It's November, so let the holiday season begin! For me, that is binge watching Hallmark movies. Some people think that they are cheesy and predictable. When my son was little he called them fight, fight, kiss, kiss movies.
Did you know that research suggests that predictability creates a sense of comfort, it reduces anxiety and uncertainty within ourselves. So it is no wonder that I gravitate to these predictable treasures. Living with a terminal illness is the epitome of anxiety and uncertainty. An afternoon with a Hallmark movie is a sweet little escape from reality. A warm hug on a chilly day. Not only do Hallmark movies make me smile and feel joyful; I have learned many lessons along the way. Lessons on life, love, hope and loss. Life is full of highs and lows. Sometimes I don't know which way I am going. I take a break, turn on a Hallmark movie and boom! Inspiration galore. Such as, "By now you know life is full of ups and downs. Don't ever let that stop you from leading with your heart, for it is always better to walk life's path with love and faith then to stand still in fear and inaction."
I mean, come on! Walk life with love and faith, not fear and inaction. If that doesn't make you want to get out there and smell the Christmas cookies, maybe this will, " We are not put on this earth for ourselves, but are placed here for each other. If you are always there for each others, then in time of need someone will be there for you." Isn't that a comforting thought? Someone will be there for us when we need it.
One thing that made total sense from a Hallmark movies along that same vein is, "Kindness doesn't need to be repaid. Not if it's genuine. And letting others help you is just as much a gift as receiving it." Another beautiful line about gift giving is, "Gifts should be personal, heartfelt, and surprising. The perfect gift is the one you didn't know you wanted but upon receiving you couldn't live without."
Isn't that what life is always about? Being kind and giving/receiving the perfect gifts? A gift could be a bright sunny day or hearing your perfect jam on the radio, just when you need it. Hallmark makes everything better. I am going to make it weird... but these movies speak to my soul and give me the advice I need, right when I need it. That is the Christmas magic of Hallmark.
On days when I'm are stuck and worrying about taking a big leap in life? Not sure which path to take? Well, a good Hallmark movie tells me, "Some people believe you need to stay in your lane but if you stay in your lane the scenery gets mighty boring." Or this one, "As adults we forgot how to be curious. Forgot how to be open. We all need and benefit from having the curiosity of a child."
I think that is why I love Hallmark movies. Everyone takes a leap. They leap at building a snowman right in the moment. They try something new such as singing in the church choir, or creating something fun like the biggest gingerbread house. They will even leap at things they were afraid of doing; like moving to a new town or starting a career that they always wanted to do. Some people talk about the cheesiness of the plots of Hallmark movies, but if you examine the storyline there is a ton of brave moves going on. AND a lot of confessions, "Say what you have to say, it's scary but the heart will handle the rest." and, When you admit something you have never said before, that is vulnerability." I mean Hallmark is vibing with Brene Brown. If that doesn't speak to the solidness of the advice from a good Hallmark movie. I don't know what does.
We know that life can't remain the same. Seasons change. I am wrestling with the fact that my son is a senior and next year is going to look completely different. Hallmark reminds me that, "Things come and go. Enjoy them while they are here." and "Life is too precious to race through, sometimes you have to stop and appreciate what's around." Or this one, "You woke me up, if I'm always planning for the future, I won't be present for when the future actually comes. Be present for the moment, really experience the moment."
Living in the moment and cherishing his senior year is a test in staying present and continuing traditions.
One of my favorites Hallmark movie lines is, "Traditions are stories that families write together." We have many traditions wrapped into the holidays and other times of the year. I have loved every minute of creating these stories and I pray that I am here a long, long time to make more. I hope my son reminds himself of these stories; such as summers on Mackinac Island while he is away. I pray he will recreate these traditions in college or someday when he has a family of his own.
Hallmark even has advice for you to give your senior kids, "The world can be a magical place always be open to the potential surprises it can offer. Especially the one when you least expect it." and, "Soon you'll be walking across that stage and into the next stage of your life. So take a moment to think about where you have been, where you are, where you could be and don't be afraid. Change is inevitable, change is how we grow." Sometimes when you don't know what to say, Hallmark Christmas movie for the win!
I know our kids are nervous to be away from home but its important to remind them, "No matter where you are or how far you go you can look up, the stars will guide you home." Remember that, "Home isn't where you live, it's where you love." and "Home isn't a place. It's the people." Come on now! Have I changed your mind yet on the beauty and magic of Hallmark Christmas movies?
Christmas movies assist with living life to the fullest, encouraging and welcoming change and building leaders. Yes, you read that correctly. Hallmark also has great leadership advice, "Great leadership requires empathy, vision and transparency." and to, "Do the right thing because it's the right thing to do. Not to brag about it." Hallmark movies encourage people to share their gifts, (which sounds awfully close to advice I have read in the Bible), "When you posses something this perfect and unique you don't hide it on some shelf to collect dust. You put it out there for the world to see..." and "When you have a gift you don’t hide it under a bushel but you shine it for wherever it can do the most good." Isn't that what every good leader possess? Kindness and goodness?
Hallmark Christmas gives love and marriage advice too, "Stay open, you will find the love that you never knew that you wanted but desperately needed." and "Marriage isn't perfect. It's two imperfectly people working together." It's quite amazing when you pause to think about all the lessons provided in beautiful imagery during the most wonderful time of the year.
I am not sure what my future holds. This terminal cancer diagnosis creates this ambiguous space inside me where I don't know how long on have on this earth. It messes with my brain and my level of engagement in life. As Hallmark movies can be a form of escape, it also encourages me to stay present and jump in with both feet. Hallmark reminds me, "Christmas traditions are not about holding on to the past, but honoring our history and celebrating passage of time and sharing it with the people we love."
Sometimes, I pull away not wanting people to love me too much. Thinking, if I die they will be crushed. Hallmark tells me, "If you're interested in something no matter what it is, embrace it with both arms, hug it, and love it. And above all become passionate. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be."
I live passionately, love without boundaries and live full of the Christmas spirit year round. "The true meaning of Christmas is about love." "Christmas like Music, is like love. Love is learning the song in someone's heart and singing it when they need it most. It allows us to live in a magical world of our creation that exists beyond our own. Let's try to live there more often." These movies no matter how silly to others demonstrate kindness, love, and a dash of magic and miracles. It inspires me to believe in miracles and to live with hope.
Hallmark Christmas movies are full of hope and miracles. Some even have a beautiful spiritual component which is important as, "Jesus is the reason for the season." One of my favorite quotes is about God winks. "God winks is a new word for those little coincidences that aren't coincidences but come from divine origin. God winks are always a sign of hope." Hallmark reminds me, "At times God closes doors for reasons we may never know; but where there is faith there is hope and we hang on to that hope. With hope there is always another door that can open." Hallmark has encourage me to keep hoping and keep living. I have a bee in my bonnet to take a trip and find a town the embodies these virtues and puts on the biggest Christmas festival. Road trip anyone?
Christmas time is the time of miracles. It can also be a time for remembering those who are no longer with us. As it remain darker this time of year sometimes it is hard to keep a positive spirit.
Hallmark rides in on a sleigh with jingle bells a-ringing and reminds us, "Winter solstice is the shortest day of the year with the most darkness but it gets lighter now and that reminds me of hope." Christmas Hallmark movies remind me that big love may lead to big loss but our loves ones are all around us. "Just because someone isn't around doesn't mean they are not thinking about you." "Sometimes you don't know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory. Memories are the things we use to wrap us up and keep us warm at night. Even today no matter where I am I always feel warm thinking about those special nights." and "Snowflakes are like kisses from heaven." It's comforting to think about our love ones, that are no longer here, sending snowflakes kisses.
Have I done it? Are you converted? Going to go watch a Hallmark Christmas movie right now and find your own inspiration?
I want to end this blog with this, "Sometimes we hold on to things from our past that hold us back from moving on with our lives. Old rivalries, jealousies and sometimes some things that are too painful to remember at all. But maybe Christmas is about forgiving. Forgiving each other, forgiving ourselves and may be the only thing that's really truly important is where we are now; with friends and family old and new sharing with people we love. Cherishing Christmas memories we have, making new ones to share together. So the Christmas gift is to remember your past because it's what brought you here. Don't be afraid to embrace the present because if you live in the moment with hope, kindness and love. It's a great place to be."
Or perhaps quite simply, "Life is cake and cake is life."
So cozy up on the couch, grab your best snuggling blanket, light a candle and get a warm cup of your favorite beverage. Watch yourself a Hallmark Christmas movie. See if you can find some inspiration to fill your life. Or just enjoy the escape of watching something predictable and joyful. Take in the sights of the lights, decorations and quaint Christmas towns. Merry Christmas!