Why we love Hallmark Christmas Movies (at least, why I do)

I confess. I love watching the marathon of Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channels (Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries). Yes, the plots are predictable, the sentimentality definitely over the top and one must get used to the idea of seeing the same actors play somewhat same characters in multiple movies but,  I’m a sucker. For a majority of the movies, there isn’t a lot of character development or a need to analyze outcomes, just very recognizable story lines and a whole lot of cliché in the tugging-on-heartstrings-tear-jerking department.

So, why am I addicted? Why do I set the television channels to Cox 2085 and 2086 beginning Thanksgiving weekend and never look back until January 1? For someone who enjoys the complexity of William Faulkner, the richness of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and the strong storytelling of Barbara Kingsolver, why is it I find myself completely immersed in The Heart of TV?

We need these Hallmark movies. For many, Christmas is stressful, time-consuming, a financial nightmare, and a little melancholy. While I love Christmas and look forward to the season throughout the year, there are days I find myself caught up in the pressures of the holiday. Did I forget anyone on my list? What do we buy your mother? Will I have time to mail out Christmas cards? Damn, I overspent my Christmas budget, again. Ugh, another weekend of Christmas parties when all I want to do is stay home. I forgot to buy stamps! Look at the lines!!

And, while the Christmas movie classics bring us warm moments of nostalgia and childlike laughter, they can also bestow immeasurable sadness with reminders of a childhood long gone or the absence of a loved one. Sure, Hallmark Christmas movies can be cavity-inducing but they can also be somewhat comforting. For two hours, we are provided perfect Christmas moments filled with forgiveness, generosity, love and most importantly, hope. In a Hallmark Christmas world, love does not go on unrequited; overbearing parents reveal their inner fears; children are reunited with families or united with best friends of the four-legged variety; loves lost always return home; longtime wrongs are always righted; love prevails; and all against the backdrop of hope and snow. Lots of snow.

Sure, they’re cheesy and brimming with Christmas miracles, as well as perfectly decorated small towns and the inevitable St. Nick or angel in disguise, but I find it easy to forgive all of the above. These days, Christmas angels and miracles seem fewer and fewer, and as for St. Nick, well, if we find it hard to believe in one another or ourselves, how can we possibly give St. Nick a break. And while I’ve yet to see a storyline involving a minority or gay couple, I remain hopeful (there’s that word, again) each year and know Hallmark will soon right this wrong, as all love should prevail in Hallmark world.

So, give me Hallmark Christmas movies and plenty of them. When the season is at a close and the final kiss is given under the mistletoe between two former flames or once bitter rivals, I’ll be content to hang my Santa hat on hope, no matter how trite or predictable. Christmas without any sign of hope is simply another holiday. And for me, Christmas will never be just another holiday. Christmas will always be a season of hope and love, wherever you can find it, even if just for a moment in a made-for-television Christmas movie.



Welcome, little man

I intended to post every day leading up to the kick-off of the new NFL season, but a little thing like food poisoning got in the way. I’d always thought there were few things in this world to make me want to take my own life, but I discovered Saturday evening that a lovely bout of food poisoning is at the top of the list. It’s a good thing we do not own any firearms. Although, I doubt I’d had the strength to lift the gun. Anyway, I’m better. But don’t think I’ll be ordering any chicken wings in the near future.

And while I fully intended to get back on the NFL track, an incredible miracle happened at 3:50 am. This little man was born.

This is Lucas Michael Petrasek. My great-nephew. My beautiful niece, and god-daughter, Holly, delivered the little dude after 16 hours of labor. And while I’m not one to gush over babies, when I received the photo by text at 4:00 am, I began to cry. I’m not sure why. Possibly the beauty of this birth on, ironically, Labor Day. Perhaps the fact that Holly was told it would be very hard for her to conceive (I guess she showed them). Or mostly because this family, my sister’s family, has endured such heartbreak over the past 4 years that this tiny baby, this little beginning, was much needed. With Lucas, comes hope.

I realize that’s a heavy burden to place on a 7lb 10 oz. baby. Hope. But he is. He is our future. A first child. A first grandchild. A first nephew. A first great-nephew. A first great-grandchild.

And I admit I’m having a hard time with the realization that this little girl who is my god-daughter, the  spiky-haired toddler I held in my arms, the child I helped nurse when she had the chickenpox, the little girl so independent at such a young age with a clear mind of her own is now a mother.

It truly is in these moments that all is right in the world. Welcome, Lucas.