As THE day approaches, TV is wrestling with itself to see how many Christmas movies they can squeeze into 24 hours.
Apparently a lot.
I find that movies at Christmas time can really divide a family. If I say there are so many sappy movies on that it makes my teeth hurt, I’m a curmudgeon. If I watch them with devoted fervor, I’m a sap. Every movie is a reflection of Harlequin novels, which have a specific outline. For example, here are a few requirements for one line of Harlequin novels.
- Clean, emotional, satisfying romances that readers can feel comfortable sharing with their friends and family of all ages
- Romance, family and community are strong features of these stories
- Characters demonstrate traditional values, but exhibit flaws and overcome hurdles similar to those in other contemporary series romances
- Conflict between the main characters should be an emotional one, arising naturally from the story
- Plots unfold in a wholesome style and voice that excludes explicit sex or nudity, pre-marital sex, profanity, or graphic depictions of violence: references to violent incidents or pre-marital sex in the past are acceptable if they contribute to character development
- Physical interactions (i.e. kissing/hugging) should emphasize emotional tenderness rather than sexual desire or sensuality: low level of sexual tension; characters should not make love unless they are married
A clean, healthy dose of falling in love. And little (if any) sex. Fall in true love first, ruffle the sheets later. Oh. And happily ever after. MUST have happily ever after.
Now, before I go further, know that I am for writing anything as long as it holds the reader’s interest and your heart. The same should be true about romance movies, too. But these syrupy sweet movies make my teeth hurt. The men and women are always beautiful but flawed, their hangups based on past incidents they never quite got over, their kids sweet, the snow perfect.
I have yet to see a made-for-TV movie where the woman is middle-aged, chubby, and works at a diner. I have yet to see young men working as truck drivers or fork lift drivers wind up with the rich debutante. I know these are supposed to be feel-good, make-believe types of stories — ones that give hope to those who have less-than-perfect holidays.
I have had less-than-perfect holidays, and all those movies do is make me itch.
I’ll be the first to admit that one reason I back away from feel-good confections like these is that I’m afraid I’ll start to cry, and the doors to the tear bank won’t stop until I’ve refreshed them with a sandwich or glass of wine. That’s why I stay away from sappy crybaby stories all together. Old Yeller. Beaches. Turner and Hootch. Bambi.
Another reason I tend to stay away from TV Christmas movies is that there are so many commercials they make my eyes sting. It’s like little needles going into my forehead. I hate commercials. Beautiful people selling fun, beauty, and car insurance.
Okay — I’m not really against feel-good movies. The ones I watched last week were pretty decent, considering I saw the same theme played out 3 different ways. And I did wind up admitting they were “cute.”
Maybe I hold a little resentment because my Christmases are always a madhouse. Some is my own doing; some because others hold the strings to my Santa Claus puppet heart. It’s all done with love, but there’s really not much rest, either in front of a fireplace or under the mistletoe, like in the movies. It’s run, hug, kiss, eat, drive to another place, hug, kiss, eat, go home, wrap presents, fall down frozen from exhaust until 5 a.m. when grandbaby comes in and says, “Granny! Santa came!”
I think I’m beginning to hear that sappy Christmas movie music again….