Carrie On the Holidays: Bring On the Cheesy Christmas Movies, Hallmark.

Ellen: You set standards that no family activity can live up to.

Clark: When have I ever done that?

Ellen: Parties, weddings, anniversaries, funerals, holidays, vacations, graduations…

–National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

lampoonsSo the Christmas spirit has caught me a little early this year. We went to a Christmas event at church this afternoon, had hot chocolate, pulled an angel off the angel tree, and bid (unsuccessfully) on silent auction baked goods. While I’m a little sore about not coming home with the 150 frozen homemade appetizers or the heaven-sent homemade sourdough bread braid, I’m still in the Christmas mood. Even Jeff discussed hanging our outside Christmas lights. Something is in the air.

It’s during this season that I set aside some of my snark and sass and just embrace the idea that…the holidays possess magic. There’s no other way to say it. People are nicer to each other, more willing to give, more willing to serve their fellow man, more inclined to put aside differences and celebrate the idea that we are human and we want to be happy and, though we’re often selfish through most of the year, we would like others to be happy, too.

Last night I started my annual holiday movie DVR-fest. Last year, one of my friends Melissa posted on Facebook about her love of cheesy Christmas movies, so I have, therefore, deemed it safe to come out of the Hallmark closet as well. Does Jeff roll his eyes? Yes. Do I care? Nah. Will he (sometimes) risk the icky-sweetness in order to spend two hours with me on the couch watching a sappy Hallmark Christmas movie? Yep.

It is the universal feeling of goodwill that inspires the, ahem, great writers of the Hallmark Channel and other similar ventures to write movies in which the magic of Christmas saves all. It brings estranged couples back together, it joins a spunky New York gal with a downhome North Carolina boy who never would’ve met each other otherwise, it unites small towns who are sick of those darn cityfolk coming in with their crazy high-rise condos, and it (oh my gosh I can barely type this) brings sick children joy with their parents for one last Christmas.
I soak it all up. Like Clark Griswold, who in my mind, is an Everyman with a pinch of “how is this guy’s luck so bad?… but it’s really funny,” I think we all, in one way or another, tend to romanticize what the reality of Christmas actually is. In our real lives, we want the Norman Rockwell ideal, but more often we get the Clark Griswold train wreck. Families are messy…and the magic of Christmas brings the beautiful mess out in all of us…somehow. And Hallmark is smart enough realize that every movie needs a little Griswold before it’s tied into a Rockwell bow at the end.
So around this time each year, I search the upcoming TV listings for the word “Christmas” and go to town. Though I couldn’t possibly get through every tired plot line I record, I feel something in the attempt, the absolute effort it took to pull for the woman who was so burned by her last relationship that she didn’t even realize that Santa was the tree salesman and he was playing matchmaker for her with the widower and his adorable little girl who needs a new mother. Yep…a tiny tear just trickled.
Here, I humbly submit my lists of holiday movies good, bad, and Hallmark.
Yes, Please! (acceptable Hallmark plot lines)
  1. Wedding Christmas movies
  2. Reluctant CEOs who slow down and find the power of love and Christmas
  3. People who switch houses for Christmas (often because they are reluctant CEOs)…like The Holiday, a Kate Winslet/Cameron Diaz 2006 classic where KW ends up with Jack Black…what?!?)
  4. The 12 Men of Christmas. Too-cute Kristin Chenoweth creates a hot guy calendar and (reluctantly) falls for Mr. December.
  5. 12 Christmases. Amy Smart and Zack Morris from Saved by the Bell. This movie is like Groundhog Day and A Christmas Carol had a baby. See a “12” theme emerging here?
  6. Anything with a Christmas deadline: married by Christmas, a boyfriend by Christmas, one girl’s choice of keeping the winning lottery ticket or…choosing love (reluctantly) by Christmas
No, Thank You. (plot lines I can’t watch at Christmas…maybe ever)
  1. Talking animals. People, I am willing to suspend my disbelief only so far. Santa as matchmaker? Sure. Two talking dogs who get their masters together…at Christmas? Um, no. I’m an adult. I only watch talking dog movies with my kids.
  2. Any modern version of A Christmas Carol that doesn’t involve George C. Scott, or on a good day, Bill Murray. I don’t want to see pop star divas, over-worked reality TV stars, disgruntled soccer moms, or Kathy Griffin see their past, present, or future if they don’t change their selfish ways.
  3. Movies about spending the last Christmas with a sick parent/grandparent/love that should’ve had longer/especially a sick child. I’ve tried this, and I’m just too sensitive about it. I can’t spend two hours and intermittently over the next five days bursting into tears over the sick child in Ohio whose parents hoped she made it to Dec. 25.
    1. There is a subplot going around Hallmark that involves towns coming together to create a last Christmas for a sick child except it’s a few months early, like October or November. No thanks. You and your box of tissues have a blast.
    2. In short, unless the description says that Santa, dressed as a doctor, with his ER nurses Donner and Blitzen, saves the child at the end, I’m out.

Carrie’s Must-See Holiday Movies that Need No Further Introduction.

  1. White Christmas (1954)
  2. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
  3. Love Actually (2003)
  4. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
  5. The Family Stone (2005)
It’s safe to say that I am ready for all the sappy, romantic, sweet, heart-tugging movies that go along with the Christmas season. Curling up on the couch with a sweet movie or having it on in the background as I wrap presents is one of my ways to enjoy the season in all its magic and wonder. I cry when Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye reveal the snow outside, and when Clarence gets his wings, and when Billy Mack tells his manager he would rather spend Christmas with him than at Elton John’s fancy party, and when Clark Griswold’s crazy house lights finally work, and at all the awkward family mess throughout The Family Stone. And all the rest of those cheesy Christmas movies? Bring it, Hallmark. I’m ready for you.

2 thoughts on “Carrie On the Holidays: Bring On the Cheesy Christmas Movies, Hallmark.

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