The Sunday Magazine- Hallmark Channel Countdown to Christmas

One of the really wonderful things about this time of year is I think even the most Scrooge-y of us allow the opportunity for hope to catch a foothold. People smile more freely at each other. Because I wear a Santa hat from the day after Thanksgiving through Christmas I might get a few more of those than others. One of the things that happens during the season that has stealthily found a foothold in my heart is something else which takes place from Thanksgiving through Christmas, the Hallmark Channel Countdown to Christmas.

Starting on the weekend after Thanksgiving the Hallmark Channel shows made-for-tv movies about Christmas 24/7. The movies are all sweet fables about the season with happy endings and I find myself shedding a tear or two more often that I’d readily admit. These are as schmaltzy as ugly Christmas sweater contests but they carry that unfashionable emotion so unapologetically it makes it cool.

There are many common themes which crop up in multiple movies. There are lots of department stores in trouble but because they understand the meaning of Christmas they persevere and thrive by the time the end credits roll. Santa is trying to pass on the family business to his son and his progeny has to leave the North Pole to find his happiness so he can take over for Dad. He does and Christmas is saved. Many city dwellers are thrust into rustic surroundings with equally charming Holiday traditions which make the fish out of water character flail about helplessly until one of the townspeople, of the opposite sex, shows them the magic of Christmas. Love is what Christmas is all about. The non-believer being made to believe. Besides Santa’s son a few elves make their way into the world to share North Pole wisdom. There are angels aplenty helping spread joy. There are at least two movies which represent each of those descriptions I listed above. Originality is not the goal; feeling good is; and familiarity helps make that happen a little easier.

hallmark countdown to xmas

The movies cover a lot of time and they are fun because each one is a little time capsule. Just watching the evolution of cell phones over the course of watching the movies is a source of amusement. The hot young stars of the moment are the actors most often used. This leads to a game in our household where Mrs. C and I try and remember what show they were on when they were in the film. IMDB and Wikipedia are our arbiters on who remembered best.

Because this is Hallmark Channel they could be way more egregious in how they use their captive audience. So far this year I have only seen one clear cross-promotion. The little commercials about using a card to mark a special occasion with the tag line “Life is Special” are almost 60-second versions of the movies they are giving us a break from. I applaud Hallmark for getting that a viewer doesn’t need to be bombarded and keeping their merchandising low key.

Especially over the last two weeks leading up to Christmas I can say that Hallmark Channel is what we are watching if the television is on. It has become as much a part of my Holiday season as egg nog and mistletoe. When you need a break flip over to Hallmark Channel and take a two-hour break with an uplifting story about Christmas.

Mark Behnke