It’s that time of year when non-Jewish people everywhere tune into the Hallmark channel for an endless stream of Christmas movies and shows. I have always felt a strong sense of curiosity about Christian pop culture, but I’ve never felt comfortable watching newer Christmas movies that are so clearly geared towards non-Jews. I do love holiday movies, and I enjoy some that are Christmas-specific like It’s a Wonderful Life and White Christmas. But these are classics that just happen to be aired around Christmastime.
What do Christian people who want a more modern Christmas movie watch? I decided to dig in and do the research myself. I watched an embarrassing number of hours of Hallmark movies in the name of research for my fellow lady tribe members. Below are my notes from the hours of viewing that I will never get back.
1. Straight people getting engaged and/or married at Christmas is the ultimate goal of every single movie.
You don’t really need to watch any movies to put this together, since it is spelled out so deliberately in the titles. For example: Matchmaker Santa, A December Bride, A Holiday Engagement, Hitched for the Holidays, Marry Me at Christmas, and Merry Matrimony. Even if a movie does not have the words “Christmas” or “marriage” in the title, if it is airing on Hallmark right now, it is probably about Christmas and marriage.
2. If you’re going to get engaged and/or married, ideally you will marry royalty.
Or you will reunite with your ex-husband, who may or may not be a ghost. See: A Royal Winter, A Royal Christmas, Crown for Christmas, A Royal New Year’s Eve, and Angels and Ornaments.
3. Family trauma is real but never actually addressed.
To make a convincing Christmas movie you need at least one character who hates Christmas because of emotional baggage. That does not mean that person receives any actual help for their issues. Instead the tinsel gets in their eyes and somehow they always feel better by the end of the movie.
4. Any other drama usually includes arguments about Christmas decorations.
Apparently if your house is not covered in layers of red, green, and tinsel, you don’t understand the spirit of Christmas.
5. At the same time, everyone works very hard to keep “Christ” in Christmas.
There’s lots of not-so-subtle religious messaging about hope, faith, and miracles.
6. People who don’t observe Christmas don’t exist.
Neither do LGBTQ people. There are a handful of characters played by people of color, but their parts are considerably smaller than those of any white character.
7. Family businesses reign supreme.
Most of the businesses are failing at the outset of the movie but recover by the end. Or it doesn’t matter because the main female lead married a royal and she don’t need no family business now.
8. Drinking alcohol occurs but no one ever gets drunk.
It must be a miracle of Christmas.
9. Sex is not a thing, even when the male lead is some hunky character like a fireman.
The ho-ho-hoing is reserved exclusively for Santa.
10. Pet shenanigans bring lonely single people together. My dog has never done any work for my romantic life, so it must be a goyishe animal thing.
11. This is where the actresses from your favorite ‘90s sitcoms work now.
Think Candace Cameron Bure, Melissa Joan Hart, and Danica McKeller. Also, Lacey Chabert, aka Gretchen Weiners. Any other actors will look like people you’ve seen before if you squint at the screen or you’ve had a few glasses of wine.
While Alma readers are clearly not the target audience for any of these movies, I understand the urge to see stories about love and major life things working out. And like it or not, Christmas culture will always be around.
The biggest takeaway? These movies are perfect for drinking games. If you’re in need of a silly new holiday tradition, get your friends together and settle in for holiday shows that are so sweet you’ll need to wash them down with Manischewitz. Happy Holidays!