If you’re an avid reader of my blog, you may feel like you know my dad from his straightforward statements about life and his obvious character choices, such as deciding to help raise my kids, “because it’s the right thing to do.”
But you may not know this about him: he loves Hallmark movies. And what are the best movies of all, in his opinion?
Hallmark Christmas movies!
My sister and I mercilessly make fun of him for this. I’ve pointed out that the only other person I know who loves Hallmark movies like he does is my 10-year-old daughter, and even she understands that they are all basically the same. There are entire newspaper articles that disparage the sappy elements Hallmark movies and hilarious memes that are currently circulating on every one of my social media pages that mock the themes in these movies.
But just in case you don’t know, here’s the plot line of every Hallmark Christmas movie ever: High powered lawyer from the big city must return home to care for her widowed father. While there, she meets a small-town shop owner who teaches her about “what really matters.” She falls in love with him on Christmas Eve and celebrates Christmas Day with her father and new boyfriend. She moves back home to her small town, obviously, and gives up her career for love.
I mean, you can change the details, but that’s basically every single one of them.
I hate them, in a way. I hate how they minimize the awesomeness of working women (to say nothing of their drab and usually all-white and all-heterosexual main characters.) I hate that they are formulaic. I hate that they glamorize small towns over big cities, even though I love my small hometown.
But mostly, I hate that the key takeaway is this: to be happy, you need to have a romantic partner at Christmas.
I mean, it’s not just Hallmark that does this. It’s easy to slam Hallmark, because they are the worst offenders, but doesn’t every single Christmas movie do this? And most Christmas music? And lots of Christmas websites and stores and cards and God knows what else?
I mean, it’s like the whole world wants to remind me: remember, you need romance to have a really great Christmas!
Well, great. As if this holiday isn’t already horribly fraught for me, now I have to feel even worse that the only man I ever loved is dead and I am unable to meet anyone else that even holds a candle to him, which means (according to the world around me) that I’ll never be truly happy at Christmas.
My solution to all of this has been to not watch any Christmas movies. My dad, on the other hand, loves them.
“I love Hallmark movies, and the Christmas movies are the best!” my dad said when I asked him. “They always have a happy ending, which I love.”
“But, Dad,” I said, “doesn’t it seem a bit ironic that you love these movies that are all about being in love, and yet your own wife is gone?”
“Well,” he said, “I still like them. I appreciate them because they remind me of when your mom was alive. I was lucky to find her.”
I kept pushing, but my dad remained steadfast. He actually enjoys those movies. He loves how they make him feel.
It was an interesting conversation. Try as I might to convince him that they are terrible, he focused on the good. “Okay, they’re schmaltzy,” he finally admitted, “but there’s so much crap in this world. I’ve seen really terrible stuff as a physician – abuse, drugs, death – and with the Hallmark movies, I can escape. And I can remember the happier times. I love that.”
I mean, it’s amazing that my dad still likes Hallmark movies after everything he’s experienced. It’s amazing that he can still find the good in something that is – let’s be honest here – basically crap.
But I love that about him. And this Christmas, I think I may just sit down and watch one with him. I’ll make fun of it the whole time. But he will be smiling. And that will make me happy.
So, in a way, I love Hallmark movies too. Not for what they are. But for how they make my dad feel:
Image Credit: Stefanie Harrington Photography.