you have seen one Hallmark channel “holiday” movie where the hard-driving woman executive in New York who gets stranded in the quaint Connecticut town populated by quirky but simple folk and protected by a handsome widower sheriff with a precious 8-year-old, you have seen them all. 

Before the first Hallmark commercial, we know the woman will not allow her New York hedge fund to close down the little town’s factory and she will embrace the “spirit” of the season either with the help of a wise country doctor or a bumbling guardian angel.

If I just spoiled 57 Hallmark channel movies for you, my apologies. 

I come here not as Scrooge, but more as Bob Cratchit, for I discovered, of all things, an animated Christmas-themed movie whose main theme is NOT some amalgamated potion of secular holiday humbug. Instead, this is a sweet film, aimed at children, all about what Christmas is really about. It is a film that uses the Gospel narrative as the outline for its script.

Last I Googled, there were no talking donkeys, birds, dogs, sheep, goats, cows, and camels in Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, but there are in “The Star” — it is a kid’s cartoon after all. Released in 2017, the star of “The Star” is Bo, a talking donkey with dreams of glory.

As with all animated “holiday” films, live action or otherwise, I approached this DVD purchase with some trepidation. “Holiday” shows have many problems. You are almost guaranteed some combination of bad theology, bad movie making, outright offensive content, or an unsavory blend of all three.

“The Star” is none of those things. It may not be the most artistically animated film or the tightest script, but its genuine and faithful adherence to the Nativity narrative deserves accolades. We, along with Bo, follow Mary and Joseph from the visit Mary receives from the angel Gabriel to the final destination of the manger in Bethlehem. And throughout there are biblically true moments, like Herod’s evil intentions, and even a quick reference about Zechariah being struck mute over his lack of belief.

Yes, the “star” of “The Star” may be a talking donkey with a gaggle of other talking animal friends, but even that story arc has more to it than just capturing the attention of a 5-year-old. Bo wants to break free from the drudgery of being a beast of burden and yearns to do something “important.” He believes his answer lies in the royal caravan he craves to join. You can guess which King he winds up serving.

The film is not perfect. It has a small musical interlude using the song “Mary Did You Know.” This is the bad theology that rears its head often in pop culture. It is a short sequence, thank the Lord, and soon we are back to the story and the characterization of Mary and Joseph that makes it perfectly clear they knew exactly what they were doing. 

I found “The Star” such a lovely and earnest telling of the Nativity that I could easily forgive any flaws it may have. It is lightyears ahead of some creepy stop-action animation from the 1960s that haunt my dreams to this day.

No great accolades came this movie’s way other than eternal gratitude from parents and grandparents in desperate search for Christmas movie content.

There will be plenty of time for my grandson to wrap his head around the concept of the hypostatic union and the mystery of the Trinity. But for now, if a talking donkey and a sprinkling of simple songs are enough to fire his imagination about that very first Christmas, then “The Star” is a blessing and a film everyone with a kid should put on their must-see Christmas movie list.