Friday, December 17, 2010

HOLIDAY GLEE IN A CAN by Wendy Delsol

So I may as well begin this post with a confession: I have a small addiction to decadently cheery holiday movies. Yep, even the made-for-TV, Lifetime and Hallmark variety. For eleven months of the year, I’m discerning about what I read or watch. I’m a Masterpiece Theatre junkie, I read reviews before ponying up for a movie ticket, and I value word-of-mouth book referrals. So why, come December, do I couch both my standards and my butt? I think the question has merit for a storyteller. I therefore attempt an explanation of their appeal:

GLEE IN A CAN. It is no coincidence that the wintertide observances (Christmas, Hannukah, and their pagan predecessors) are celebrated at the onset of winter. Bracing for isolation and scarcity, we stockpile hope and joy as well as canned peaches and tinned meat. Holiday movies swell with the promise of redemption and renewal. When the hotshot attorney sent with eviction papers to the struggling ranch ends up saving the cash-strapped business—and marrying the farmer’s daughter—we all feel buoyed with the promise of better days ahead.

COMFORT FOOD FOR THE SOUL. It’s human nature; predictability and familiarity are soothing. Save your WTF endings for the Oscar wannabes and thrill-a-minute plot twists for the summer blockbusters. In December, we want a log on the fire, pot roast in the oven, and a plotline that’s as worn as your grandma’s welcome mat.

YES, VIRGINIA. Come on, it’s plain ol’ fun to suspend belief, if for only the span of a cheesy movie. Santa is alive and well and—judging by his numerous offspring—as frisky as he is jolly. The lost or misguided get their do-over chance or their Wonderful Life-ish, you-don’t-know-what-you-got-til-it’s-gone moment. And who wouldn’t cheer for Mrs. Claus magicking her way to a cookie empire complete with hunky assistant?

TICK TOCK. Holiday movies also provide a nice, tight deadline. We are, after all, busy people and have come to appreciate timely solutions. It is satisfying to know that by December twenty-fifth all visiting ghosts, angels, and denizens of the North Pole will have concluded their business; that shallow, cold-fish fianc├ęs will be spurned; that lonely, career-driven Type As will find their poor-but-happy soulmate; and that goodwill to all will roll with the credits.

So what’s my all-time favorite holiday film? It is Love Actually. I’m the child of British ex-pats so I love its quirky English humor. I think its hodge-podge of interwoven stories—featuring everything from a washed up singer to the porn industry to a frustrated mystery author to a Clintonesque spoof—is bloody brilliant. And I’m pleased as plum pudding that its title boldly uses “actually” the number one word that we writers are told to liposuck from our manuscripts. Oh, and it has Colin Firth—my Mr. Darcy—but that’s a topic meriting its own post.

So what’s your favorite holiday movie? Does anyone else want to admit their own addiction to the sappy and sentimental? And any other Colin fans out there?

Cheers, happy viewing, and season's greetings to you and yours!

6 comments:

  1. I totally agree! Come Christmastime, I just want to bask in the warmth of cheesy, nostalgic Christmas movies. :)

    My favorite Christmas movie would have to be either Christmas Vacation (with its crazy family antics) or that made-for-TV Disney Channel movie in which two girls make it snow in California (because I've always wanted it to snow in California).

    Happy holidays, Wendy! :)

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  2. Hi Wendy, what a fun post! Okay, I need to rent Love Actually now. It sounds great! Happy holidays!!

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  3. Thank you, now I don't feel so guilty about my yearly allotment of corny movies! Generally I avoid anything that threatens to warm my heart - but this time of year I want movies that are pretty and sparkly and tied with big red velvet ribbons. Throw in a sugar plum fairy twirling en pointe and it's a holiday dream.

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  4. I love Colin. Colin forevah!

    My fave holiday movie is The Family Man. Other than that I am kind of Scroogey. :)

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  5. I agree, Wendy. Christmas is the time for sentimental tear-jerkers. I'm a sucker for them.

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  6. I'm not big into holiday movies but I love any version of A Christmas Carol and I especially loved Bill Murray in Scrooged as a kid. I've been meaning to see Love Actually though. It does sound wonderful and I loved your point about these kinds of stories being relief for the winter blues. Since winter makes me very blue, a story like that might help!

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