“Countdown to Christmas”: an escape to an ideal world

At the center of most Hallmark movies lies a heartwarming love story.

Photo provided by: Avery Ranum

At the center of most Hallmark movies lies a heartwarming love story.

Makayla Martindale, Editor-in-Chief

The turning of the seasons, from fall to winter, is one of the most meaningful times of the year. Dark Halloween decorations get swapped for bright Christmas lights and shining Menorahs, the smell of pine and hot cocoa permeate the air, people begin to be a bit more joyful, but whether you grew up watching “The Polar Express” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” during holiday parties in elementary school or tuning in to “Home Alone” and “Elf” curled up on the couch, Christmas movies have always been an integral aspect of the holiday season. 

Though I have always loved classic winter movies, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the infamous Hallmark movies. Known for their lighthearted and wholesome storylines, I have always been a sucker for them. The Hallmark Channel’s “Countdown to Christmas” began on Fri., Oct. 21 and this two-month movie marathon is arguably better than any other holiday campaign, as it embodies the best parts of the season: people putting their differences aside in the spirit of Christmas and the importance of celebrating love. By bringing in these elements, Hallmark movies are able to continuously draw in viewers looking for rom-coms with predictable narrative arcs that will allow them to escape to an ideal world. 

The lasting appeal of Hallmark movies is only made stronger by the pervasiveness of the plots, as in almost every movie, the strong female protagonist goes back to her hometown and connects with a love interest as they go through a trying incident; think a big city corporation attempting to shut down the beloved family Christmas tree farm. Following this, the two main characters spend most of their time together—first reluctantly, and then willingly—causing them to fall to the power of love just in time for Christmas. Although the couple will always go through a main conflict, the love that they have for each other always results in a happy ending.

By maintaining this layout throughout most of the “Countdown to Christmas” specials, Hallmark is able to preserve the predictability of their movies, which provides viewers with boosts of serotonin that accompany the movies, as the absence of realism creates an escape from the stresses that many experience while hosting family, wrapping presents, and preparing meals. Growing up, my mom constantly played the “Countdown to Christmas” while she got the house ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but these movies gave me the opportunity to bond with her over how sappy the main characters were and how sweet their story would end up, yet I knew that I would always strive to experience the love that they had found. I found a safe space, alongside many avid Christmas movie-watchers, through the comfortable familiarity that these provide year-after-year. 

Though this isn’t to say that I believe Hallmark movies to be perfect, seeing as they could add some diversity in the holidays and characters represented, the novelty of Hallmark movies is found through the comfort in knowing that the main message of “love will prevail all else” will be wrapped up in a happy ending and presented with a feeling of familiarity searched for by so many during the holiday season.