OPINION

Rivenbark: Hallmark movies are here to cure what ails us

CELIA RIVENBARK
Rivenbark

Like many of you clinging to normal during this COVID Christmas season, I’ve been watching more than my share of Hallmark movies. November brain enjoyed the brilliant, dark, unsettling portrait of an orphaned chess prodigy, but December brain wants only fluff: a reliable meet-cute at the Christmas tree lot of whatever dying Midwestern town needs resuscitating.

Yes, we want the beautiful people. OK, maybe the funny-but-frumpy best friend, too, but mostly the beautiful people. Hallmark Christmas movies are as comforting as the words, “Dolly Parton just dropped a new Christmas album” which she did, and we are humbly grateful. Like the inventor of cheese-stuffed pizza crust, Dolly knows what we need before we even know it ourselves. Glory be.

This year, COVID has torpedoed traditional holiday visits with family and friends, but at least we know some actress who played “you know, the pretty girl who is always chewing on a pen at the nurses’ station” on a soap opera will be just the plucky newcomer to go up against the handsome bad guy from corporate. Will his heart melt like Velveeta in a microwave as they get to know each other? Will her feisty pluck triumph and convince him to abandon plans to raze the beloved gazebo in the town square and replace it with a brew-thru? What the hell do YOU think?

Sorry. That was August talking. August was around the time we first realized COVID was going to be an all-year thing. And into the next. Like most Americans who don’t spend all day saving lives, I came to the unpleasant realization that I had about a six-month window of “We’ll just have to power through!” and, turns out, a whole lot more months of “WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO US??? OMG, RUBY TUESDAY’S HAS CLOSED!!!”

It’s disheartening when you realize you’re not made out of the stuff you thought you were. Sure, you thought you were quietly brave and wise like Tom Hanks in “Saving Private Ryan” but, turns out, you have a lot more in common with George Costanza in “Seinfeld.” It’s sobering.

Thankfully, Hallmark doesn’t judge. Unless it’s “A Courthouse Christmas!” of course. Hallmark meets us where we live. They know their audience lives in a sketchy world in which you put on makeup for a work Zoom but can’t remember when you last took a shower. Also, when did you start adding shots of Fireball to your coffee to “ward off the COVID”?

A year from now, we’ll have an app on our phones to prove we’ve been vaccinated. Yeah, that’s not weird. Dr. Fauci, bless his heart, will star in a Hallmark movie as a wily, matchmaking Elf on the Shelf who brings together, duh, a moody lumberjack and the big-city architect who broke his heart back in junior high.

I can hardly wait.

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