As a single woman, Christmas was inevitably the time of year when I longed for a special someone. One such holiday season (with nary a date in sight), a friend and I were comparing notes on Hallmark movies. “I think they’re completely wonderful,” she said with a sigh. And though I know those movies to be completely predictable and sweeter than sugarplums, I nodded in agreement.
There’s something about Christmas that makes me a sucker for a good love story. As a single, falling in love always seemed more possible when there were Christmas lights, sparkly cookies and snowflakes about. Without a doubt, many of the romantic scenarios that danced through my head during the holidays were inspired by Hallmark movies.
A Formula for Holiday Romance
In recent years, these movies have become big business with an ever-increasing number being rolled out each year. As I continue to enjoy these movies, I have discovered some secrets to dating that can be found within. And so, I present to you the top 10 ways to date like you’re in a Hallmark Christmas movie.
1. Be really good at what you do.
If you are a writer, singer, artist, doctor, publisher or photographer at the top of your field, you will find love. Extra points if your profession happens to have a festive bent such as being a baker, a professional ice sculptor or a former Olympic ice skater. But beware, this talent often leads the main character (usually female) to have to make tough choices between love and career.
2. Date someone who is completely wrong for you.
Your current significant other (with whom you will inevitably break up) should be impatient, greedy, a workaholic, a grinch, or someone forcing you to be something you’re not.
3. Live in the big city and visit a small town.
You are either returning to the small town where you grew up or about to make some dubious business deal that will completely destroy the town’s culture.
4. Have a job but never seem to be working.
This one is important. Your business trip must appear to be a vacation, where you have ample time to visit local diners, toy stores and antique shops. Bonus points if you have a conversation with Santa, an elf, or a pediatrician.
5. Take a romantic walk down an uncrowded city street.
It should be cold, but you should have your coat unbuttoned to show off the cute sweater underneath. Extra points if it’s snowing (sorry if you live in Florida or Hawaii) or if you stop by a Christmas tree lot to pick out a tree.
6. Stumble upon a group of professional Christmas carolers
Preferably while walking down an uncrowded street in a sleepy town (see #5). These carolers should not be hard to locate. They always just appear at the right moment. Apparently they don’t work either.
7. Go down to the kitchen late at night to have some hot cocoa.
Do this with either your love interest, a parent, your love interest’s parent or someone you are conning with your shady business deal. Extra points if you also eat Christmas cookies. Extra-extra points if you made the Christmas cookies earlier that day.
8. Decorate a Christmas tree.
Bonus points if you trim the tree with your love interest’s child, who you are becoming increasingly attached to.
9. Make a big gesture.
Put on a production or fundraiser that saves the town. Propose a creative solution that convinces others not to follow through with the shady business deal. Present your love interest with the perfect, hard-to-obtain gift. Give up the amazing job offer to settle down in the small town.
10. Have a slight misunderstanding that can be resolved in five minutes.
For example, you are moving to another state for a job; you forgot to mention that you work for the company trying to destroy the town; your completely-wrong-for-you ex comes into town and tries to win you back; your plans for a big gesture are misinterpreted (a la “White Christmas”); you have a chance-of-a-lifetime job offer you don’t turn down quickly enough. The nature of the misunderstanding should be trivial as to not be a deal breaker. Once it’s cleared up, you will share a tender kiss and credits will roll.
Real Life Romance
Do all of these things and you’ll be on track for holiday romance, right? Of course not. We all know these kinds of movies aren’t realistic. So why do many of us like to watch them?
Last year an older gentleman told me that he and his wife love watching Hallmark movies. “They all have a happy ending,” he said. “Much of real life isn’t that way, so I enjoy seeing things just ‘work out.’” I think that’s been the appeal of Hallmark movies for me too. How wonderful if dating or finding a mate were so simple! Walk down the street, pick out a Christmas tree, share a cup of cocoa and “voila!”
And yet real life can be difficult for a singles — especially around Christmastime. In the end, I didn’t meet my husband during the holidays. In fact, I never dated someone at Christmastime. One Christmas I was sitting on my parents’ couch watching my nephews tear open gifts, and the next I was celebrating my first Christmas with my husband. That’s the beauty of real life. It’s more surprising than a movie ever could be. So watch the movies (I’ve watched three already) but remember that real life, while more complicated, is also extraordinary.
Copyright 2018 Suzanne Gosselin. All rights reserved.