There's nothing quite like a Hallmark Christmas

There's nothing quite like a Hallmark Christmas

When some of my friends and family learned that the Hallmark Channel was starting its record-setting 34-Christmas movie schedule Oct. 26, I could almost hear the collective groan from many miles away. When the announcement came out, my phone immediately started blowing up with people making sure I’d heard the great news. It would seem I’ve gained a reputation.

Come on, you can admit it, you love these perfect ensembles of bad fake snow, cheesy plot lines, seemingly intentional terrible acting, and enough inconsistencies to make sure you know the entire movie was made in a month.

My wife pointed out to me the other night at the start of one of these classics that she thought she’d seen it before, but really wasn’t sure because it might just be Candace Cameron Bure lost on yet another remote road near a log cabin where a dashingly handsome man, with a 5 o’clock shadow that will still look just as perfect in the morning, will graciously take the couch in the cold side room so she can enjoy the king-sized bed and perfectly delightful amenities in what’s supposed to be a vacant cabin.

The fifth most popular Hallmark Christmas movie ever, according to Thrillist, is Cameron Bure’s 2013 “Let It Snow.” If the following synopsis doesn’t make you want to watch it, I hate to say you just might not have what it takes to be part of this club.

“Stephanie has never seen snow, hates Christmas, and wants to shut down the Snow Valley Lodge to impress her stuffy father and boss (Alan Thicke). A Christmas-tree lighting, some fun on the slopes, a little cuddling on a toboggan with Brady, and one telling-off of her father later, and she has a whole different view of the world. This one is fun and sweet, with just enough bitterness that you won’t choke on your gingerbread.”

This year there was an announcement that singer LeAnn Rimes would take part in her first Hallmark Christmas movie, “It’s Christmas, Eve.” It was predictably terrible, with some of the worst fake snow and too-perfect night lighting I’ve seen, but I couldn’t stop watching the snippets I caught. I’m quite sure they saved Christmas – again. There’s always some redeeming quality, such as Rimes penning her own original songs for the film, though clearly they weren’t her best.

My Hallmark favorites are the ones portraying “hard-working” journalists who’ve been given months to come up with one story about Christmas, seeking inspiration at a coffee shop run so poorly by their future love interest that they’ll have to jump in with the big bucks they earn from that one story to save both the day and their bad-at-business employer.

It’s almost a given that the guy is a complete jerk to start the movie, and you can’t imagine he’d ever be kind enough to deserve the woman, but ultimately he finds his true noble character – in just two hours, with commercials – and the two learn everything they need to learn about one another with a few funny or quirky lines. More than one woman has been head-over-heels for Mr. Dreamy simply after he buys a cup of coffee for a homeless person. As an added bonus, the future lover turns out to be Santa Claus or the jolly fellow’s son.

I think part of the reason I love Countdown to Christmas on Hallmark is that my wife lets me talk during the movie. Making fun of it is a huge part of the fun.
There are no real rules for those of us in the club. As my colleague Laura accurately pointed out, there’s no requirement that you watch the whole thing, and no one will judge you if it’s only on as background noise as you wrap presents and sip eggnog. The badness is part of the fun.

Hallmark has done a genius job of turning low-budget films with B-list actors into a cult following and somehow increasing market demand. This year I noticed a shirt (I’ve already added it to my Christmas list) with the words, “This is my Hallmark Christmas Movies watching shirt.” I mean, how great is that?

Sure, I’ll agree there’s a place for my favorite cinematic Christmas masterpieces such as “Home Alone, “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “Elf,” but when it comes to feel-good mush that will really get you in the spirit well before normal people are ready for the holiday, Hallmark has us covered.

For a complete programming guide this holiday season, with festive movies playing “all day and all night," visit

Each year, Ethan Shorey shares his holiday experiences with Valley Breeze readers. This is the 13th installment. Two years ago he wrote about the miracle birth of his daughter, last year about how his wife enjoys matching the whole family for Christmas.