I’ll admit it. I have a few guilty pleasures of which I’m not proud – especially around the Christmas season. For example, I find it completely normal and even healthy to have five different desserts rotating through our kitchen at any given time. I convince myself that I should start reading Debbie Macomber books immediately. I also start packing to see my family a good 2.5 weeks before being due at the airport. All totally normal, right? Well, I know that I’m not alone on being a little more kooky than usual this time of year. When I’m taking a break from being a sugar-crazed, neurotic, type-A personality during the month of December, I can be found nestled in the nook of the couch watching Hallmark Christmas movies.
When Dave and I didn’t have cable for the first 5 years of our relationship, I had no idea what I was missing! Holy baby Jesus! I cry, I laugh, I swoon…and I admire how absolutely ridiculous these movies are! I know, I know, these movies are supposed to be the perfect representation of the “Christmas spirit,” but you have to admit that even Hallmark goes a little too far sometimes. After years of watching these movies at our house or at my in-laws, I started realizing that there are some patterns in Hallmark movies that occur again and again and again…they’re representations of a perfectly unreal ideal that we’re all accepting as “normal.” I know these movies are primarily shot in big open lots in Hollywood, but come on! Where’s the reality in these stories of families that are supposed to be just like us?? Yet, even when I’m making the occasional sarcastic comment at the television or rolling my eyes at the dialogue, I can’t help but set record on my DVR for the next one in the lineup – Lacy Chabert, Rachel Boston, Candace Cameron Bure – I can’t get enough! I guess I just hate to love Hallmark Christmas movies. Below are the ten reasons why Hallmark movies both frustrate me and pull me in each year. Let me know if you agree or have any new comments to add to my list.
1. Perfect everything all the time.
Even though the female lead is a super busy, career-focused, stressed single woman, she still manages to always have a full face of makeup, perfectly curled hair, and an incredibly clean and stylish home that looks like it was decorated by a host on HGTV. And better yet, if she’s a single mom, she complains about how little sleep she’s had over the past few nights and still wakes up done up and accessorized. I thought we were supposed to take our makeup off before going to bed? My bad. Guess all the dermatologists have been wrong this whole time. Excuse me while I put three layers of concealer on and plug in my curling iron.
2. Small towns are the best towns and big cities are full of anti-Christmas scrooges.
“Miss perfect female lead” comes from either one of two places in Hallmarkland – the big city, which she will eventually find out from her male lead is bad or a small town where she will meet a business man and teach him that the big bad city cannot possibly compete with the charm of a small town whose only industry happens to be Christmas.
3. Getting a promotion at work: What, like it’s hard?
Hallmarkland is very black and white (or should I say red and green?). Your boss is either a hard ass who doesn’t recognize how amazing you are or your every achievement is noticed by your boss and you earn the position of partner at age 27 after one small coup. If only Hallmark…if only.
4. Women give up their career dreams for the first good guy that comes along.
Speaking of careers…how is it that a Hallmark woman – who we’ve been told has given up a relationship and family in order to achieve the success that has been her lifelong passion – gives it all up after knowing her leading man for only 3-5 days? Maybe they put more than chocolate in their hot cocoas in these small Christmas towns. Also, if you’re a window(er) your chances of romance in the Hallmark universe are about 10 x as good as if you’re a divorcee. What happened to feminism ladies? Also, can you only fall in love during the month of December? I suppose that’s what people mean when they say “the reason for the season” – to get yourself a man!
5. Coffee pushing and unapologetic product placement.
Watch out Gilmore Girls! The ladies of Hallmark can drink you under the table! When it comes to coffee that is. Never have I ever seen so many caffeine dependent women on television. It seems as though the only way for the “best friend/assistant” to enter into a conversation with the lead is if she has a venti non-fat sugar-free something or other in tow. During the 2015 Christmas season, Folgers was the main spotlight because it was a huge sponsor. I do miss those 5 second long freeze frames.
6. It’s December…bundle up everyone!
Even though it’s December and the characters are in some remote New England or Pacific Northwest small town, they are never wearing more than a thin coat (I’m convinced that it’s not even real wool) that is perpetually unbuttoned. I have lived/travelled to Michigan, Boston, New York, and Chicago during Christmas and believe you me; there is no way in hell that I’d be walking slowly outside and having a meaningful conversation with or without my coat buttoned up. When you’re in real winter versus a Hollywood sound stage, there is no leisurely walking! You’re bundled up fighting the wind to get from door to door as quickly as your frozen legs can get you there. Come on Hallmark, let me at least believe that it’s really 25 degrees and not 80 and sunny.
7. Single teachers, ad executives, and even toy salesmen all live in $600k houses.
Since we’re talking “reality” and all…let’s pry ourselves away from the far-fetched storylines and Christmas chemistry and take a look at one of my biggest Hallmark movie pet peeves – the houses. While some of the characters are big execs on the road to partner, the majority are either mid-level employees at an ad agency or working for a fledgling small town toy company. I don’t care if you are in the real world or in Hallmarkland, you will never get me onboard with the idea that a single woman (often single mom) is living in a house that is easily $600,000. I have worked as a teacher, in big city corporate America, and at a small town antique shop and I can tell you, In my 20s I never made a six-figure salary that could afford a home like the ones on Hallmark and neither did anyone else with whom I worked (unless they were the VP or married to one).
8. Christmas is the “get out of jail free card” on everything.
Now this one I actually kind of just love. In any Hallmark movie, whether you’re a kid or old man, you can get out of any pickle by simply saying, “But it’s Christmas!” I’m going to keep this in mind the next time I go into Target and my bill is $300 – “but it’s Christmas!”
9. Everyone knows everyone.
Just like the song says, I have lived in a small town. I even grew up in a small town. Yet, I never saw a small town pull together for its neighbors like they do in Hallmarkland. It’s actually kind of beautiful. I also didn’t know that you’re supposed to have truly deep relationships with everyone in your small town to begin with. Oops. Maybe I’ll get this one right by next Christmas.
10. Santa and Christmas magic are very real.
Santa Claus is real and he’s watching. I actually kind of want this one to be true. Merry Christmas everyone!