On a certain level I understand that a Hallmark Christmas movie hinges on Christmas being a vitally important holiday that is appreciated, acknowledged, and celebrated — with bells on. But if your only exposure to film was Hallmark channel movies, you’d really have a very terrifying perspective on the absolute necessity of specific Christmas rituals, rites, and saccharine sweet antics.
Finding Father Christmas ticks all the boxes and then some. In a story about a young woman who hasn’t felt up to celebrating the holiday since her mother died during a Christmas play when she was a young girl, this movie needs to make up for any and all lost time. Here’s a short chronicle of the almost cultish obsession displayed with this holiday:
- Christmas town — You can’t convince me this isn’t a gimmick the producers thought up. A Hallmark Christmas town is essentially a ceramic Christmas village come to life, but instead of that weirding everyone out, they’re happy to live in the snow globe (that’s, by the way, the basis of a totally different Hallmark movie).
- Tree lighting tradition — Okay, this is a tradition in some places in the world. But can we all agree, this is not a “Christmas necessity”. It’s a fun light show. You could get a better display from a Pink Floyd concert.
- Gift baskets — I haven’t seen this one before, but basically our love interest’s family has unlimited wealth which is amply displayed in giant pinterest type gift baskets that are given out to the townspeople. And given the off-camera shriek of one of the recipients, it’s the highlight of the year. But honestly, what happened to just mailing out Christmas cards? Isn’t that enough effort??
- Horse drawn … cart — Yeah, you gotta have a sleigh — or something like a sleigh — pulled by reindeer — or something like reindeer…anyway it’s romantic to go on a ride in an open air vehicle in the winter with a lap blanket and a man wrapped around you. It’s really the only valid excuse for public groping we’ve come up with as a people.
- White Christmas — I think we can blame several earlier movies for this Christmas necessity. But ever since I could drive I’ve been baffled by the trope. It’s a huge travel day and everyone is thrilled that now the road is an obstacle course with hidden death traps. Happy holidays from the ditch, friends.
- Christmas eve tradition — The insistence with which people stress “we ALWAYS do this on Christmas eve” had me thinking that maybe it was something major. Like ritual sacrifice. I’d even have settled for a yearly ritual burning of the Elf on the Shelf.
- Christmas day tradition — In case you weren’t feeling boxed in enough by expectation and history, there’s a Christmas day tradition TOO. Not church though, I noticed. I’m not sure yet if the overt religious themes are being weeded out entirely, but they’re certainly being nixed in favor of what I’m going to term “Christmas religion”.
- Christmas religion — At some point in the movie someone will be wondering what all this Christmas fuss is about. Why the gift baskets? The lights? The tree? Why is everyone so blessed happy? It’s at this point that our Christmas pro (who probably has a gift wrapping room at the Christmas cottage) gives a small tutorial on “the reason for the season”. It’s not Jesus. It’s “loving people” “life” “taking time for the small moments” “spending time with those you love” “letting people know you love them” “sharing with others”. Honestly, it’s whatever sermonette our heroine has been struggling to grasp for the previous hour+.
My advice is if your own Christmas is lacking in the experience of any of these tropes, watch this movie. You get the vicarious experience with 100% less of the glitter and inevitable family fallout. ALSO This is the first in a series of three. So. There’s so much more to look forward to?