My Hallmark Christmas Movie
I’m the type of person that starts listening to holiday music in October. I try really hard to wait for Halloween, but it’s completely dependent on my current mood (read: stress levels). I do try to wait for Thanksgiving for my second favorite part of the holidays: the movies.
Christmas Vacation, White Christmas, Santa Claus: The Movie, and One Magic Christmas were the classics of my childhood. As a young adult, I had a lot of fun with ABC Family 25 Days of Christmas originals. The one where Christina Milian gets trapped in a snowglobe is an absolute delight and don’t even get me started on the one where Tori Spelling, yes the Donna Martin, leads a mean girls-esque accapella group. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen.
The rebranding from ABC Family to Freeform in 2016 sadly seemed to bring a demise to their original holiday movies and left room for Hallmark to take over the reigns.
I’ve written about the Hallmark holiday movies before. They are problematic. Typically white, typically blonde, typically christian and typically centers around a female who has the gall to have a career. Yet they are also typically light-hearted and satisfying romcoms wrapped in a compact 2 hour package. While wildly predictable they are also completely entertaining.
So this year for my holiday blog post, I am writing a semi-autobiographical take on how Hallmark would write a holiday movie about my life. As I see it, I’m a prime candidate: I have a career and I’m a single so check and check. In Hallmark’s mind, I am in major need of a Santa intervention…a Santa-vention.
(Note: I think this could also work as a reality show. Think the Bachelorette but with all holiday-themed activities and instead of Chris Harrison Santa is the host. Also, there are only home-town dates. Think about it, Hallmark.)
With all that in mind, I present to you:
A Blogger’s Christmas
by Heidi Cat(herine)
Now, where to start…well we only have two hours including commercial breaks so I suppose we just start.
part 1: establishing the lack of holiday spirit
We open with me, Heidi, in an office to establish the fact that I have a…wait for it…a career. I know, I know, it’s jarring start but I promise I’ll turn into a like-able character. Also, not sure if this is the right time, but I’d like to ask Hallmark that I be played by Lacey Chabert. I know they’re going to think Jodie Sweeten is the better fit for this tale, but I think Lacey has shown real depth in her business roles, especially the marketing ones.
So yes, there’s me, Heidi the marketer, in a very stereotypical Corporate America work place. Both are real. I’ve been a marketer for some time and even though my current role is more account management, I still identify as a marketer, and I work for a financial institution. It doesn’t get more corporate.
I’ve likely just ended a meeting with a client who is one of the most difficult clients I have ever had. As I walk out of the conference room, lamenting over how poorly that just went, a co-worker asks about my holiday plans.
“Oh, I’ll be around. I don’t plan on taking any time off,” I respond. The coworker makes a concerned face. “I used all my vacation time for my trip to Iceland for Thanksgiving,” I say trying to justify this transgression. This doesn’t seem to satisfy my co-worker but nonetheless they walk away. We’ve approached my office. It has zero holiday decorations.
I pack up my things to leave work despite the fact that the sun’s still out. Have you ever noticed in these Hallmark movies it is almost always light out? Despite these movies happening during the days with the shortest amount of day light, it is always light out, unless it is very specifically a night-time event, like a Christmas-tree lighting.
When I get home, the camera pans to show off my perfectly decorated West Elm furniture-filled apartment. It is feminine, yet modern. Nothing is out of place. And still no holiday decorations.
Part 2: the call to christmas
The phone rings and the camera shows the caller ID: my grandparents. I take a deep breath and answer the phone. I assume they’ve received the flower arrangement I send each Christmas since they’ve decided they no longer want to deal with the hassle of a tree. This time, the call is different. My grandmother is inviting me home for Christmas. In New England (a true location and also a classic for Hallmark).
At this point, Lacey would demonstrate the perfect expression to show my desire to please my grandparents mixed with the pain of traveling for the holidays and the loss of spending the holidays in the peaceful quiet without family.
Ultimately, I agree to go. Explaining that I may need to do some work while I’m there but will make sure Christmas is a work-free day.
The scene ends with me working on my blog to establish my passion project outside of work though the viewer will see this as more work (which cannot simultaneously exist with holiday spirit in a Hallmark movie).
PART 3: ARRIVING home to a new england town
Fortunately for me, my hometown is one of Hallmark’s favorite settings for a Christmas movie: the generic New England town. It’s always covered in a perfect white layer of snow. It’s also cold enough for there to be snow though no one ever displays the physical discomfort of cold. People are dressed in warm jackets of course but they’re never zipped or buttoned all the way. They also never seem to clench their shoulders or have a runny nose or move quickly to get out of the cold as soon as possible.
Part 4: The Meet Cute
After settling into my grandparents home, I decide to venture out to find a cafe and finish the week’s Christmas blog. The post is about my life as a cheesy Christmas movie (an Inception-style twist I bet you didn’t see coming).
I arrive at cafe that’s always the perfect amount of busy. You don’t have to wait too long for your order and there’s always an empty table in a good spot by the window.
I set up my laptop, put on my glasses, and begin typing away as I sip my latte. Since Hallmark loves an odd couple story, the romantic interest must enter in a way that isn’t quite a meet cute at all, but more a meet someone who is incredibly irritating.
Since we’re in a cafe setting, I’m going to go with the person who has to sit right next to you and starts talking loudly despite there being several other open tables and despite seeing you sitting quietly minding your own business. (This happens to me all the time. Spiritual advisors have told me my energy is very magnetic and it draws people to me and I need to work to contain it. Whether a movie theatre, a cafe, a beach, I will be in the most remote spot in an otherwise empty area and someone will come sit right next to me.)
So here we are. The handsome stranger sits down at the table next to me while talking very loudly on his phone. Visibly irritated, (Lacey will do a great job here), I wait for a break in his phone conversation to ask him to be quiet. I think a “Do you mind?” would work. He ends his conversation and says something about it being a public space. I respond with something witty about public spaces not being playgrounds for rudeness. None of it is creepy because he is good looking and charming during this whole exchange which is only more infuriating.
We need to give the character a name, I’m going with the generic name of Ben.
Part 5: the connection builds
Now at this point of the Hallmark movie, the two characters need something to force some quality time with each other. It’s usually a Christmas activity of some sort - planning a Christmas parade, entering a gingerbread house competition, or saving Santa. Sometimes it’s just that the romantic interest is around when the main character receives some sort of bad news. We’re going to go with the latter here as my holidays don’t ever center around some sort of monumental Christmas activity.
Back to the story and back to the cafe blogging away. Ben walks in and sees me and charmingly refers to the prior conversation and asks if it’s ok to sit at the table next to me. I reply curtly something like “If you must”.
Shortly thereafter, I let out a good old fashioned “No No No No!”, start randomly pounding on buttons, and tilt my head back in frustration. Of course Steven notices and asks what’s wrong. My laptop has just crashed. I’ve lost all my work.
Well wouldn’t you know it, Ben has a friend just down the street who could probably take a look at it for me. This kind gesture in a moment of desperation is the Hallmark equivalent of the knight in shining armor.
We arrive at the friend’s shop and since Ben has bff status he can take a look at my laptop right away but it will probably take some time. He can call me when it’s ready. (He’s a side-character, he doesn’t ever get a name).
Ben suggests we take a walk around the town center to try and forget about the stress. Of course, this is where the connection is formed. We realize we have more in common than we think. We talk about our families, Christmas traditions, our work, and our hopes and dreams. Ben works in publishing. His family runs a small farm so he’s stayed in the area to help out when he can. (Can’t be a good person on your own in Hallmark land. Need to have family interactions to justify it). I talk about my corporate job and share that I’d really just rather be a writer. In fact, I’ve been working on a really personal piece that I just don’t have the guts to publish.
After a good amount of bonding/flirting, I realize I have to go. I told my grandparents I would be home for dinner at a certain time. But oh no my laptop isn’t fixed yet. Ben offers to bring it by once it’s done and he earns himself even more brownie points.
Part 6: the Betrayal
There’s between 10-15 minutes left in the movie when we get the ultimate betrayal. There’s some sort of loss of trust or sharing something with the public that was never meant to be shared.
When Ben picks up the laptop, he does a once-over himself to make sure it’s really working. It is, but then he sees a file labeled something obscure like “Heidi’s Manifest” on the desktop and opens it. He realizes he’s found the article I had referenced earlier. He starts reading it and he’s pulled in. Remember Ben’s in publishing and he thinks it’s incredibly well-written. He sends himself a copy of the file before bringing the laptop back to me.
It’s the next day, when I wake up and my normally quiet phone is blowing up with all sorts of congratulatory messages. I check to see what’s going on and it seems that Ben has published my super secret piece in a major publication. Here Lacey will do a great job of emoting shock, embarrassment, and of course disappointment in Ben.
Part 7: the end
There are now 5 minutes left in the movie. I’ve gone to confront Ben about what happened. But a strange thing happens, my phone is now blowing up with emails from other publishers and publications that want to hire me! All I needed was a man to make my dreams come true so Ben is forgiven. He’s saved me. There is a kiss amongst a wintery Christmas scene as it beings to snow.
And the credits being to roll.
Image by PicJumbo