After further consideration, and after placing it in a broader context, it became clear that the ripping of Shane’s sleeve is the final step in a deconstruction that actually began all the way back in the Pilot.
The Pilot introduced us not only to our four intrepid POstables, but in particular to Shane’s wounds associated with the father that left she and her mother when Shane was 10. It all began with that misdirected birthday card and her refusal to open it. From that simple refusal came a narrative about Shane and the personal guilt she carried for not reconciling with her estranged father before he died. This was only the first layer of the problem, however, as that same conversation in which she was challenged to “tear open that pain [she] had been carrying around” and accept the forgiveness inside, her apparent dismissal of a belief in “God and redemption and all of that stuff,” also came to the fore.
Shane’s decision to open the letter was the first step in healing that wound, allowing her to forgive herself. But, as For Christmas demonstrated, there was still a lot more healing left to be done.
Trying To Answer
The first inklings of trouble lay in the ease with which Shane glossed over Christmas and her seemingly “bah humbug” attitude, which only seemed to intensify at the first mention of a letter to God which she and her fellow postal detectives were charged with delivering. It also presented the opportunity for Shane to grapple with the “little letter writer” whose own letter to God went unanswered for so long to the point she almost gave up hope altogether.
Right Here For You
That brings us to why Shane’s sleeve had to be ripped in that scene on the balcony. In biblical times, the tearing of someone’s clothes was sign of the depth of their grief. When Oliver grabs and rips Shane’s sleeve, it’s like a physical representation of the angelic joy “ripped” away from her as a child, disappearing “out the door with [her] dad.” Forced to confront the pain, she stands before Oliver wounded and openly grieving for the little girl who “should have asked for a puppy.”
After peeling away the layers of pain over the course of the series, Shane is finally ready to accept the answer Oliver is prepared to deliver. Oliver not only reveals the new family brought up around Shane, but also instills a deeper sense of faith and hope, softening her heart even more to God, who, in a way, made this special delivery to Shane personally---first through Jordan, who had been carrying her letter around for so many years and prepared her heart for healing, then subsequently through Oliver, who shared it with such love.
Shane’s story, particularly in this installment, is a powerful testament to lengths which God will go to in getting our attention. Even as we struggle to process our daily lives, He will go to highly orchestrated lengths to deliver healing in a way that ultimately frees us to be who He made us to be, and, in reality, the people perhaps we’ve always wanted to be. The process to get there may not always be as clear as if you’d seen it play out a hundred times like we’ve seen in For Christmas watching it back that many times, but it does happen if one’s heart is willing and prepared to receive it. We, too, can get our wings back.