Surviving Romantic Christmas Movies

It's here again--that time of year when special "holiday" programming floods the television. I'm not a scrooge. I'm down for a few shows or movies about snowy nights, sledding, unconditional love, selfless giving, puppies, and even a little romance. So don't mistake me for a hater of all that is cute and cuddly; but I'll be upfront about it. Some things come on television this time of year can only be described as lame. Having the word 'Christmas' or 'Holiday' in the title does not give writers and producers a free pass to broadcast mediocrity and lack of creativity to millions of households. This needs to stop.

Let's get something straight: I am not criticizing people who watch these movies, because I have watched many of them (whether or not I was willing). That's how I know how bad they are. And the plot thickens, because my wife loves nearly every Christmas movie ever made. We came to a compromise in which she can watch terrible cinematography, and I will sit by her, so long as she allows me to blog about how terrible it is instead of paying attention to the story line. So I've broken down the process of being trapped by one of these movies. I'm hoping some of you can learn from my mistakes and find better exit strategies.

Phase 1: Infection (Discovery)

My wife finds out about a movie and begins telling me I will watch it. This is a touchy situation because a decent husband wants to spend time with his wife. I like sitting on the couch with her and watching football or some other  mutually-enjoyed television programming. I wouldn't call TV "quality time", but at least we're warm and comfortable together on the couch. So when she discovers a gem of a Christmas movie and starts getting all excited about it, I don't want to spoil her cheer and play the part of the scrooge every single time.

Phase 2: Evasion

I scramble for reasons why we just can't watch that movie. This never works. Move on.

As a side note: I hate the Hallmark Channel because they play every Christmas movie at least ten times in December. How am I supposed to find a conflict with ten different times? This new breed of evil cannot be tolerated.

Phase 3: Negotiation

If I watch this pitiful movie, she will watch one of the following movies with me:

1. Star Trek of my choosing

2. Sci-fi action movie with vampires, aliens, or avatars
3. Movie based on a story by J. R. R. Tolkien

This actually worked last year and I got her to watch Star Trek: Into Darkness. There would have been no other way. I have a list for after this holiday season that includes World War Z, Elysium, Oblivion, and After Earth. Most other movies I can convince her to watch without this much coercion.

As an alternative, I negotiate terms relating to how much I have to pay attention to the TV. Am I allowed to play on my iPhone or laptop? After negotiations are through, the movie begins.

Phase 4: Movie

Last night we watched a Christmas movie. I was on the laptop the entire time. In fact, I was writing some of this blog. I began thinking about the common annoyances present in most Christmas movies and decided to record them here. Perhaps you have noticed the same thing, or perhaps you're going to de-friend me on Facebook after reading this post. You win some; you lose some. 

Here is my list of annoyances:

A. Predictability (Boredom)

An interesting thing happened last night. Without reading the synopsis or ever hearing about this movie, I knew what was going to happen within five minutes of the beginning, and I was only partially paying attention. While this is not restricted only to Christmas movies, it is rampant among them. If you're going to make a movie, please script it so it's somewhat interesting. Design some twists.

B. Overuse of the word "believe"

I can only imagine this is an attempt to appease the largely Christian audience targeted by Christmas movies. The problem is 98% of the time the word is used, it has nothing to do with Christian belief. It is usually in reference to believing in ghosts, spirits, wizards, dragons, flying saucers, magic, or the good old North Pole propaganda. Say what you want about my Christmas "spirit", but Santa Claus is stupid, and I will never teach my kids to believe the myths. They will be better off for it. Movies about flying reindeer and jolly saint Nick may still grace my television, but only for the purposes of some good old mythological entertainment.

C. Detachment from reality

Pay attention to your next romantic Christmas movie. I mean, turn on your brain and pay attention. Notice anything strange? How about everything! How about a story about the girl that is flat broke and just can't seem to make ends meet, then to find love she flies to Europe and meets her very own Brad Pitt look-alike while skiing in the Swiss Alps. Uh huh. 

Here's another classic Christmas romance tactic: have two guys (or girls) competing for the same woman (or man). One of the competitors is insensitive, cunning, mildly attractive, hates children and puppies, drives a $50,000 car and only cares about money and power. The other competitor is sweet, loving, compassionate, understanding, gorgeous, experienced with solving whatever trouble the sought-after individual is having, and cares deeply for the star character after having known him/her for a total of 51 hours. Life's choices should only be so difficult.

Last one, I promise. I mean, there's more, but we all have things to do besides this blog. Watch people in the background when the "perfect couple" are about to finally get together and allow all that pent up dopamine to get released into the synapses of your prefrontal cortex (= you feel good). What should you watch for? Watch for how all those background, extra strangers seem to be keenly interested in whether the couples kisses. And if said couple does kiss, the entire background of strangers erupts into joyous applause, song, and dance. Okay, I'm exaggerating--they don't sing.

Phase 5: Recovery

I hope to find something to watch or do after the movie. Maybe sports are on. Maybe I can read a book, or blog. I am firmly convinced that enough exposure to these movies without adequate post-movie rehabilitation will lead to a chronic loss of IQ. 

Be careful out there folks; and have a very Merry Christmas season!

Image credits:
Christmas ornaments from
Running guy from
Spock (Zachary Quinto) from
Yawning baby from

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