Is It Really Christmas Without a Hallmark Holiday Movie?

Fake snow, meeting cute, and the classic two second end of movie smooch means Christmas is here and warning I’ll throw down with anyone who doesn’t agree with me.

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 Being an influencer is a huge deal right now.  You’ve got your YouTube influencers that include people with make-up tutorials that teach you how to do the “perfect face” which really bothers me because who wants to use 23 different cosmetic products and take two hours before you can leave the house? Never mind all that blending of seven different foundations. I want to live my life, not spend it seamlessly merging liquid and powder concealers and inner eye shimmer. And then there’s the fashion and foodie influencers and on and on.  All of this kind of makes me mad, because I was an influencer before it was a thing.

Case in point, I feel like I’m single handedly responsible for the current Hallmark holiday movie craze because I was a fanatical Hallmark holiday movie watcher before those movies were cool.  18 long years ago I was watching Hallmark holiday movies and enthusiastically proclaiming their greatness in the face of friends and family giving me the side eye.

But did I care? No, because “Special Delivery” staring Andy Dick (yes, comedian Andy Dick, in a sweet movie full of hope and redemption – go figure?) or “The Flight of the Reindeer” featuring the cinematic talents of Beau Bridges and Richard Thompson proving that reindeer really can fly should be celebrated by all of humanity with a box of Kleenex and a side of gingerbread.

Yes, I know for all you new converts that it’s hard to fathom that there was ever a Hallmark holiday movie made without the acting talents of Lacey Chabert or Candace Cameron Bure. But I can assure you, back in the day the movies were made without the allure of 80s and 90s TV stars. Totally mind-blowing, right? But for true hardcore Hallmark holiday aficionados this is our truth.

The whole Hallmark bandwagon started to blossom in 2011 when the networked launched their “Countdown to Christmas.” Before you could say, “Jingle Bells,” people were hooked and acting like they had discovered holiday paradise when, in fact, it had been around for a solid decade.

I can remember the moment like it was yesterday. I was at a party when two women dressed in “This is my Hallmark Christmas movie watching shirt” dared to attempt to one up me about Hallmark movies. I wasn’t having it, not one bit. One of the women, who I’m sure was a little tipsy on spiked eggnog, spouted off about how the first Hallmark holiday movie was “Matchmaker Santa.” Are. You. Kidding. Me.? Just because it starred Lacey Chabert before her, some would say, overzealous Botox injections doesn’t mean it was the first Hallmark holiday movie. I know for a fact that movie is from 2012.

I got in both of those women’s faces and let them know that they were frauds in their Hallmark shirts, nothing more than wannabes. I told them that I have been “Hallmarking” for almost two decades.

I was there when the sets were tacky, and it looked like they were filming all their interiors in an abandon Sears. I was there when the Christmas décor looked like Hobby Lobby rejects purloined from the 75 percent off bin and all the fake snow had a hint of beige like it was a cast-off from a Christmas carnival. I was a loyal fan when all the actors looked like they did their own hair and makeup. How can anyone forget the 2004 “Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus” when poor Crystal Bernard’s hair looked like she was wearing a wig made from the straw in Rudolph’s stall. If ever there was a cry for a deep conditioning treatment and a stylist who knew their way around a round brush this was it.

To say I unloaded my Christmas bucket would be an understatement. But it had to be done. Hallmark holiday movies, most shot in the summer and made in about a month, starring a 42-year-old Candance Cameron Bure (aka Her Royal Highness of Hallmark) as a twentysomething spunky up and coming executive should be respected. They’re all future classics. 50 years from now, forget about “A Wonderful Life” because weary mothers will be watching “Snowmance” from 2017 pondering the fashion choices (Why all the flannel?)but never questioning the plot where a snowman comes to life and turns out to be, of course, the most perfect man ever.

Pass me the hot coca because I’ll drink to that all month long.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mystery Of Motherhood

I have found a way to reach out to my deceased mother. It’s amazing. I feel like I’m actually with her. Sometimes I think I can even smell my mom’s Jean Patuou Joy perfume. No, I’m not spending time with a psychic, an Ouija board or any other kind of cosmic intervention. My journey to the great beyond is courtesy of the Hallmark Movie and Mysteries channel.

Don’t scoff, don’t shake your head in disbelief and don’t discount the power of Murder She Wrote and Columbo marathons to make me feel like I’m back home in Texas (circa late 70’s early 80’s) with the hum of the cranked AC almost as loud as the TV and my mom and I sipping ice tea with mint from the garden as we try to outwit TV’s master detectives.

My mother loved a good “who done it.”  She devoured mystery novels like I eat a chocolate fudge Bundt cake – in one sitting. My first chapter books were the Encyclopedia Brown – Boy Detective series. I still remember how proud she was of me when I solved The Case of the Missing Civil War Sword. After Encyclopedia Brown I graduated to Agatha Christie and my life was forever changed.

I was a teen with the hots for Hercule Poirot – Christie’s master detective. Poirot wasn’t exactly the stuff of a girl’s dreams. The character was a middle-aged, mustached, “egg shaped detective” from Belgium. Yet, I was smitten.

I’m not exaggerating while other girls my age were obsessed with the Partridge Family’s David Cassidy I was quoting Poirot.

It is the brain, the little gray cells on which one must rely. One must seek the truth within–not without.”

Is it any wonder my brother came to this close to being forced to be my prom date? I think not.

I still have every Agatha Christie book I ever read, but for some reason re-reading them doesn’t bring my mom back to me like settling into the Hallmark Movie and Mystery channel. I think it’s because watching those shows was a shared experience and my mother always, like within the first ten minutes, had figured who had done it and how they did it. It was impressive and my day, no my month, was made if I happened to blurt out before she did who the killer was.

Her detective chops also made her a mom who was hard to get anything over on. My brother called her a “human polygraph” You didn’t attempt to fib, white lie, hard core fabricate or spin a yarn of falsehoods. She knew in a nano second if you were “spouting untruths.”  It was a 100 percent wasted effort to do anything but be straight up with her.

One day she shared her secret to divining dishonesty. I was on the edge of our living room Scalamandre upholstered love seat all ears and ready for the truth bomb of my lifetime. Her reveal was, well, rather disappointing in it’s simplicity. My mother said, “to find the truth you have to learn to be quiet and listen.”

I gave her a look that said, “Ugh, that’s all you got.” She took one look at my disappointed face and gave me a “tsk, tsk.”

I never would have imagined those dozen words of maternal wisdom would have remained on an audio loop in my brain for the past 30 plus years and that they would have served me so well.

That’s the enduring power of motherhood. Your mom never really leaves you. I still feel like my mother is with me. Still gently prodding me to be better and even to this day I hear her telling me to sit up straight or in her words, “Hand to God child, you’re one slump away from getting a dowagers hump.”

And on those days when I really, really miss her I turn on Columbo and suddenly all is right with the world.