‘Tis the season for Christmas movies!
Since the beginning of November, the ‘W’ network has been clogging our cable-provider with all sorts of Hallmarky kinds of movies. Not just Christmas movies mind you, but cheesy, romantic, happy ones. I recall a commercial awhile ago telling me that Hallmark had twenty-two new movies for this season – that’s in addition to reruns and reruns-of-reruns from previous years not to mention all the non-Hallmarkers.
If you’re not sure what a cheesy, Hallmark-type Christmas movie is, let me give you a quick introduction to the common threads:
- mostly set in quaint, rustic hotels or ranches with lots of knotty-pine;
- small towns with quaint shops, mountains and fir trees in the background are gold;
- sometimes set in the city or suburbs (but we all know that’s a downer).
- candles, bows, gifts, evergreen trees;
- over-the-top Christmas lighting and decorations in both the town and in somebody’s rustic home;
- baking: cookies score well but pies and turkeys are great too;
- horses, dogs and reindeer can be fun;
- fake snow on the ground, snow men, snowballs, fluffy snow falling on at least two separate occasions;
- hot chocolate or cider;
- sleighs, wood burning fireplaces, wet sidewalks;
- a town square and an occasional church or community centre where a holiday happy crowd can gather to do something festive;
- sweaters – lots and lots of sweaters. And scarves;
- a good magical snow globe is always handy;
- alcohol (just kidding).
- happy music obviously;
- popular traditional Christmas songs for fun experiences;
- ironic music for those silly moments;
- Christmas carols for important, personal moments;
- string instruments (with much string-plucking), simple piano;
- only percussion needed is brushes on a snare drum, bells (sleigh & church);
- and chimes – lots and lots of chimes – for that ‘pixie-dust’ sound effect when something magical happens.
- two primary characters (one good looking male, one good looking female) who meet in the first scene;
- these good looking people will end up together at the end, don’t stress about it;
- children and single parent characters add depth and can really bring out the Kleenex.
- a variety of folksy, quirky types (sounds like our family), including but not limited to:
- warm, embracing parent(s);
- an awkward friend or two;
- some kind of wise, beloved senior citizen;
- the occasional Santa Claus.
- one of the main characters must be a driven, business-minded, self-centred workaholic;
- the other main character needs to love small towns, family traditions, fixing things, fresh air and jeans;
- on the rare occasion that the main characters are both busy and driven, then a child or wise, older person will intervene;
- a misunderstanding will need to take place (usually an innocent conversation overheard accidentally);
- this misunderstanding is necessary to keep the shallow plot rolling but don’t worry, it won’t last long;
- the misunderstanding is resolved near the end when one of the characters decides not to go to Chicago or New York;
- after a number of near-kisses … the good looking main characters will acknowledge their love and do that very thing;
- we can infer that they will live happily ever after but who really knows?
Now that I’ve straightened those details out for you, let me ask an obvious question: is this really only the middle of November?
Oh, and another question: why are these movies so popular? Why do people binge watch these predictable, feel-good Christmas stories?
I believe there is a thread running between every cheesy Christmas television movie. There is a reason we love movie narratives that pit driven, selfish lifestyles against simple, generous lifestyles. I think we instinctively know that life is gifted to us to be embraced and lived, not hurried and tolerated.
My theory is that we crave – yes crave – the core values of those movies in our lives: simplicity, wonder, romance, reverence and goodness.
In a raging, racing world I think we actually crave quality time and good conversation and neighbours who care. We crave celebration, fresh air, family gatherings. We crave honesty, morality, relationship. We crave problems that get mutually resolved and the hope of new beginnings.
As this Christmas season starts charging toward us, let the cheesy Hallmarky movies remind us again how to live. Live simply. Make time. Relax. Sing. Look. Taste. Smile. Smell. Listen. Hug. Enjoy the blessings of this moment and the hope we have for the next one.
And be thankful.