Christmas · Movies

We Need a Little Christmas in the Neighborhood

Whomever you've been thinking about, how pleased they must be to know the difference you feel they have made.r

Dear Susan,

We need a little Christmas – NOW! While I know you had a great 2018, I also know the rest of us are more than ready to see the year end. For us, the year had a rocky start, and the avalanches just kept coming. It is no wonder then, that I joined the rest of my hometown in starting the Christmas season well before Thanksgiving. If you didn’t get the lighted dear trio at our new Costco shortly after it opened on October 19, you were out of luck (BTW, we got the deer. Oh, yes, we did indeed.). On October 22, Sirius XM announced it would launch a record 16 holiday stations and we had the channels that went live on November 1 programmed in by sundown (with convenient dashboard guides made by yours truly). Garland and wreaths were running low the second week in November. Tickets to the holiday shows at our local theaters were in short supply by Thanksgiving. I suspect that if 2019 continues as did 2018, we will be launching Christmas again in June, which would put Advent shortly after Easter.

As you know from last year, I have become an aficionado of Hallmark and Lifetime holiday movies. Perhaps sensing the national mood, Hallmark’s “Countdown to Christmas” started on October 27, with Happy the dog as its mascot (Did you see him at the National Dog show?).  The Hallmark Channel and its sister network, Hallmark Movies and Mysteries set another record this season, airing 37 new seasonal films this year, compared to Lifetime’s 14.  I even have the Countdown app downloaded to check off the new Hallmark movies I have seen. So far, I have watched 9 out of the 22 on Hallmark’s main channel.  I haven’t done as well with “Miracles of Christmas,” mainly because I can’t find the channel easily. You would think they would be together. I digress. My husband and in-laws are genetically pre-disposed to cry at these movies, and Ashby and I have created a special birthday gift for grandpa (see picture). We have already had requests to make more. This Thanksgiving, we literally couldn’t stop watching these movies, apart from a few breaks for key football games. Speaking of which: A&M fans. Respect. I digress, again.


Happy the Dog

Being in the holiday movie club has many advantages. You not only get to see the latest in red and green outerwear and red pickup trucks, you get to watch the drama behind green poinsettias, Christmas tree farms/bakeries/family businesses about to go under, evil developers replacing charming, historic buildings/stores/family estates with condos/parking lots/ mega-stores. There are a plethora of young men and women being hired to pose as boyfriends/girlfriends/fiancé(e)s. Really? Where were they when I was dating?

And so, the game is afoot. Lifetime got high marks from us for The Christmas Contract a movie that reunites the One Tree Hill cast, a show I have never seen. Already this year, I have gotten to watch TWO versions of Pride and Prejudice, re-done Hallmark-style (Surprisingly, Ted’s eye-rolling was limited): Hallmark Princess Lacey Chabert in Pride, Prejudice, and Mistletoe and Christmas at Pemberley Manor, starring Jessica Lowndes, another Hallmark Princess who looks a lot like Ted’s cousin, Pam. We call her Not-Pam around our house. We both loved the subtle notes of A Christmas Carol in A Shoe Addict’s Christmas starring Hallmark Queen Candace Cameron Bure and Jean Smart.


Perhaps the real star of the show has been Hallmark’s latest “When you care enough,” ad campaign featuring a voice-over by Fred Rogers, from his Emmy acceptance speech in 1997. This two-minute spot not only gets Ted going for the tissues every time, it has even caused my eyes to glisten ever so slightly. While accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award, Mr. Rogers did not thank everyone he ever knew but he invited the audience to join him in spending 10 seconds thinking of the people who “have loved us into being.”:

So many people have helped me to come here to this night.  Some of you are here, some are far away and some are even in Heaven.  All of us have special ones who loved us into being.  Would you just take, along with me, 10 seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are, those who cared about you and wanted what was best for you in life.  10 seconds, I’ll watch the time. Whomever you’ve been thinking about, how pleased they must be to know the difference you feel they have made.  You know they’re kind of people television does well to offer our world.  Special thanks to my family, my friends, and my co-workers in Public Broadcasting and Family Communications, and to this Academy for encouraging me, allowing me, all these years to be your neighbor.  May God be with you.  Thank you very much.

That, in a nutshell, sums up the Christmas Spirit we need so much right now.  In fact, we need it every day of the year. We need the time to take a moment of silence – when someone else can watch the time for us – to think about those who have shown us love and recall the difference they have made in our lives. I don’ regret starting Christmas early this year. Leave it to Mr. Rogers to teach us this. I hope I can keep it going as long as possible.


May God be with you,


One thought on “We Need a Little Christmas in the Neighborhood

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