Somewhere this holiday season there’s a woman who works too hard. Or maybe she dates a conceited, scheming jerk.
And there’s a man who is thoughtful, wholesomely handsome and kind to kids and dogs.
These two will meet in an idyllic small town or in a crowded department store or on the streets of New York. They will discover love … and the joy of Christmas.
And my mom will be watching.
From Thanksgiving to Christmas, the Hallmark Channel runs and reruns dozens of these touching holiday movies. They’re uplifting, romantic and — this is important, my mother says — clean.
“Just a happy, sappy, easy-to-watch story,” says Marilyn Peveto, of Buna, Texas.
And they are addictive. It’s easy to sit down during a Hallmark marathon at lunchtime and look up to see the moon in the sky. Even my dad, whose favorite Christmas movie is probably “Die Hard,” gets sucked in.
So, I asked my mom, if she could pick only three, what would run on her holiday channel:
“Christmas at Cartwright’s”
Aided by an angel, a single mother gets a job as a Santa at Cartwright’s, a huge downtown department store. “It sounds crazy,” mom says. “But she does all that because she wants to have Christmas for her little girl. She knows she’s lying, but she has to do it.”
Alicia Witt, one of the Hallmark Channel’s vaguely familiar go-to actresses, stars as the mother who uses a gruff voice to pass as a male Santa and ends up adding a motherly touch to her interactions with kids. The big city news media finds out there’s a woman under that white beard. Outrage briefly ensues. But the public adores her. Then she falls in love.
A successful bakery owner gets stranded in a lovely small town at Christmas as she travels to meet the mother of her fiancé, a handsome CEO. But regular Hallmark viewers know what’s coming.
“The bad guy is always the guy that is either an investment broker or the head of a corporation,” mom says.
The baker, played by Lacey Chabert — a teenage crush of many men my age from her time on “Party of Five” — can’t get her car fixed. She has to spend time with her CEO boyfriend’s assistant, a nice, attentive man. Then she falls in love.
This is Hallmark’s undisputed Christmas champion, running regularly since it premiered in 2009 and spawning multiple spin-offs.
The overbearing mother from “Everybody Loves Raymond,” Doris Roberts, is a supernatural housekeeper to charming widower James “Dawson” Van Der Beek and his 6-year-old twin sons.
“I would watch that over and over again,” mom says.
Van Der Beek’s widower can’t play the piano since his wife died. And a beautiful woman quit acting because of her all-consuming job. But the two miraculously join forces to put on a Christmas pageant. Then they fall in love.