With this post, my man card is in danger. I get it. I might be required to turn over my card to the authorities, becoming a laughing stock among my male peers. As punishment, I may be forced to attend a Pampered Chef party.
Fair enough. Let’s get it over with.
Here we go: I love Hallmark Christmas movies. I watched 18 of them last year. Eight. Teen.
Once, several years ago, after checking into a hotel for an upcoming speaking engagement, I turned on the TV to watch either the deciding game of baseball’s World Series or a Sunday night NFL matchup between Green Bay and Denver. The Packers and Broncos were both undefeated. A showdown. Peyton against Aaron.
But it was also the night of Hallmark’s first Christmas premier of the season.
My decision? I watched the games during Hallmark commercials.
So, here’s my man card. Do with it what you wish.
And as we begin this confession, it’s also fair of anyone to ask why I’m admitting this on a site called “1st Faith.” Aren’t I supposed to be writing about . . . ummm, Faith? So, if you’re looking for the next great spiritual insight, you may not find it here.
Or, you might.
With the mea culpa out of the way then, let’s look at five reasons why I love Hallmark Christmas movies:
#5: Hallmark Christmas Movies Are Drama-Free, Politics-Free, Agenda-Free, Worry-Free Escapes
Yes, we know the plot line and the ending of any Hallmark Christmas movie before we meet the second main character.
If our first main character lives in a big city, he/she is headed to a small town where he/she will fall in love with an old flame, a former nemesis or the defender of an historic location threatened by—may God help us—a condo development.
That’s the extent of the drama. I don’t worry about psychopaths, heart-stopping thrills or dramatic, tear-jerking plot twists. In every Hallmark movie I know—from the beginning—a miscommunication will take place approximately one hour, thirty-nine and a half minutes into the movie.
And, any misconceptions get resolved by the 1:57 mark, leading to reconciliation and the joyous kiss at 1:59.
Then, we run the credits and get ready for the next movie. No stress, no worries.
Better news? The only political references in Hallmark Christmas movies come when we meet the local mayor who loves the Christmas festival, serves his quaint town with selfless devotion, with no aspirations for higher office. Why would he or she want to leave Christmasburg, anyway?
(And they don’t tell me what to believe, either)
One more thing. Hallmark movies have no agendas. Viewers receive no social statements and no causes we must engage in. Except of course, setting right those darned condo builders. But if I get past the angst over condos, I’m good.
Oh, and there are no real villains in Hallmark Christmas movies. Even the “bad” boyfriends or girlfriends about to be dumped to make way for the new romance are mostly decent people who just don’t “fit” in the lives of our main character.
Admittedly, some of these future exes don’t like animals or are too wrapped up in business deals, but that’s the extent of things. We don’t have to hate anyone. That’s refreshing.
I don’t have to overthink these movies. I can kick back, laugh at the plot—without paying close attention to every line of dialogue. Since I already know what’s going to happen, I can go with the flow. My beliefs aren’t challenged or mocked, and good always wins in the end.
#4: Hallmark Introduces Me to the Me I Want to Be
In any Hallmark Christmas Movie, one of the main characters stresses over something which doesn’t matter in the big picture. Our future hero is so focused on bottom lines, getting that promotion or meeting a deadline, there’s no room for love, laughter, joy or experiencing the wonders of the Christmas season.
In real life, I can be him. I’m crunching the family budget, looking to figure out how to get through financial challenges and thinking—too often—of the next project.
For me, it’s easy to go into 7-day work week mode. There’s always something needing done to keep up with social media, write the next publication, build my speaking calendar. In addition, I’m on planes or in hotels nearly six months of the year. I stress over travel, so moving from city to city keeps the heart rate high if I’m not careful.
But I want to be that guy whose only concern is preparing the sleigh for the town’s Christmas festival, or always has an extra hour to stop by the coffee shop and yuk it up with Joe or Debbie behind the counter, then help out kids building a gingerbread house.
“Kirk, that’s not reality!” someone may tell me. Believe me, I know. But it ought to be. And by the way, Jesus had time for people. Always.
Hallmark shows me—in its own way—this is possible. I just need to focus on people and not stuff.
#3: Hallmark Christmas Movies Give Me a Glimpse into the Kingdom of Heaven
Really, they do. For a second, think about what God’s kingdom might be like. No rushing. We’ll have all the time in the world to connect with each other. We’ll be thrilled with simple things we so easily overlook in this life.
I don’t know if there will be Gingerbread House contests or a Christmas festivals of lights, but if there are, I’m guessing we’ll have a blast (I’m not sure how we all win every contest, but we’ll let God figure that one out).
And throughout our time in this kingdom, we’ll see reconciliations—just like when a Hallmark couple resolves “the big misunderstanding” and comes together in the end.
In God’s kingdom, there will be joy, smiles, laughter and incredible unity, built by love—just like in Hallmark’s small towns and yet-to-be-named foreign lands.
The cynic will tell me where I’m wrong, but whatever. Give me a Hallmark movie and I see a tiny slice of kingdom life. When the movie ends, I’m wanting more.
#2: Hallmark Shows Me What “Love Your Neighbor” Looks Like
Jesus taught us only two big commands. The first? Love God with all we’ve got. The second, Jesus said, is like the first: Love your neighbor as yourself.
Hallmark is full of good neighbors. When a TV star crashes her car in the woods and develops amnesia, the local doctor—who happens to be a widower with a sweet daughter and son—takes her into his home, sets her up in a gorgeous private bedroom, provides her with perfectly-fitting clothes once belonging to his late wife, and nurses her back to health.
Thankfully, she falls in love with him—but he was just being a good guy, he would have done this for anyone.
If someone’s car breaks down, the fix-it guy is always open and hey, no charge! It’s Christmas, after all.
Hallmark’s characters make free cookies for friends, pitch in at the soup kitchen, give Christmas gifts to struggling families and support “the local charity” year after year. They save local businesses without thought of anything in return, volunteer to revive the local baking contest and raise money for families trying to save their homes, especially those homes in danger from those dastardly condo developers.
Cheesy? Sure. But maybe, just maybe, I need to be cheesier when a friend needs my help.
#1: Hallmark Christmas Movies Show us that Anyone, at Any Time, Can Make One Decision Which Changes Everything
In Hallmark-land, it’s normal fare for a down-on-her-luck hotel housekeeper to make a snap decision to leave New York for a job as the nanny for the daughter of the king—THE KING, I TELL YA!— of Monserrat.
We don’t know exactly why she made this decision. But you know what happens? She and the king—a widower, by the way—fall in love and at the 1:59 mark (the kiss moment), we realize this ordinary young lady will become the first U.S.-born queen of this mighty land with its rich history and 235 loyal citizens.
Even better, she finds love. And, the king’s daughter has a mom once again.
All because of her decision to take a chance on something different and new.
Will my one decision rally the small town and save the local toy factory? I don’t know. But I do know that outside of Hallmark movies, God sees the hurting and struggling and says, “Just give Me a chance. Just one chance. Let’s show everyone what we can do, together.”
Hallmark—even with its predictability—reminds me that whatever we are facing, from whatever station of life we’re in . . . one choice at the right time might change my world—and could bring hope to others, too.
Laugh at me then, when I wear my Hallmark movie-watching tee shirt. I don’t mind. No apologies, no excuses.
I like ‘em. This year, my family and I will gather around the TV, pull the latest premier on our DVR and soak in the drippy, cheesy, sentimental, small-town atmosphere which endears us to these artistic masterpieces.
We’ll laugh as Hallmark shows us six inches of snow in Memphis at Christmas, which has not happened since—ever. We’ll chuckle as an entire town in Iowa gathers for the Christmas Festival of Lights—the biggest event for miles around—and we can only count fourteen Hollytown citizens in attendance.
Will we care when Hallmark tests our common sense? No. Because we’ll be together. We’ll wear our Hallmark tee shirts and sweatshirts. We may even drink some hot cocoa out of our Hallmark mugs.
At the end, our children will turn to Jennifer and me and wonder, “Are they actually going to cry?”
I won’t speak for Jenn, but my lip will likely quiver, just a little. And I might have to wipe away a tear.
It’s Hallmark, after all.
Check out our Hallmark Store here–a portion of proceeds go to Operation Christmas Child