Life isn't a Hallmark movie (and that's probably a good thing)


17 Dec

 It's that time of year where Hallmark releases 30+ brand new holiday movies. They have done so for the last 10 years, (Countdown to Christmas started in 2009) but they made their first original Christmas movie in 2000. The movies are both widely loved and reviled, strangely enough, for the same reasons. Similar plots, similar conflicts, similar characters and their realism (or lack thereof). In case you have never endured, I mean, enjoyed a Hallmark movie here is a typical holiday movie plot. Some might say it's the plot of every Hallmark movie but that's not totally true . . . well . . . it's 97% true.

    The movie opens, almost always in a city, with a young woman. We find out this woman is with a guy, a fiancee, a steady boyfriend or at the very least, a guy she likes or is good friends with. Then there is a massive change in her life. It could be losing her job, going home to her small town roots for Christmas or her fiancee/boyfriend breaks up with her. After this big change she finds herself in different circumstances where a handsome stranger or handsome person from her past enters the picture. One or both of these individuals either have just one parent or no parents because this increases the empathy factor for the characters. 

     After a series of activities where the girl and the handsome stranger bump into each other, have coffee together, serve at the homeless shelter etc, they decide there is a spark between them. True love is within their grasp. But with just 15 minutes left on the Hallmark movie clock, one or both of the characters does something stupid, misunderstands something the other says or decides to take that job in the big city/small town/far way from each other and the conflict drives them apart. With just seconds left on the clock, someone close to the pair helps one or both of them see the light and they find each other for one final kiss as snow falls, music plays and the townspeople stand around wondering what's going on.

    If you've see one, you've seen them all. I mean, if you've seen one you know exactly what I'm writing about. And yes, I've watched enough of these with my beloved that I know how they go and I still watch them with her. My daughter and I can pick with pinpoint accuracy which direction the plot will go and who will end up with who. But as I've titled this post, life isn't like Hallmark.

     For one, life's path can't be predicted as easily as a Hallmark Christmas movie plot. It is a lot messier than that. Also, unlike Hallmark movies, life continues after the "final" kiss. If the movie kept going, the characters would argue about who left dishes sitting around the living room and why can't the new guy in her life just take off his shoes at the door instead of tracking dirt all over her beautifully furnished apartment? And in real life, the people involved in these circumstances might actually turn to God for help instead of expecting someone in their life to come along and figure it out for them, or for "fate" to decide.

     I realize Hallmark movies aren't meant to be a deep commentary on life. They are clean, family-oriented holiday entertainment for the masses. I'm pretty sure everyone knows that Hallmark movies aren't real life so I'm not warning you against them. If it seems like I'm against them, I'm just having a little fun. At Christmas it's easy to get carried away in the nostalgia and "spirit" of the day. The injection of reality into the "Winter Wonderland", "The most wonderful time of the year" and "Jingle Bells" is Christ in the manger. That's real life and that's the reason we celebrate. 

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