Dear Hallmark channel,
It’s that time of the year again! You’ve announced your holiday movie lineup and the angels sang and snow began to fall and visions of sugar plums danced in my head. Okay, so that all happened in my mind’s eye but I definitely felt my heart go pitter-patter as I scanned the list of new releases. All over Facebook there are giddy posts from friends who eagerly anticipate this annual tradition and can’t wait for the chance to escape to worlds where people get stranded in little towns where Santa just happens to have his actual workshop and there won’t be any gifts for the children if the main character doesn’t come to the rescue.
Or where women feel the pressure to bring home a significant other for Christmas so they hire someone as a fill-in boyfriend only to find that they really are actually falling in love. Or girl/boy returns to small hometown and bumps into their high school sweetheart and, even though she/he is there to tear down the local factory, they rekindle their romance and she/he is able to save the town from bankruptcy.
But, I have to confess something to you Hallmark channel. This year I’m feeling just a little less enthusiastic. I think it has to do with how I felt at the end of last year’s holiday season. I am pretty sure that I watched every single movie and yet each time I was left with the sense that something was missing, something was lacking.
And as I reflected on that feeling I thought about all of the Hallmark movies that are my most favorite. Movies like ‘Sarah, Plain and Tall’ and ‘The Magic of Ordinary Days’. What was it about those movies that left me feeling so much more satisfied than any of the recent ones in the holiday lineup?
I think that, at its core, what I’ve felt is a desire for something deeper, something a bit less candy-coated and more of a reflection of real life. The Hallmark movies I love the most are filled with characters who have more troubles than just having their car break down in the middle of the North Pole. Their lives are more complex, more challenging, more like well, my own life.
You see the reason I particularly love the ‘Sarah, Plain and Tall’ series so much is because there was hardship and loss and pain and yet it was so beautifully weaved into a love story. And that love story resonated more with me in the end because they didn’t magically fall in love with each other in three days and live happily ever after.
It’s not that I don’t see the need for an opportunity to escape a bit. To be transported to a world where you might find yourself trapped in a snow globe which is really an alternate universe that gives you a glimpse of what your life would be like if you had made different choices.
But, Hallmark channel, would it be so hard to temper the sticky sweet by adding a little bit more of the bittersweet to the story line?
Ecclesiastes 7:14 says, “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other.”
The older I get and the more I mature in my life and in my faith, the more I realize just how much beauty there is in the mess and how much sweeter the good times are because I’ve tasted the bitterness of the hard times. It is a foregone conclusion that our lives will contain both and so I have grown to embrace them knowing how each adds depth.
Don’t get me wrong, I definitely love a happy ending and I would definitely be disappointed if all of Hallmark’s movies suddenly turned into tragic sob stories.
But, maybe there could be a bit more of a balance.
I’m not really sure how many of the newly released holiday movies I’ll be watching this year. Oh sure, I’ll probably have the channel on while I wrap gifts. And I will keep an open mind because you just never know when you’ll come across a gem!
But, I think I might just have to go back and see if I can dig up some of those original Hallmark movies. They might not have a candy cane lane or an undercover Santa, but perhaps instead they will more accurately capture the essence of the season.
A season which celebrates peace and joy and that moment in history when love came down in the form of an infant.
Hallmark channel, thank you for always offering us wholesome entertainment. I know you might be hesitant to mess with a seemingly good thing, but I promise you that we can handle it.
We can handle the heartfelt mixed with the heartache, the merry with melancholy. Because out of all of the emotions, one emerges stronger than the rest.
And, in our world today I believe that is the one thing we can all agree we need to see a little bit more of, wouldn’t you agree?
May your days be merry and bright,