The Christmas Chronicles: Made-for-TV Christmas Movies

Source of image: Pinterest

Okay, so confession time here: I love watching Christmas holiday movies. Not the blockbusters with the famous names, expensive directors and ample funding (although I like those too), but rather: the ‘B’ movies; the really cheesy ones. You know what I’m talking about: there is a whole channel dedicated to them and if you are a true fan, they start sometime around the beginning of November.

The movies are always set in a fictive, picturesque little village that must be frozen perpetually in time, else, why would they name their town ‘Christmas Tree Hollow’ or ‘Silent Night Village’? The heroines have names like ‘Holly’ and ‘Noelle’ and the handsome fellows they have their eye on, are all named ‘Nick’ or ‘Chris’. Every single house; every single street; every single store; indeed, every single vehicle, is artfully decorated with vintage Christmas decorations that all have a story to tell. Many of these decorations also carry magical powers. Everyone in the village knows and dearly loves one another. The characters live on streets with names such as ‘Mistletoe Lane’ or ‘Evergreen Way’. The entire town always works cohesively to plan the yearly ‘Yuletide Ball’ or the ‘Christmas Carol Extravaganza’.

The children – to a one – act like miniature adults: they are well-spoken, well behaved and they always love helping their parents out. The little girls wear pretty festive dresses and the little boys all wear ties. These kids – even the teenagers (!!!) – never sulk, throw a temper tantrum or talk back to their elders. Adolescent hormones are strangely missing in Movie Christmas Land.

Every single house contains at least a dozen beautifully decorated Christmas trees as well as a small fortune in garland and live poinsettias. Everyone makes – and eats – tons of exquisitely-decorated cookies that would have taken hours to make (although the ‘baking’ scene never lasts more than a few minutes). It goes without saying but I will say it anyway: no matter how many cookies they eat, no one ever gains an ounce. To be perfectly fair, though, this may be because you never see anyone take more than a single bite of said cookies before they move on to a new scene in the movie.

There is always snow on the ground (although somehow, the snow never forms wet, dirty slush underfoot like it does in non-fictive towns and cities) and the sky is always the wrong colour blue (real winter skies are gray and watery looking). The trees – still in full leaf – are carefully covered with some type of artificial snow or they are blurred a little so their summer foliage melts greenly into the background. The curtains in the finely-decorated houses are always drawn so you cannot see that in reality, the actors shot the movie in the middle of summer, likely during a heat wave.

This also explains how the heroines can walk around in pretty – and beautifully handknit – winter hats while wearing nothing but a turtle neck, designer jeans and ‘winter’ boots with ridiculously high heels that no woman who comes from a cold climate would ever dream of wearing to walk in real snow.

There is always a looming disaster that always involves the potential cancelation of Christmas (which has no religious overtones whatsoever). Sometimes, it comes in the form of a rich, powerful businessperson who is threatening to destroy the character of the town by razing its lovely centre so they can put in a mall, or condominiums (at Christmastime, of course). Sometimes, it is the annual Christmas festival that is in imminent danger of being shut down ‘forever’. Sometimes, the tension comes in the form of a handsome young man or woman who has come home to visit for the holidays – usually reluctantly – only to be bedazzled by a pretty young widow or an old flame from high school. Occasionally, a rich prince from a country no one has ever heard of comes to visit the quaint little town (anonymously, of course) and falls in love with the stunningly beautiful young shop girl who spends all her free time rescuing puppies and feeding her elderly neighbours. Although he is famous worldwide, no one ever recognises the prince until the very end.

There is no sex (ever) but the pretty young woman and the handsome young man always share a chaste kiss at the end. And – this is important – snow always starts to fall – to their mutual wonderment – just as their lips finally meet.

Lastly, spoiler alert: no matter how dire the circumstances may appear to the worried viewer, the ending is always, always a happy one. Parents resolve the terrible problem their child was grappling with. The cruel and greedy business owner who was ready to destroy the little town in order to line their own pockets has a complete change of heart and becomes the village’s rich and generous benefactor – in perpetuity. The successful art dealer from the city, reluctantly visiting their ailing Mom, realises that they have been pursuing the wrong dream all along and opts to move back to the quaint little village in order to live in a Christmas fantasy forever. The prince really does marry the poor shop girl and it goes without saying that they’ll live happily ever after.

A few years ago, the channel that used to offer the two-month Christmas movie extravaganza started offering such movies all year round: for Valentine’s Day, Spring, Christmas-in-July, Thanksgiving and a great many more utterly improbable reasons. That was just too much for me: I like my romantic, unrealistic, always-a-happy-ending movies for a few months but that much year-round unreality was more than my poor brain could handle. As a result, for several years, I cancelled the channel and stopped watching altogether.

So why, then, am I bringing this up now? Well, I blame everything on an early snow. To my dismay (and my husband’s delight), when we moved back to our home province, we settled in an area much further south than where I grew up. We do get snow here, but far less than I am used to, and much later in the year (the real snow usually doesn’t start in earnest until January). And oh, I have missed a white Christmas! Green Christmases just don’t cut it for me.

On a recent Sunday in mid-November, to my delight, I awoke to a lovely winter snowfall and suck-the-air-out-of-your-lungs winter wind that gave every indication that this snow would last until the holidays (it did not). We didn’t have our winter tires on so we cancelled our plans and stayed home that day. ‘A good day to take stock of the Christmas presents I’ve set aside’ was my happy thought. Later that same morning, to my husband’s horror, he caught me humming along to some Christmas music on YouTube as I sorted, wrapped and checked my Christmas list twice. I am one of those people who squirrels Christmas presents away all year long so I was happy to discover that the only thing left to do is the completion of a few things I have been knitting for friends and loved ones.

I don’t usually watch a lot of TV during the day but heck, it was snowing out, and there is nothing quite as enjoyable as watching – or listening to – a bit of TV as you knit. I got settled in my chair, turned on the TV and scrolled through in search of something to watch. I couldn’t help but observe that the Christmas movie channel I cancelled years ago was… currently free for the viewing. ‘Aw, why not,’ I thought. ‘Just this once.’

Well, that ‘just this once’ was several weeks ago and I have watched quite a number of corny Christmas movies since (not to mention, having advanced quite nicely with my Christmas knitting).

I won’t lie, I kind of missed those cheesy, poorly plotted, utterly unrealistic and clearly-made-in-the-middle-of-summer movies. Yes, I was always disappointed with the pronounced ‘vanilla’ flavour of every one of those shows (most of the communities are comprised almost exclusively of white folks with one occasional token Black character who never gets the main role). I also noticed – how could I not – that in TV Land, there were only two genders and being gay is apparently not a ‘thing’ there.

I guess someone must have pointed this out to the fine folks who make these movies because this year, I have been pleased to note many more Black characters – occasionally even in the main role (!!!) – as well as Asian characters and count it: one first-generation immigrant family (who – just like in ‘real life’ – were immediately and unquestioningly welcomed as family into the community they now call home). I have also noted more divorced people, and even some older, white-haired, wrinkly people (never the main character, of course) who sometimes even get to fall in love too. I actually watched one movie that included a Jewish (main character, no less!!!) who was celebrating Hannukah with her family and – drumroll please – just last night, I saw a commercial for an upcoming movie that will actually include a falling-madly-in-love gay couple.

The children are still perfect. There is still a major problem to be resolved and the little town – stuck forever in Christmas time – is still picture-perfect. But the town folk are slightly less vanilla than before.

Hey, it’s the Christmas channel: miracles are known to happen there.

So, happy holidays, dear blogging community. And may the season and coming year be as perfect for all of you as it is in the movies.


Patti Moore Wilson/©




Author: Patti Moore Wilson, wednesdayschild2

I write what I feel. And I rarely know exactly what I feel until I write. I have lived long enough to have known many joys and many sorrows. I have made many mistakes; I have forgiven myself for a few… I have learned that there are lessons in every step of this journey, if we only take the time to pay attention… I hope you will feel free to pick and choose the stories that resonate for you…

6 thoughts on “The Christmas Chronicles: Made-for-TV Christmas Movies”

  1. I enjoy watching the Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel but only in December. Any other month is too soon for me. I find them relaxing. Whatever the conflict, I know that it will all be resolved in the end. Life is good, if only for a while 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We’ll put Hallmark on as “background music” this time of year, and we also do it when they have their “Christmas In July” promotion. Everything always works out in the end, and it is fun to see happiness rule the day each day…if only for a little while.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Patti, this is a delightful and delightfully written piece about “vanilla” Christmas movies (that have become slightly less “vanilla”). You expressed just the right amount of cynicism. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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