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  • Dec7Mon

    A Fairy-Tale Christmas

    What does our devotion to Hallmark movies say about us? December 7, 2020 by Captain Laura Hickman
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    Oh, the weather outside is frightful,

    But the fire is so delightful.

    And since we’ve no place to go,

    Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

    The long, hot days of summer seem like a distant memory as days become shorter and temperatures cooler. In exchange for bathing suits, flip-flops and cool treats, many people now welcome an opportunity to cozy up inside with flannel pyjamas, a nice throw blanket, a hot drink—and a Hallmark movie.

    What started as a company selling postcards has evolved into a corporation marketing human connection to sell cards, commemorative gifts and picture-perfect movies. Individuals on the hunt to find a visually pleasing, feel-good story know that they can trust Hallmark to deliver such an experience.

    Beyond their predictable storylines, aesthetically pleasing sets and model casts, is it possible that Hallmark movies reveal something about our culture? If our culture is not actually reflected on screen, is it possible that the appeal of what’s on screen reveals something of our time?

    While not every storyline portrays characters whose lives are perfect, every character seems to have it almost all together. Despite job losses, broken relationships, clouded perspectives and major soul-searching, Hallmark’s leading characters rarely display the turmoil such situations can bring. Instead, Hallmark’s storylines cling to a sense of romantic hope that cushions all of life’s perils.

    In most, if not all, storylines, Hallmark offers an array of adult fairy tales, keeping alive the childhood dream of “happily ever after.”

    I can’t help but identify that Hallmark is not the only platform to reflect a desire for “picture-perfect lives.” A quick scroll through any social media platform will reveal that we often prefer the neat-and-tidy appearance of “happy ever after” to more realistic chaos and mess.

    A meme on social media recently showed an apple looking into a mirror. The reflection in the mirror was a perfect, whole apple, but from behind the apple, we can see a huge bite missing. Accompanying the picture were the words, “Perfection is an illusion.” I have certainly felt the pressure of such an illusion.

    Christian recording artist, Matthew West, recently released a song called Truth Be Told, which says:

    Lie number one, you’re supposed to have it all together.
    And when they ask how you're doing,
    Just smile and tell them, “Never better.”

    Lie number two, everybody’s life is perfect, except yours.
    So keep your messes and your wounds
    And your secrets safe with you behind closed doors.

    Truth be told, the truth is rarely told.
    I say I’m fine. Yeah, I’m fine.
    Oh, I’m fine. Hey, I’m fine, but I’m not.

    I’m broken.
    And when it’s out of control, I say it’s under control but it’s not.
    And you know it.
    I don’t know why it’s so hard to admit it
    When being honest is the only way to fix it.

    While escaping into the story of a good fairy tale is not harmful, feeling pressured to live up to a fairy-tale reality is.

    Hallmark’s “Countdown to Christmas” offers a glimmer of hope through momentary escapes from real life. Into the darkness of our lives the light of Jesus shines, offering an everlasting hope.

    The good news of great joy that we can declare at Christmas is that the hope of the Nativity is no fairy tale.

    The journey of Jesus was messy. Life with Jesus can still get pretty messy and chaotic. While we are not immune from the trials of this life, we can find great freedom in bringing our hearts to a God who cares. 

    Captain Laura Hickman is the corps officer at South Windsor Corps, Ont.

    Photo: Vasyl Dolmatov/iStock via Getty Images Plus

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