THESE TIMES: Finding love in a sugar-coated TV special

Hallmark, Lifetime and other channels are ringing in the holiday spirit with predictable storylines for folks who either love them or hate them.

At this point, Candace Cameron Bure is better known for her luck with love at Christmastime than as DJ on ‘Full House.’
At this point, Candace Cameron Bure is better known for her luck with love at Christmastime than as DJ on ‘Full House.’
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A few months ago I started getting People magazine in my mailbox each week — right address, wrong recipient. A recent issue had a foldout advertisement full of red and gold Christmas wonderment: ornaments, tinsel, faux snow and the icing on the cake — or the angel on top of the decorated tree — a list of every Lifetime holiday movie from the day after Thanksgiving until Dec. 25.

That is “oh, sweet heaven” for some people.

Between those and the Hallmark and Discover+ Christmas movies, you have everything you need for a month-long binge-fest of happy. Talk about positive reinforcement for your psyche.

How can you be sad when Candace Cameron Bure or Lacey Chabert are finding their one true love in picture-perfect settings?

There actually is an app you can download to make sure you don’t miss any of the movies. You can also Google “Christmas movie-watching blanket” and find dozens of gift options if watching the flicks under your everyday blanket just isn’t an option.

My younger sister spends more time in front of the television — snuggled under her personalized blanket and with remote in hand — during this time of year than any other. She loves the stereotypical storylines of hope and merriment, the happy endings and the first kiss under the mistletoe.

I’m really not a cynic. I do love a good love story, but I can do without the predictability.

Here’s the premise of nearly every Lifetime or Hallmark Christmas movie: Mary (or Joy-Holly-Belle-Angel-Carol-Noelle) loses her job in the big city near the end of the year so she moves to a small town to take care of her ill father, and she goes into the local pharmacy to get her dad’s medicine and she (literally) runs into Chris (or Nicholas or Noel), the local plaid-shirted lumberjack with the amazing eyes who recently lost his wife to an illness and is very lonely and his kids miss their mother and he’s not looking forward to the holidays. (Coincidentally, he drives a vintage pick-up truck that is perfect for hauling the perfect hand-cut Christmas tree.) They both drop their purchased items on the floor, look up slowly, lock eyes and have a fun little laugh about their “misfortune.”

“It’s cold outside,” he says to her. “Let me make it up to you by buying you a cup of hot chocolate at the little malt shop (or beverage cart) conveniently located next door.”

They go on their impromptu date and have a swell time and fall madly in love with each other in this town where it never snows. Except for today — at the very moment they finish their warm drink and put on their heavy coats and go outside, the snow lightly falls against the backdrop of the streetlights, which are just starting to turn on as nightfall arrives. The scene ends with a kiss. Fade to black. The end.

I’m close, aren’t I?

How about one with a downtown Winter Garden setting? Florida is experiencing an abnormally cold winter, the Winter Garden water tower has sprung a leak, Plant Street has frozen over, and all the residents — who just happened to find BOGOs on ice skates on Amazon Prime yesterday — are skating up and down the main corridor and rediscovering their high school loves. And the chocolate shop is handing out free hot drinks. Cue the festive music.

I’ll call it “The Wonder of a ‘Winter Garden.’” Does anyone know anybody at Hallmark corporate?

It seems everywhere you look you can find some reference to these feel-good movies. This is the time of year that the memes make their rounds on social media. Here are some gems for you:

“Basically, Hallmark has made 437 Christmas movies using 17 actors, five locations and three different plots.”

“Please remember: Christmas is not about buying expensive gifts. It’s about going home to your small town and falling in love with Ryan Reynolds.”

“Does every Hallmark Christmas movie have the same plot? Yes. Am I still going to watch them and act surprised when Susan falls in love with the small-town baker who only wears sweaters instead of falling for the big-city CEO? Yes.”

“When will they make a Hallmark Christmas movie about a mom who slowly loses her mind because no one appreciates her and by the end she sets fire to the Christmas tree and maniacally throws all the presents in the snow and runs down the street in her bathrobe screaming obscenities?”

One comedian wrote: “I watched a Hallmark movie backward. A woman in an ugly Christmas sweater dumped her loser, small-town boyfriend to pursue a law career in NYC where she lived happily ever after in pencil skirts and amazing shoes.”

I saw a TikTok last week where a woman drove several hours to pick up a gift from a specialty shop, and the story unfolded like a sugar-and-sweets Christmas movie when she shared she was going on a blind date with a Christmas tree farmer. Even the store was perfectly decorated for the season.

The comments accompanying the TikTok were exactly what I expected; people were speculating how the date went. One commented: “In true Hallmark movie fashion, the Christmas tree farmer is actually her long-lost sweetheart and they got married that night on the tree farm they saved.” Another continued: “After helping a pregnant horse deliver twin foals they name Merry and Bright and save the town from an avalanche.”

Those are my kind of people. We should probably get together and create our own TV channel and produce round-the-clock movies with over-the-top storylines. They are sure to be hits during the holidays. I’ll see if Candace and Lacey are available.



Amy Quesinberry

Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.