Since late November, I’ve watched several Christmas movies. And by several I mean more than twenty. And by watched I mean caught snippets, previews, or chunks of movies as I went about my day. Some people have ear buds permanently attached to their heads; I’ve got the TV playing in the background of my life providing the white noise of distraction.
It would be sooo easy to pull the whole cynic act (and trust me I do a great cynic) about the sappiness of the movies. You can see the happily-ever-after ending miles before the closing credits. The idyllic, not always snowy scene opens with a bustling streetscape or lovely two-storey farmhouse with veranda or boardroom in a Manhattan office tower. If you find the thought of a green–as in no snow?Christmas unnerving, don’t worry. I guarantee delicate little flakes will fall before It’s over.
It’s also a safe bet that the heroine’s name will be Noel, Joy or Holly. The older male star will be Chris (as in Kringle). If there isn’t a marriage as part of the plot-line, there is surely love, usually lost and re-found, as the main subtext of the story. Redemption is another strong storyline as the over-working, family-ignoring, hard-hearted executive with a drinking problem or black-sheep history sees the light. Think Scrooge.
If we’re lucky, there is a boy and a dog involved?as in Christmas with Tucker. I could identify with this one because of the rural setting, the severity of the weather, and the work ethic required with this lifestyle.
Other movies are set at the North Pole, in a toy or Christmas ornament factory, or in a large department store. In Finding Mrs. Claus, Santa treks to Las Vegas in search of his wife. Apparently even marriages several hundred years old need reinvigoration every so often.
The notion of swapping houses during the holidays is repeated in The Holiday and Trading Christmas. Naturally, love follows for the widowed and the heart-broken.
There is no shortage of buffoons, red necks, or competitive Christmas decorating maniacs. Over-the-top light displays, ugly sweaters, and the stereotypical Christmas- threw-up-in-here look abound. In-laws usually figure prominently.
So, even though the settings, the plotline, and the players may not be something I can recognize in my own life, I’ve come to love this cornucopia of holiday movies. Maybe It’s the hope they offer; the possibility of a Christmas miracle. Maybe It’s the exaggeration of the characters portrayed: the badness of the bad guys, the virtue of the good guys. The notion that, deep down, the only thing any of us really wants is someone to love and someone to love us. How that looks for each of us, in our own non-celluloid lives, is up to us to determine.
My wish for you is the Christmas of your dreams spent with the ones you love. Hopefully, that includes a few movies, from where I sit.
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.