Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
In my Christmas-themed redux series, my next favorite post is from last year. With inspiration and help from my brother Andy, who started us off on this fun topic (predictable, stock Hallmark Christmas movie plots and variations thereof), came, below, the light-hearted look at the films I’m sure by now have hooked millions of viewers–and sold a lot of Christmas cards, books, DVDs.ornaments, and other movie-related merchandise.
Of course there are many reasons for addictions to such lighter viewing fare.
Most people who celebrate Christmas enjoy a “fairy tale” dressed up, this time, in Christmas romance movies. For the devotee there is a lot of eye, ear, and heart candy to sup on in these stories as the days grow shorter and colder in at least this part of the globe, and minds and hearts linger longer at seasonal–and universal–themes centered on desire, hope, and fulfillment.
There are no end of imaginative ways to finesse the stock plots (as detailed in the original post), and the season is a long one, starting in some places even before Halloween as merchants anticipate their most lucrative financial season where gift-giving is the reason for the season.
So for the viewer, it’s to the popcorn, the cozy throw, a cheerful fire if you have a fireplace, and a little cinematic escape from ordinary life for ninety minutes or so. Hot cocoa is good too.
The Hallmark stories might not make for great literature or Oscar-worthy acting performances, yet they can lift the spirit, inspire the mind, and soothe the heart–gifts of another kind during this time of the year, particularly this Christmas season where, some argue, the so-called “war on Christmas” by those who oppose the religious aspect is already threatening to cast a “bah, humbug” pall (as arch-cynic Ebenezer Scrooge might put it) on the season’s light-heartedness–and on its (real) light.
In this year’s addendum, I explore another “gift” very needed just now as days of another kind get darker, sooner.
This gift takes off where the “happily ever-after” Hallmark fairy-tale endings conclude in all of their festive finery and Hollywood perfection, two figures leaning in for The Kiss at the finale, framed by shimmering red and green lights glowing in HD glory.
This gift is about another happily-ever-after where the main (and supporting) cast–and crew–are not perfect, the set decorations might lack some shine or might be missing altogether, and where hearts may not have experienced hope in ages, if at all. It is about a scene announced, first, by certain angels. On high. Heralding the original Gift…the Archetype of all that is desired, hoped for, and fulfilled, the One Who is the everlasting Light that will never fade.
The real reason for the season.
From December, 2017: On the Lighter Side
It’s Never Too Early To Enjoy Some Christmas Mirth: Every Hallmark Channel Christmas Movie Ever
A successful and beautiful female business executive/movie star/spoiled heiress finds herself discontent/misguided/emotionally detached and living in New York City, travels to/finds herself in/has to go against her will to a small mountain town/resort/lodge, in snow country resembling the Midwest.
Her quirky but lovable best friend/assistant/maid convinces her that she needs to stay at the resort lodge/mountain town/for a little R&R and perhaps have a holiday fling with the local lodge owner/resort manager/town mayor, who is invariably tall dark and handsome/emotionally detached/too busy to date because of his insurmountable grief over the loss of his children’s mother.
Always dead, never divorced. (UPDATE 2018: more recent ones feature divorce, too.)
With the help of her quirky, lovable, best friend/assistant/maid and the rustic outgoing townsfolk, she realizes her romance with the local lodge owner/resort manager/town mayor is too strong to make her go back to New York City and resume her monetarily successful yet emotionally bankrupt life.
There is lots and lots of snow and miles of pre-lit garland.
Everyone has a Canadian accent
AND if the men and or women have living parents the parents have been perfectly and sappily in love and married for decades and their homes have all been decorated for the holidays by what’s-her-name Robertson. Or if the parents are deceased, a prescient, elderly aunt/grandma/neighbor fills in. Or perhaps it’s an adorable child who seems to know the fated couple will end up together after the final commercial break.
The little dogs have Christmas sweaters.
Nobody ever has a seasonal head cold, not even a sniffle.
The Christmas cookies, strudel, pies, cakes, turkeys and green beans in cream of mushroom soup with crispy onions on top are all baked to perfection and displayed on every surface not already festooned with bows and candles and bells and other holiday artifacts from Hobby Lobby and/or Home Goods. Maybe Pottery Barn.
The music comes as close to real Christmas carols as possible without copyright infringements.
The old people always know exactly what to say.
The young people are always earnest.
And nobody EVER gets into a bar fight.
UPDATE (2017): A reader reminds us that for plot variation, a kindly, somewhat portly older man with white hair, mustache, whiskers (sometimes clean-shaven), and a name like “Nick” shows up and performs yuletide magic.
For December, 2018, and Ever After: On the Light Side
Luke 2:1-14 (King James Version of the Bible)
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.*
And from the “production notes,” as it were, this commentary from John 1: 4-9:
In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
8He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
9That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
And this is Jesus, the Light of all lights, Gift of all gifts, Desire of all desires, and Hope of all hopes…
If you think about it, though, the original Christmas narrative has all the elements of successful Hallmark–and other such–tales, that is to say, it provides the perfect prototype:
Young protagonist (and husband) are forced to leave their home right before their long-awaited baby is due. They face the challenges of traveling with the crowds, no room for them anywhere but in a stable when they arrive, and the baby comes that very night.
Not what they planned for, hoped for, and expected. Nevertheless, the perfect place, time, and circumstances for prophetic fulfillment.
Not in HD, but in GOD.
Not for one evening, but for eternity–the real happily ever after.
~*~ Merry Christmas, friends and readers! ~*~
*For another view of this scene: