Christianity, Christmas, Holiday depression, Uncategorized

Not a Hallmark Movie

I have a confession to make –  I do not love Hallmark Christmas movies. I know this will come as a shock to my many friends who love nothing more than curling up on the couch on a cold winter night and being transported to a world where everyone lives in beautifully decorated homes filled to the brim with lights and wreaths. The women in these movies wake up with their makeup perfectly done so that they can jump into their designer clothes and pull gingerbread cookies out of the oven. The handsome men wear suits and have styled hair, Christmas Day always has snow and turkeys are placed on the table perfectly browned.  Ugh.

These movies depress me because my reality is closer to Christmas Vacation, Chevy Chases’s classic comedy about the earnest bumbler trying too hard to have the perfect holiday. In spite of everyone’s hard work, the family is getting on each other’s last nerve, the turkey is so overcooked it falls away to nothing, and a squirrel runs out of the Christmas tree. The mother, Ellen, sums it up when she says, “I don’t know what to say, except it’s Christmas and we’re all in misery.”

Part of my problem is that my Christmases growing up were pretty ideal. My mother, like most of the moms I knew, was a homemaker and worked hard at having a perfect Christmas for us. While I was at school she decorated the house, bought and wrapped the gifts, and baked cakes and pies. On Christmas morning I awoke to see that Santa had come and put a plethora of dolls and toys and clothes across the chairs in the living room for my sister and me. Mama and my grandparents looked on sleepily while Daddy filmed away on his home movie camera.

With our new baby strollers, 1962

The night before, Mama had set the dining room table with the soft white tablecloth and the good china, had placed card tables in the living room with colorful red tablecloths and put the huge coffee percolator on the kitchen counter. Now all she had to do was get herself dressed, clean up the breakfast dishes, fix the macaroni and cheese and put the fatback in the green beans. The extended family would arrive with lots of hugs and kisses and loud talking and we would eat and then watch while our grandparents opened their presents. The day would end for me stretched in front of the TV.

Now as the holiday season begins I feel the Christmas depression waiting in the background, ready to creep in. It’s not that I don’t enjoy many things about this time of year. I love the music, lights, special programs at church, and time with friends and family. But mixed in with the joy of the season are often tears just on the surface for reasons I can’t explain. They come from a mixture of nostalgia for those perfect Christmases of my childhood, sadness over the loved ones who are no longer here and feelings of inadequacy for falling short of the Hallmark movie ideal.

I suspect others feel this way too. During these weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, everything in life is magnified, as if we were all living inside a giant snow globe. If we are having financial difficulties, the constant barrage of ads and expectations for gifts makes it worse. If we are struggling with our weight or with drinking too much, the gifts of goodies and special dinners put more temptation in our way. If we have lost a loved one the memories of past years make the grief that much more to bear. If we are far from our families, or have very few family members at all, then the loneliness comes barreling out at us in a way that is hard to ignore. If our family is in any way short of the perfection shown on the commercials and Hallmark movies, then we feel even more like failures.

I’m working on not expecting so much of myself this year. I still love putting up the tree with all of its ornaments that remind me of people I love and memories of family times together, but other than slapping a few wreaths on the front windows, that is the extent of my decorating. I’m making sure to get to bed on time and to keep up my running and to not overindulge at every tray of Christmas cookies. Even when my schedule gets busier than usual, I’m keeping my appointment with God each morning and I’m concentrating on doing what I can for others.

I know that I will have times that I feel down and I’m okay with that. God will be there for me and together we will wobble through. After all, I have lots in my life to be thankful for and I don’t want to let past memories overshadow that.

The following verses are on my phone wallpaper for this holiday season and they remind me that God will carry me through until I can breathe a sigh and get back to normal in January:

9 thoughts on “Not a Hallmark Movie”

  1. We share similar memories and feelings!! You did a beautiful job depicting a time gone by and the sadness that accompanies part of remembering! We have new memories now and the good news is we are still all together!! Can’t wait for Carolyn’s Coconut Pie.


  2. Oh Millicent you spoke right to my heart! Especially of the Christmases of days gone by and missing our loved ones. My mom always worked so hard to have the Halllmark Christmas for the family and I will remember how meticulous she was draping that tinfoil tinsel just perfectly on the tree when all we kids wanted to do was roll it up in little metal balls and throw it at each other. So many wonderful memories but hurtsmto think f them too. Also this is our first without my dad and it’s heartbreaking. In Walmart I broke down in front of the display for chocolate covered cherries…my dads favorite and I always bought them for him especially from me…it was a running joke for,him to,shake,the carefully wrapped box and smile saying I wonder what this is.
    Prayers that for all of us Gods love and light shine through the tears. Take care and Happy Thanksgiving for we are all So blessed!


  3. Sindy, I did not know your dad had died! How did I miss that? I’m so sorry! Keith thought so much of him. This will be our first Christmas without Adam home, so it will be different. Every year there are changes and I’m looking forward to the day when we’ll have some little ones around. You will be in my prayers this season


  4. This is so totally me!!

    On Sun, Nov 20, 2016 at 6:54 PM Under the Magnolia Tree wrote:

    > maflake posted: “I have a confession to make – I do not love Hallmark > Christmas movies. I know this will come as a shock to my many friends who > love nothing more than curling up on the couch on a cold winter night and > being transported to a world where everyone live” >


    1. blockquote, div.yahoo_quoted { margin-left: 0 !important; border-left:1px #715FFA solid !important; padding-left:1ex !important; background-color:white !important; } So glad to know others feel this way too! Enjoy your break!

      Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPad


  5. As usual you have hit it on the head. My memories also involves riding in cars. From Atlanta to Athens when I was a kid on Christmas morning. Then when I married we went to Harold’s mom’s house in Mt. Airy (outside of Cornelia, GA) on Christmas Eve and then on to Athens. We lived either in Gainesville, Cumming or S. GA and I guess Acworth. I was always so tired as an adult by the time Christmas morning arrived that I could have just laid down and slept. I miss all those that have passed away but do have my son and his family which contains two precious grandkids (now they are the ones driving from Acworth to Hayesville, N. C. on Christmas morning.) But I do miss not having them here to go to Christmas Eve service at church. We all just need to remember “The Reason for the Season” and slow down and breathe. Wishing you a wonderful Christmas Day and “Happy Birthday Jesus”.


    1. blockquote, div.yahoo_quoted { margin-left: 0 !important; border-left:1px #715FFA solid !important; padding-left:1ex !important; background-color:white !important; } Thanks Cathy! Every year we have to be flexible. I’m looking forward to the grandchildren stage in a few years! Glad you are feeling well and hope your holiday month is great!

      Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPad


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