The family-friendly Hallmark channel is known for their movies.
At the first of the year, we have Valentine movies.
In Spring, there’s Wedding movies.
The channel just finished their Harvest/Fall series, and they’re already promoting movies for Thanksgiving.
But next up is the “Countdown to Christmas,” which begins…before Halloween.
And of course, we had Christmas in July, in case I lost the holiday spirit halfway through the year, while sweating my ass off in the Texas heat.
As we move into the holiday season, one thing we can count on (aside from warning about the “War on Christmas”) is a new slew of Hallmark Christmas movies.
I read there are nearly FORTY new ones this year.
Which will be shown with the multitudes of previous Hallmark holiday movies.
These films are semi-innocuous escapist entertainment.
Who doesn’t need that in this political climate?
As a writer, watching these movies over the years (Don’t judge!) I’ve noticed that the plots tend to be similar in many ways, which is a literary device known as a “trope.”
Note: Truthfully, it doesn’t take a writer; I think any half-conscious human who sits through more than one of these movie will quickly pick up on these recurring themes. It’s as obvious as the pearly white teeth of the actors in the films.
This got me thinking.
And naturally, writing.
What would my life be like…if I actually lived in a Hallmark movie?
With just a hint of tongue-in-cheek sarcasm, mixed with my twisted perspective, and only a tiny bit of wishful thinking, go with me on a journey to my Hallmark alt-existence:
I’m young, attractive, well-built, heterosexual, and white. (VERY white)
I’m from a small town, in New England, and one of my parents has passed away.
The other still lives there.
I’ve long since moved away, and now live in New York, Chicago or Los Angeles, in a fabulous home, with an incredible view.
I rarely get back to my hometown.
(Are straight men in Hallmark movies allowed to say “fabulous?”)
I’m a successful, busy, uptight professional.
And a perfectionist.
I’m engaged to someone who’s nice, extremely attractive, and also incredibly white.
But I’m so busy, I take them for granted.
Or they are so focused on their own career, they take little interest in my life or my accomplishments.
We’ve been “together” for a long time, but maintain separate residences.
We don’t have sex, because even though I’m built like a Greek god, I never take off my shirt.
My assistant, and/or my best friend is Black.
They stay in the background, except when I need them to bail me out of a jam, or give me unsolicited advice.
There might be gay people in the orbit of my life.
At least, there are guys who seem to fit the stereotypical perception of gay.
(Only guys. There are no lesbians.)
Of course, no one talks about it, or says the word “gay” out loud.
I live in a polite “don’t ask, don’t tell” world.
For some reason, I have to temporarily leave the big city and my busy life and go to a small town.
Maybe even the same small town I grew up in.
I’m tasked with shutting down the main factory, buying up the snow-covered mountain for development, or building a garish mall on the site of the town’s beloved Christmas tree farm.
Or it could be a crisis that sends me back home.
My father or mother got hurt—not critically—and can no longer run our family business, which might be having financial difficulties.
(Oh, there is an outside chance my father might secretly be Santa.)
The small town is idyllic in every way.
Every shop is occupied with family owned businesses—flower shops, bridal shops, ONE old-fashioned diner-style restaurant, and of course, a bakery.
Most of the resident are nice. And also white.
There may be one old curmudgeon, but my story will ultimately change them.
(There could be one shop owner who occasionally helps the police solve murders, which happens more often than you’d expect in such a pleasant place.)
The town seems like something out of the 1950s, untouched by the 21st Century.
There might be Wi-Fi, but it will be spotty.
People have cell phones, but they are dismayed when I use mine in public.
The entire town, including every shop and every home, is over-the-top decorated for whatever season it is when I arrive: fall/harvest, Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Once I get to there, I meet a special person, or run into my first love who stayed in our hometown.
There’s instant chemistry.
This person is now divorced, or their spouse has died.
They have an adorable, well-behaved child, who wants us to be together.
This special person, for some reason, is lying to me about who they really are.
Or perhaps, I’m the one pretending to be someone else, or not being honest about why I’m really in town.
(If the person I meet has a British accent, more than likely, they’re royalty from an unknown country no one has ever heard of, hiding out in the states for some yet-to-be-disclosed reason.)
In spite of the deception, and the warnings of those close to me (my one parent, or my Black…or Asian…best friend), we continue to bond by participating together in activities like pumpkin carving, apple picking, sledding, the annual baking contest (we win, of course), caroling, ice skating, horse-drawn carriage rides, building gingerbread houses, working at an animal rescue clinic, or organizing the Festival that will save the town, or the playground, or the hospital.
It’s obvious to everyone around us that we were meant for one another.
I refuse to admit such feelings, knowing our time together is limited.
And I’m engaged.
To that person who didn’t come with me.
I tell everyone we just like spending time together, doing incredibly romantic things, sharing our deepest dreams, and staring at one another longingly.
When I do finally realize we are in love, I also learn the secret they’ve been keeping from me.
Or they learn the real reason I was sent to town.
We express our deep disappointment, without screaming, name-calling or any profanity, and go our separate ways.
There are moments of sadness, cuddling with my well-trained dog by a roaring fire, pouring out my heart to my Black (or Asian) best friend, or to my one parent.
There will be holiday-themed cookies to soften the blow.
They give me an inspirational, motivational pep talk, and I make the decision to break it off with my fiance, who has suddenly and unexpectedly shown up in the small town.
I confess my feelings to the person I truly love, and apologize profusely for my deception.
Or they explain why they lied to me.
They admit they also love me.
In the end, love is victorious.
After just a few days, we vow to spend our lives together.
(By the way, there could have been magic involved—from an elf or an angel—but we don’t know that.)
We finally kiss (no tongue), after at least one earlier attempt that was interrupted by someone coming in the room, or a phone call, or the timer on the oven signaling our holiday cookies were done.
People around us look on lovingly, nodding with approval.
(There will be music in the background.)
Snow—possibly real, maybe fake—begins to fall!
Everyone lives happily ever after.
Well, except for that gay acquaintance.
(But hey. They still have Grindr.)
<cue the swelling Christmas music>
P.S. If you have difficulties watching a Hallmark Holiday movie, there’s always this drinking game.