By Alicia Searl, Crosswalk.com
The Countdown to Christmas Hallmark movies are in full swing! But, in all honesty and complete transparency, I won’t be watching any of them. While the Hallmark channel has always been dubbed as the official place to be when you are looking for heartwarming holiday movies, if you are (or were) a true fan, then you most likely have taken notice of some of their extreme changes, especially over the past couple of years. It has been disheartening, to say the least, and I would be lying if I didn’t say that all of this has felt like a bitter and bad break-up.
The sad part is that the Hallmark Christmas movies once held a very special place in my heart and brought forth such sweet, nostalgic memories. As a college girl, I remember coming home for the holidays, ready to cozy up on the couch with fuzzy socks to watch those simply sweet and magical movies. Sometimes, my mom, sister, and I would wrap gifts while they played in the background; other times, my dad would make us popcorn and cocoa, but they were always a huge part of my teen and early adult years.
Since then, Hallmark has only grown and become so widely popular that the “Countdown to Christmas” movies generally begin to premiere in mid-October, bringing a rave of excitement. However, sadly, they have forgotten their humble roots. A considerable part of their success was built around bringing wholesome and family-friendly films, allowing its viewers to tap into their own fairy tale heart and get into the spirit of Christmas.
In essence, these feel-good films just made us “feel good!” The best part is they were essentially free from offensive language and explicit or questionable content and were generally quite innocent. This is why so many tuned in. They enjoyed the simple magic these simply sweet movies had to offer.
Unfortunately, Hallmark has taken a bit of a detour in the last few years and, like many big corporations, has begun to embrace the demands of our ever-changing culture. As believers, we must be cautious here and recognize that while we can approach this issue with Truth, love, and grace, we mustn’t conform to the ways of this world (Romans 12:2).
That said, let’s unpack some reasons to be cautious about watching the latest Hallmark movies. But don’t lose hope, my friend; there is an alternative, so stick with me until the very end!
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Andrii Lysenko
1. The Message Is Messy
While Hallmark has dedicated itself to dishing out movies that deliver cheesy, predictable plots with a charming small-town feel, it completely misses the mark on the true meaning of Christmas! While the general storyline involves two people who happen to stumble upon each other and hopelessly fall in love in a matter of days, all surrounding lush garland, twinkling lights, and those lavish classic fir trees, there is rarely, if any, mention of Jesus!
This has not always been the case. Growing up, I distinctly remember watching these movies that may have had a little poorer acting and not so many over-the-top Christmas scene setups, but they prayed to God at the dinner table and went to church on Christmas Eve. There was an evident theme that “Christ” was in Christmas (Luke 2:81-14). Now, the message has become messy as Christ has basically been replaced with getting in tune with finding your own way and following your heart.
As believers, we have the assurance that God directs our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6), and we can seek Him for wisdom and guidance in our lives. When it comes to matters of the heart, we must realize that our heart can get us into a lot of trouble, misleading us and bending us toward sin (Jeremiah 17:9-10). Many Christmas movies may miss the message of Christmas, but today’s Hallmark movies clearly deliver a message that focuses on us and our happiness rather than on God and His holiness (John 14:6).
2. The Agenda Is Clear
As of 2019, Hallmark had been alluding to making some changes and slowly began adding same-sex couples to their storylines. While this is still a very sensitive and highly controversial issue, we must address it.
Let me start with a personal story. In 2020, I still had a love for Hallmark, and it often played in the background from November 1 until Christmas, so this particular day was no different. Hallmark was on in the living room as I cooked dinner in the kitchen. That’s when my then five-year-old slowly strolled in, looking quite bewildered. Not knowing what was going on, I asked what was wrong. When she said, “Two boys are kissing in your movie, Mommy,” I nearly became unglued! What!
Now, I know we live in a world that is rapidly changing and embracing much of the cultural views of love, but as followers of Jesus, we must stand upon one view – and that is the Truth that God is love, and He is the only One that gets to define it! The Bible is clear: our God is love (1 John 4:7-21), He tells us what love is (1 Corinthians 13: 4-7), and He gives us the beautiful gift of a covenant found in the sacred union of marriage, meant to be shared between one man and one woman (Genes 2:24, Hebrews 13:4, Proverbs 18:22, 1 Peter 3:7).
Friend, we must guard the hearts and minds of our children in a world that is grossly trying to steal their innocence, purity, and precious identity, all while leading them away from the goodness found in God’s amazing love. Now is the time to stand firm and take a stand. Unfortunately, I had to have a very difficult conversation with my daughter that day, one I was not prepared for in the least. But I made the firm decision that day that Hallmark would no longer be allowed in our home.
Related Podcast Episode: Why Are So Many People Obsessed with Hallmark Films?
3. The Storyline Spurs on Comparison
It really is ever so easy to slip into the comparison game when watching these movies, from every drapery delicately woven on the beautiful wood stair banisters to the families that seem to have no real heated debates. And then there’s the implication that love is effortless, comes quickly, and is usually brought on by a swift change in career that just so happens to be positively perfect.
Oh, and did I mention how these couples meet, fall in love in a matter of days, and live in a Christmas village that is decked out like the North Pole? Or that in their quaint little mountain town, everyone is super friendly, knows each other on a first (and second) name basis, and extends a warm glowing greeting along with a freshly baked cookie? Truly realistic, right?
Well, maybe you are blessed enough to live in a precious little town that embraces the warmth of Christmas, or you have family members who generally get along. Maybe you have a career you truly love and are married to someone who makes it feel like you live in a fairy tale. While we must recognize our own blessings and sincerely thank God for them, we must also recognize just how easy it is to get caught up in the “dreamy” land of Hallmark.
The truth is we can very easily be led to believe that what we have isn’t enough or that our homes, communities, and places we live just aren’t doing it for us. But these comparisons only rob us of real joy (2 Corinthians 10:12) and discount our own bounty of blessings.
4. The Addiction Is Alluring
The countdown to Christmas gets earlier every year. Now, it begins in mid-October and runs through the beginning of January. The temptation to have it streaming in the background or to sit and watch one right after the other is there, no doubt. Especially since they run 24/7, you can even put the kids to bed and watch them all night if you want.
When my husband and I first got married, I used to make him watch them with me. Being the sweet guy he was (and still is), he happily agreed. But after a few of them, he got his fill (he’s more of an adventurous type of moviegoer), and I could tell he was done. Yet, I kept watching them, one right after the other. I even invited ladies and my mom and sister over to join in the fun, and it literally became a season of binge-watching Hallmark movies. However, in time, I noticed it was causing a subtle drift in my marriage.
All that to say, we must be able to manage our time wisely (Ephesians 5:15). Not only that but while these movies are quite alluring and can cause us to slip into the pattern of mindless watching, the message that is constantly being placed in front of us is not necessarily a good one, especially with the most recent of films. During a season that calls us to celebrate the “good news,” surround ourselves with those we love, and give glory to our God, we must keep that front and center so we can welcome and receive peace and great joy!
Hope Beyond Hallmark
Okay, my fellow sappy romantic friends, maybe you feel a bit discouraged now. I feel you. After Hallmark went in a direction I chose not to go, I wanted (and needed) an alternative. I watched many old Christmas movies, sparking on many precious memories. I mean, is there anything better than It’s a Wonder Life? But I still missed those sappy, heartwarming, and lighthearted movies that just brought me sweet Christmas cheer! Then I stumbled upon Great American Family, which has a channel devoted just to Christmas (GAC).
Y’all, I’m smitten! These shows are not only wholesome, but they bring in real-life situations and stories that we can all relate to and simply enjoy. The best part is that Candance Bure is leading a charge for change and making a point to bring back and add more spiritual and faith-based content in these movies, making them all the more magical and meaningful. So, grab your cocoa and cozy socks, and settle in because these inspiration flicks are bound to get you in the Christmas spirit and possibly the right frame of mind.