Christmas in the Time of COVID: Hallmark Holidays


I am not a big TV watcher, generally watch news channels or those true murder programs where the the Little League coach kills his wife so he can marry the teenaged babysitter, and is caught because he went to Walmart and bought a tarp and a shovel and some rope and a gasoline can, and left the receipt in the car the day before the murder.  (Note: Always toss the receipt).
In this time of COVID, I have not done any holiday decorating, and was having trouble mustering up some “cheer,” but I discovered that if I tune the TV to the Hallmark Channel and leave it on all day, in my peripheral vision, one part of the room “looks” like Christmas. Every scene of every Hallmark movie includes a Christmas tree, or snow, or holiday sweaters, or gingerbread and hot chocolate.
In case you are a movie aficionado and have not explored the depth of these movies, you really should watch one. They are mindless and simple, filled with flirtation and decorations, and if you get off track and don’t see the end of one, just catch the next one because the stories sort of morph together and it seems that they have a troupe of actors who switch roles for the different movies. In general, they have no plot, and even the non-white people look like they are darker shades of white. Everyone is beautiful in a homogenized Barbie and Ken way. And all of their clothes come from the same racks at The Mall. Or maybe the Burlington Coat Factory.
The storylines do not really build or have conflict or a climax or a resolution because, as I said, everyone is happy, dressed warmly in turtlenecks and overcoats and scarves. Lots of scarves. And they love Christmas.
So, last night, a Hallmark movie was just the ticket for holiday cheer. I don’t remember the name of the flick, but it could have been any of the titles listed above, so I will give you the overview of AnyHallmarkMovieEver.
You need to understand that no one in any of these movies works at any kind of job, because they all have spend the month of December getting the town ready for Christmas. I take that back: the Black couple owns the  “tinker” shop, and the Very Handsome Grandson lives with his grandmother, and they “own” the library, which is the first floor of their house. They host story-time every morning with the children of the town – who don’t evidently go to actual school. 
And all of these stories are in places where no one has heard of COVID, so that is an added pleasant nostalgic bonus.
The working-aged people all spend their time decorating trees on the Main Street or practicing Christmas carols for the nightly events where six to ten people walk into other people’s nicely decorated homes. The homeowners are evidently are not real Evergreen Vermont residents because the real townspeople  are all doing the singing- so I am not sure who these people are but suppose the Evergreeners might carpool to the neighboring town that lacks in its own Christmas cheer. Of course, the Very Handsome Grandson plays one chord on the guitar while everyone sings joyfully and then they drink hot chocolate at every house. 
The next morning it begins again in a Groundhog Day way, at the coffee shop where everyone eats pancakes and Christmas cookies… and plans the day’s holiday events. 
This goes on for a long time – maybe three weeks – leading up to Christmas.  
So okay, there is a little plot. 
A stranger, a pretty, young woman, comes to town to get away from The City, (but it takes a while to remember which one she is because all the young women look alike and dress alike).  BUT,  come to find out, she is a journalist ,and decides to write a story about The Town That Loves Christmas. Of course everyone is suspicious of her, because she might be just there to write a hit piece on The Town That Loves Christmas and ruin it all. (Because that is what a liberal journalist from The City would do.) 
And just when she starts to fall in love with the Very Handsome Grandson in the home-owned library, he finds a page of her story on the community printer in his living room. This paragraph of her draft article questions the validity of the Evergreen community holiday spirit. And the town turns against her, but within two minutes they have all come to love her again, because it appears that she really does have the Christmas spirit, so much so, that she gets to turn on the Christmas tree lights on the town square. The romantic tension heats up when the Very Handsome Grandson has to brush a snowflake from the nose of the Journalist.
Alas, she has to go back to The City to live her life, and I suppose, file her story. The Very Handsome Grandson comes to The City the day before Christmas to tell her that Evergreen misses her, and takes her back to Vermont on a train that is red with gold trim and no grafitti or dirt; and they all stand around the lighted tree on the town square on Christmas Eve night, wearing colorful wool coats and scarves and turtleneck sweaters, and hold hands and sing.
Throughout the entire movie, no one drinks anything but hot chocolate on the street, and fancy coffee drinks in the cafe.  
If you are not familiar with this genre, you might be thinking, “But surely, they have a mass shooting at the Christmas tree lighting” and “Do you think the Christmas train will crash on its way back from The City?” but no one is ever murdered and even the grandmother in the home-owned library doesn’t die of a natural cause. 
By the end of the movie, you may be wondering what sort of people watch these movies. You might be tempted to rewrite the movie to have at least a dead body show up at the end, or find out that the very Very Handsome Grandson is really a child predator, or that everyone in the town is in the Witness Protection Program.
And, what if the liberal journalist really did write a “hit piece” on The Town That Loved Christmas? How would that ruin it? 
I was kind of hoping for a shaggy folksinger and a hooker. But they never showed up. And no one even almost shot his eye out with a Christmas BB gun.
It  is Christmas in Hallmarkville, and everyone is perfect.  And, I do like the scarves and warm coats.
Maybe these really are scary movies, after all if your greatest fears are of a place where everyone is healthy and happy, and community spirit abounds and no one has to work, and everyone kind of becomes the same color in kind of an equal way, and they all  hold hands and sing and make  snowmen and of course, snowwomen in the town square, and no one is poor – or rich, or sick or worried.   And these movies are sort of addicting. So what if they won’t ever win an Oscar. Sometimes, it is nice to just breathe, and escape to Evergreen.
After a few glasses of Very Good Wine and one Hallmark movie (so far),  I am in the holiday spirit for 2020. 
If you need me, I’ll be drinking hot chocolate, and watching another movie. And wishing everyone a Very Merry Holiday Season.

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