I must confess I’ve been watching a lot of Hallmark Christmas movies since they first came out what seems like forever ago already during November on the countdown to Christmas.
These shows are kind of guilty pleasures for me. On the one hand, I like them because there’s elements to get you into the Christmas spirit. On the other hand, they’re a lot of fun to pick apart.
Those of you who’ve watched them know what I’m talking about. If you’ve seen one, you’ve almost seen them all. The plotlines are very similar and not a lot of imagination goes into the scripts.
There are surprisingly many journalists, a supposed dying industry, featured among the lead characters. You will also notice an overabundance of ad executives who have to do just the right thing to bring another big account for the firm that’s counting on them and there’s authors, small business owners, event planners and such in abundance.
Same story, slightly different occupations.
You don’t see too many regular millworkers or municipal employees in these episodes.
There’s always a conflict for one of the lead actresses, choosing between a guy who works too hard and pays no attention to her and another guy who just happens to come along under unforeseen circumstances. The guy who just came along or was familiar from her past always wins.
There are amazing coincidences when someone returns to their hometown and, lo and behold, their high school sweetheart is still there and they despise each other, but miraculously come around and wind up being an item by the end.
For those who aren’t hitched, they’re either divorced or widowed and, of course, they have young children. Those children are always very forward and take to mommy or daddy’s strange new love interest right away as if they’d known them all their lives.
I’d suggest the writers need a reality check if they think that scenario plays out very often in real life.
But these are supposed to be feel-good movies so you can forgive some of the obvious indiscretions.
There’s always someone who doesn’t quite have the Christmas spirit and the other one has it in spades and shows them the way. They come together, and voila, a love match made in heaven results.
I’ve never heard of, never mind seen, so many gingerbread house or ice sculpting contests taking place in these communities depicted in the shows. Maybe we’re missing something and should start organizing some of these right away. There’s cookie making galore. Very important everyone gets involved in that.
Offices always have a Secret Santa gift exchange on the agenda and you can probably guess who’s going to wind up buying something for who.
I laugh when the couple walking down the street together while talking happens to go past a coffee stand and someone hands both of them a drink. No one ordered anything or gave the vendor any money. Someone obviously knew their exact tastes – maybe the director? – and they were just handed a drink out of the blue.
Too bad real life isn’t like that. I could use a caramel macchiato right now, if I just knew what street to walk down so I could be magically given one.
Snowball fights happen a lot in these stories as a sloppy means of affection. No one bothers to form proper snowballs, they just start throwing bits of the fake stuff scooped up from the ground. It doesn’t look like something that would amuse anybody.
The outdoor skating rink crops up a lot. Many of the central characters don’t even know how to skate, but they just get the urge to do it, for some reason.
And, you’ll notice, it’s almost always snowing in these shows. They could be in a town that never receives any snow, but because they’re filming a particularly poignant scene, it suddenly comes down for the right affect.
One of the central characters is frequently the organizer of a Christmas pageant, festival or carnival – same thing, only different wording. Only trouble is, they never hire enough extras for the show and only about 30 people in the entire town ever turn up. Hardly seems worth the effort.
Some of the same actors and actresses have been in about a dozen of these shows. Off the top of my head, Candace Cameron-Bure, Lacey Chabert and Alicia Witt plus Colin Ferguson, Paul Campbell and Jesse Metcalfe on the guy’s side must make enough money doing these things to take the rest of the year off.
The shows always end with a big kiss from the two who’ve been putting off getting into a relationship until the end after overcoming some kind of misunderstanding that looked like it was going to prevent them from becoming a couple. Eureka, it all works out and everyone goes home happy, except the one guy or gal who got dumped in the process of the other two finding their true loves.
So that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown. At least it is in the Hallmark world.
So why watch them if they’re so schmaltzy, you ask? Well, it’s Christmas, and it just makes me so happy to see how our complicated world all falls into place for these people.
But, for us not in lala land, it’s a little more work. So I wish you a break from the daily grind and much relaxation with your loved ones at Christmas, as we all hunker down to watch another spectacular lovefest on the tube.
By the way, I wrote this column in less than 15 minutes and I left out a lot of other details from these movies I could have expanded upon quite readily. They may be filled with sometimes ludicrous sentiment, but you can’t get them out of your head for so many reasons.
(Don Bodger is the editor of the Chemainus Valley Courier).