I hear the rain clattering on the skylight and even though it’s only teatime, I turn on the lights. The whistling kettle on the stove beckons me to the kitchen where I finish making myself a hot mug of super rich chocolately cocoa. It feels like the appropriate thing to do, particularly as I’m about to wrap myself in a furry throw blanket and relax with a feel-good Christmas movie. It’s what I like to do on chilly, dull November Sunday afternoons or evenings.
Apparently I’m not the only one tuning in to watch seasonal entertainment on television these days.
According to TV By the Numbers, the Hallmark movie “Marry Me at Christmas” which premiered October 28th of this year drew a U.S. cable audience of 3.37 million viewers. It beat out viewership of football games broadcast on ESPN and tied for second among adults 18-49 years of age. Its closest rival was the 9 am show, “Fox and Friends Saturday” at 2.10 million viewers.
Based on a Washington Post article earlier this year, Hallmark is the only U.S. non-news channel to show a gain in ratings in 2016. Its prized Christmas line-up boosted it even further, putting Hallmark shoulder-to-shoulder with huge competitors like Fox News in November and December. Their ratings are growing fastest among the 18-49 year old adults and that includes both men and women alike.
Hallmark appears to be the largest producer of Christmas movies, premiering 21 new productions during their ‘Countdown to Christmas’ this year. From what I’ve been able to discern, Lifetime’s is second with 6 new additions to their ‘It’s a Really, Really Cozy Christmas’ special.
(Hallmark channel content airs periodically on W Network and Bravo in Canada. As for Holiday entertainment, I discovered that W Network, Bravo and Lifetime schedules include one or more Christmas movies almost daily right now.)
Many refer to these movies as ‘cheesy’ and somewhat apologetically admit they tune in and watch at least a few of them every year. Personally, I like these ‘fluff’ pieces. They are a welcome escape from our fast-paced, diverse and divisive world offering us heartwarming, wholesome stories that always have happy endings. And somehow they never fail to awaken the Christmas spirit within me. My holiday preparations seem to take on an added sparkle after watching a few of these sentimental flicks.
I believe the appeal of Christmas movies is that the people in them struggle with the same issues we all do: dysfunction in our families, loneliness, financial difficulties, challenges with careers and/or bosses and coworkers, and the list goes on and on. Yet somehow the characters manage to turn around their most pressing trouble. They show us ways to let go of old hurts and welcome forgiveness, peace, redemption and love into our hearts. And even if the storyline does not always seem realistic, they never fail to trigger our emotions and remind us of what is really important in life: our relationship with others. And I believe that is the true meaning of Christmas.
“to give up one’s very self — to think only of others — how to bring the greatest happiness to others — that is the true meaning of Christmas” ~ Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (1843)
The microwave beeps, the popcorn is ready. It’s time to snuggle up, turn the lights down low and watch the magic unfold.