Twinkling bright lights, fragrant pine trees, and steaming mugs of hot chocolate. Ahhhhhh…this is how we know Christmas is right around the corner.
Oops. I forgot one (and some may argue the most important one of all): The Hallmark Christmas Movie.
It’s just not the holiday season unless Hallmark Channel is running Christmas movies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. True, the movies tend to blend together after watching umpteen of them (guilty as charged), and yes, their plot lines are formulaic (always, always with a meet-cute), but there is genuinely something special about each movie. They all represent the magic of Christmas—a time to get together with family and friends, a time to reflect on the past year with gratitude, and a time to help those less fortunate.
But, even though Hallmark movies are intended to evoke a sense of peace and joy, they can actually have quite the opposite effect. Put simply, you either love them or hate them; there is really no middle ground. Most people fall into one of two categories:
1) Avid watcher and devotee: a person whose DVR is overflowing with recorded movies (including perennial favorites), has favorite actors, and knows (or suspects) the plot of the entire movie within the first two minutes (but watches with rapt attention anyway); or
2) Serial hater and critic: a person who refuses to watch any Hallmark movie, but when it cannot be avoided, approaches each with a cynical eye, disparaging the movie for being predictable and “not remotely like real life.”
I fall squarely in the first camp. Nevertheless, I understand the naysayers’ perspective. They’re right: Hallmark movies are not like real life. They’re set in their own perfect and often unrealistic universe in which everything goes right in the end and the characters always fulfill their dreams and find true love. Nothing ever goes sideways—or at least not permanently. (And, that’s the same for all Hallmark movies, whether they are of the Christmas, Valentine’s Day, June Weddings, or Fall Harvest variety.)
The fact of the matter is, however, Hallmark movies are not supposed to be like real life. They are meant to provide an escape from reality. Life can be hard and is not always exciting. Our plans don’t always work out as we hope they would. Hallmark movies don’t try to be anything other than what they truly are: feel-good made-for-TV movies that have happy endings. It is that simple. Hallmark movies provide a two-hour getaway from whatever you need to get away from.
I know that Hallmark movies aren’t for everyone, and that’s okay. Love them. Hate them. It is your choice. Personally, I’m off to watch a newly-released one right now!
Merry Christmas, and Happy Hallmark Watching (or not)!
Author’s Note: The cover photograph is from my favorite Hallmark Christmas movie, A Bride for Christmas, with my favorite actors, Andrew Walker and Arielle Kebbel. I have it permanently saved. (Don’t judge.)
Cover Photo Credit: Hallmark Channel
Graph Photo Credit: John Atkinson from Wrong Hands