Having Myself a Merry Little Heartache

A switch has flipped. I watched a clearly addictive made for Netflix holiday film, and before I could say feliz navidad, the very blood in my veins transformed to red and green glitter. I haven’t been able to stop watching romantic, mostly-made-for-television holiday movies. From┬áthis unexplored and eerily consistent genre, I have learned a few things about the meaning of Christmas, and I’ve also learned, quite frankly, that Hillary Duff has a sister named Haylie and she is the Beyonce of whatever this is. It seems that there are a LOT of these, and I can’t stop watching them; I just finished one. I’m watching one now.

Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash

This may be the most heteronormative type of movie that I know about. Christmas Romance, or Chrismance, as I’ve just decided to call it, leans heavily on gender roles to drive the plot forward. For example, a man will arrive on a snowmobile to rescue a figure skater without chains on her tires, or a woman will bake Christmas cookies to learn how to care for people (and yes, these are both examples from movies I’ve watched in the last 24 hours). There is also a stunning lack of ethnic diversity in most Chrismances, especially in the made-for-tv offerings.

Chrismanticism also hinges on a knows / doesn’t know what’s really important dichotomy. Someone is always out of touch, spoiled, hurt by a past love, afraid to live life to the fullest, etc. Maybe this is what grabs me by the jingle bells about this whole mess: I’m always both of those things, always afraid but with the best intentions. Always spreading cheer and trembling with hesitation.

Or perhaps it’s the colors. Chrismances shimmer with open doorways that lead into warm glowing holiday parties and jewel-bright green scarves and deep red wines. Every home is a mansion and every Christmas dinner has room for more around the table. Every trip out of town is bucolic and every sunset will open your heart. Every snowfall makes you stay longer in the beautiful inn, just long enough to fall in love.

My breath quivers like a bowl full of jelly as each (too-straight and too-white and too-wealthy) couple gets that sad, sweet glimmer of hope in their eyes when they realize that they’re standing in front of the person they love. Well, bury me with a stake of holly through my heart, because this is killing me with kindness, y’all. I want to savor the sweet fear of every missed opportunity, every moment before that final happy-ending kiss.

And when that kiss comes, tears prickle from my eyes as I feel my happiness overflowing. I am a glittering star atop the tree, a cup of spiced cider in my own belly. I commune with these goofy, underproduced and badly acted movies and I rise above the snowy rooftops like the final pan shot, becoming a twinkling star in a sky full of other twinkling stars. I’m a part of “real America,” and there is always room for one more at my table.

So anyway, that’s why I haven’t been going out much.

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