DC widow blog writer Marjorie Brimley in the kitchen with her father washing dishes
Family & Friends

Hallmark Christmas Movies

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.


  • Melissa

    Although I haven’t watched any Hallmark Christmas movies, there are three movies I try to watch every year. The first is “The Bishop’s Wife” (1947) starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven. Also from 1947, coincidentally the year I was born, is “Miracle on 34th St.” with Maureen O’Hara, 9-year-old Natalie Wood, John Payne, and Edmund Gwenn as Santa Claus. Both movies have humor, magic and warmth.

    Rounding out this trifecta of great Christmas movies is “A Christmas Carol” (1984) starring George C. Scott as the ultimate Scrooge. My husband and I always kept this one for Christmas Eve when it was just the two of us. Frank Finley is also wonderful as the ghost of Jacob Marley, Scrooge’s partner. When Scrooge says “But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,” Marley bellows “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!” Wise words to remember for the times we live in. Merry Christmas to you and yours, Marjorie!

  • D B

    We stick with (the 1964 claymation) “Rudolph”, the “Little Drummer Boy” from the same era, and “A Christmas Carol” (lots versions, but I’m partial to Patrick Stewart). Not too much romance in any of them.

  • Courtney

    Haha! I love this unknown side of Tom. I bet your mom would have made fun of him too. Also, there is so much sparkle this time of year that has ZERO to do with romance! Hope some of it fluttered your way. XOXO

    • Marjorie

      OMG, I know it’s hilarious to people who know my dad otherwise. We DID end up watching a Hallmark movie together….and it was terrible. And he loved it!

  • Carmelita

    I think your dad loves these Hallmark movies because they remind him of what he did have: a beautiful, romantic,old-fashioned, storybook deep love. ( I say this based on what I’ve read here about him.) And I think everybody reading this blog has experienced some part of this Wonderful romantic love. Or we wouldn’t care. We wouldn’t be missing our spouses so much! ! Happy new decade to all of us – Wow!

  • Sue Mills

    Marjorie, this article involving your Dad made me smile. My daughter Stephanie was on your cheerleading squad at West. I got to know your Dad mostly while Lindsay was doing gymnastics and track at West. I won’t forget his comment about Lindsay and track and lamenting that she should take up golf. You have been thru hell, your Dad has done what he knows is the right thing and you all are pulling together. Hugs to you for all that. About the Hallmark movies, I agree with the mindless warmth they bring in this world of craziness. And yes, if you are in a dark place, holidays are just plain ugly. You sound like you are surrounded by caring, loving people and that is the best thing in the world. Tell Tom “hi” and hugs to you all.
    Sue Mills