Have a Heartwarming Holiday

By Meg Walburn Viviano 

I’d like to begin this issue on a polarizing subject: Hallmark Christmas movies. This ultra-cheesy holiday tradition is loved by millions of Americans—and just might be despised by an equal number.  

Hallmark Channel churns out literally dozens of new made-for-TV Christmas movies each year (40 new films for 2020 alone). The network’s Countdown to Christmas schedule began October 23—yes, even before Halloween. The movies come with names like Jingle Bell Bride and Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Sweater. They’re known for following similar “true meaning of Christmas” plots, and they’re not exactly the kind of material film critics rave about. (To that point, our own CBM Bay Weekly Moviegoer, Diana Beechener, is a good sport and puts forth an entertaining review of the Hallmark title Christmas She Wrote this week (https://bayweekly.com/moviegoer-christmas-she-wrote/). 

In an informal poll of my CBM colleagues and friends, the Hallmark movie scorners joked that they’re “too cynical” or “too cold-hearted” to stomach the films. Husbands, especially, admitted to fleeing the room when the Hallmark Channel is on. 

Yet, despite saturating their own market with predictable romantic plots, Hallmark’s movies continue to be wildly popular. The network reports it was the most-watched cable TV channel during Thanksgiving week. Why? My friends who admit to keeping the movies on all season long say the movies are easy to watch, good for turning one’s brain off. The promise of a guaranteed “happily ever after” certainly offers a comforting escape from the dire realities of living in a pandemic. Don’t we all need a little heartwarming content to balance out 2020? 

In this Bay Weekly issue, we offer you stories to warm the heart, only ours are true, and happening right here in Chesapeake Country. (We promise there aren’t any big-city girls finding the meaning of Christmas in quaint small towns in our stories.) 

We’ll show you a new holiday tradition underway just over the Bay Bridge, which raises funds for struggling commercial watermen in Anne Arundel County as well as those on the Eastern Shore. We meet the tireless volunteers who lay Christmas wreaths on the headstones of military members who served our country. And finally, there’s the ultimate holiday gift: COVID-19 survivors are now giving a piece of themselves to prevent more patients from becoming seriously ill, in the form of plasma donations (https://bayweekly.com/a-gift-of-life/). 

Yes, there are some pretty special, pretty selfless efforts taking place here on the Bay—now doesn’t that makes for a heart-warming holiday tale?