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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Crazy

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   You know what would make Christmas an even better holiday? No gifts. When I throw this suggestion up for discussion with my family I, of course, get extreme resistance. My daughter shares, “Yeah mom, there’s already a holiday like that. It’s called Thanksgiving.” And my son looks at me like he’s superior in all areas of cognitive brain function and announces, “A giftless Christmas would destroy the economy.” 

    Okay, they both may be onto something and it’s not their fault or anyone’s fault that I suffer from what could be classified as a gifting anxiety disorder. I’m one of those people who stress out, like get heart palpitations in the aisle of Toys R Us and are overcome with a level of dizziness so severe that I have to lean on a limited edition, five-foot, stuffed Chewbacca plush, as I obsessively fret over finding the perfect present. And, it’s not so much about the gift as it is about creating that unique moment in time when someone’s face is all aglow with surprise and elation over the present they just received. Think of it as a Hallmark holiday movie in slow motion with a confectionary sugar glaze. That’s what I’m always striving for. 

    If you doubt the degree of my gift anxiety let me share with you some of my Christmas crazy.

    When my son was young and totally into model railroading I would buy two of whatever train he wanted. Let me take a moment and explain to those of you (and that would be most of you) that don’t know anything about model trains. These choo choos aren’t cheap. Purchasing a Lionel Harry Potter Hogwarts Express Train Set is an investment. These trains are also fragile, as in why don’t we just let our kid drag great, great, great grandma Shirley’s antique, china tea set that survived the sinking of the Titanic around a set of metal tracks. Due to the fact that I lived in some sort of psychotic fear of the train arriving broken, getting broken, or failing to make a successful loop I would stockpile trains so I would have backups lest anything mechanical dared to ruin my son’s Christmas morning.

    Same story for my daughter expect change train to American Girl Doll. There is nothing more mercurial than an elementary school aged girl when it comes to deciding what American Girl doll she wants for Christmas. You can have her promise, pinky swear, and declare in her two page letter to Santa Claus that all she really, really, wants for Christmas is the Samantha doll. Then as you’re driving to the Christmas Eve candlelight service from the back seat of the car your now not so angelic daughter proclaims that she hopes and dreams of getting the Kit Kittredge doll for Christmas. Argh!!!

    Because I’m probably in need of some sort of pharmaceutical intervention and therapy (oh who am I kidding there’s no probably) I kept a stash of American Girl dolls at the ready in case my daughter changed her mind T minus six hours till Santa. I’m telling you I was the gift version of a Doomsday Prepper! 

    Brace yourselves because the crazy coaster is now about to take another plunge. I would hide my present hoarding from my husband. My master plan was to always secure my ERG (emergency replacement gifts) and then on December 26 brave the crowds and initiate Operation Return. It was all good until the year my spouse discovered  my “Santa’s Little Helper” cache of presents. 

    To say he wasn’t happy would be the understatement of understatements. At first, he thought I was planning on giving our kids all the presents he saw hidden deep in my closet. I believe his statement (if you call yelling a statement) was “And this right here is why we’ll never be able to pay for their college!” I attempted to calm him down by proudly explaining the method to my madness. I mean come on, I had a pretty good system going. It was all about be prepared. I even used a Dallas Cowboy coach Tom Landry classic quote on him about how being prepared means winning the game of life or something like that. How can you argue with the legendary Tom Landry? Well, apparently my husband could. 

    That was the day my gift hoarding ended. From then on I was living on the edge, flying by the seat of my pants and just going with the gift flow. I hated it. I was a nervous wreck without my EGR’s. I had no backups. There was nothing in my closet to aid in the elimination of any worst case scenarios. It was so bad I had to self medicate by eating loads of candy canes and I don’t even like candy canes. (Although in the candy cane hierarchy I will say the Jolly Ranchers rule.)

    Then something much worse happened. My kids outgrew gifts and by this I mean they no longer desired me hand selecting their presents and creating a Christmas morning tableau that would make them weep with joy. Nope. Now all they wanted was freaking gift cards. They were killing my Christmas mojo. Where’s the joy in giving a gift card? They’re not even fun to wrap. And then while I was complaining about the gift card it’s evil present twin entered the picture – the iPhone. Curse you cellular technology and your diabolical plot to come out with a new phone every blasted year. 

    Here’s the deal. In my family if you’re want a phone that’s close to $200 that’s pretty much all you’re getting except for some Christmas Eve flannel p.j.’s and assorted stocking stuffers. Where’s the fun in that I ask you in having only one little box under the tree? The whole thing made me long for the days of the Xbox and Wii. At least they had games you could play as a family. Now, I just had children staring at a screen. I swear one Christmas all I saw was the top of my kids’ heads. Not that they don’t have perfectly lovely heads, but still is it wrong for a mother to want a little more on Christmas day? I think not.

    The whole thing just exacerbated my gifting anxiety disorder. I feared my holiday spirit was going, going, gone until the ghost of Christmas Future paid me a visit. Someday down the road of life I would be a grandmother and you know what that means don’t you? It’s a carte blanche to go crazy expect it’s not called crazy it’s called being a grandma. Even better the expected societal norm is for grandmothers to exhibit excessive holiday behavior. In ten, maybe 15 years I can reboot my Christmas insanity all over again. It will be Christmas 2.0 – bigger, better and grandma sized and not a gift card in sight, at least not on my watch.

Still lookicover_1-3-21ng for that perfect Christmas present? Calm yourself because I’m here to help.  What need is a heaping helping of Snarky. Yes, my precious holiday angel  just click on one of the links and presto you can get yourself some Snarky for only, wait for it, wait for it, 99 cents!  You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read. 🙂

 

Is This Hallmark Movie Good For a Hallmark Movie?

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 11.42.37 AMFamily togetherness during the holiday season is a beautiful thing until, you know, it’s not. Take for instance buying a Christmas tree with teenagers. Just when you’re all atingle from the familial sharing of selecting the perfect tree to adorn your home you discover your son’s knot tying skills are rudimentary at best, especially in the adhering-noble pine-to-luggage rack- category, when your tree not so much as slides, but shimmies off the top of your car like Santa Claus trying to exit a flue he mistook for a chimney and ungracefully tumbles onto a major intersection.

Adding to that aggravation is when your daughter’s response to this tree-astrophe is to while hysterically laughing yells, “hashtag Boy Scout Fail” and your son, who should be, I’m thinking perhaps embarrassed, proclaims, “retweeting!”

It’s times like this when I desperately seek the soothing solace of a Hallmark holiday movie where TV stars from the 90’s find employment and keep their Screen Actor’s Guild insurance current all while discovering the true meaning of Christmas. In the Hallmark holiday movie universe nothing really bad happens except some really horrific hair. (I’m talking to you Crystal Bernard in 2004’s Single Santa Seeks Mrs Claus. It looks like the same team of albino ferrets that do Donald Trump’s hair got their start being the “glam squad” on this movie.) But besides some less than stellar talent in the area of back comb artistry these holiday movies are all about quality.

Movie snobs may disagree with me on this and if I had zero Christmas spirit I’d might be inclined to admit that some of the sets look like to save money the director decided to shoot the living room scene in a discount furniture showroom (seriously, like they couldn’t of filmed after hours at a Pottery Barn) and there is the continuing issue of Santa Claus casting that I question.

Although, Norm (George Wendt) from Cheers was Mr. Claus in the 2006 Santa Baby and he owned the role. Really, he was just mesmerizing and kudos to him for not falling in the whole lame ho, ho, ho trap. He kept it real.

Speaking of ho, ho, ho, former Playboy centerfold  Jenny McCarthy was cast as his daughter in this movie. At first I was all, “Oh no they didn’t” but Jenny pulled it off. That’s all part of the Hallmark movie magic. It’s like a holiday casting casserole where things that shouldn’t go together do and are held together by the Velveeta of movie magic – fake snow. I’m sure there’s a snow alarm in the Hallmark movie production offices that reads: “Plotline iffy, story dragging, no couple chemistry? Then break for snow.”

Something almost better than the Hallmark holiday movie is the community that surrounds it. You can’t imagine my joy when I discovered the Facebook page Is This Hallmark Movie Good For a Hallmark Movie? It was like I was being swaddled in a cashmere blanket made from limited edition goat fur from the North Pole while eating private label Christmas Poppycock. I immediately reached out to the creators of the page (which I just have to assume are long-lost kin) for their wisdom about the Hallmark holiday movie magic.

Julianna W. Miner, one of the co-creators of the page, says she watches nothing but Hallmark Holiday movies for close to eight weeks. (I’m sooooo jealous!) For Julie the Hallmark movie is all about the stars that rival the Aurora Borealis. She gleefully shares, “Where else would you find the magical re-telling of the Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol” featuring Tori Spelling, Gary Coleman, and—wait for it— William Shatner. I mean, a lot of people would look at that cast and think, “Is that even real?” The answer is yes. And it’s wonderful.”11221637_1504983449827920_1528500140368253108_n

Not just content with sharing their up-to-date analysis of each movie Julianna’s Christmas cohort, author Peyton Price, created a Hallmark Holiday movie Bingo card featuring squares like a “magical twinkling sound” and a “bump on the head.” I was a little disappointed to find the card didn’t have a square for “bad hair,” but I guess the one that says, “someone wearing a wig” is close enough.

So, this holiday season if you’re ever feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, or perhaps getting alarmed that your Christmas cheer maybe waning. Don’t fret. All you need to do is wrestle the TV remote away from a family member, shoo them from the room, (because nothing ruins a Hallmark holiday movie like your husband making fun of it. So what if the North Pole looks like Santa’s village at the mall?) and settle in for a blissful escape to the land of mistletoe kisses while being held hostage inside a snowglobe. Oh wait, my bad that’s an ABC Family movie. They also did Holiday In Handcuffs. What’s with ABC and the Yuletide bondage themes?

Whatever, let’s not think about that. Let’s focus on the Hallmark world where snow is like duct tape – it can fix anything.

It’s no Hallmark holiday movie because there’s no magical snow BUT my Snarky book series is a delight in so many other ways. If you haven’t experienced a Snarky book yet may I gently suggest you give yourself the gift of Snarky this holiday season. Yes, my friend just click on one of the links and presto you can get yourself some Snarky for only, wait for it, wait for it, 99 cents!  You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read. 🙂cover_1-3-21