I don’t have a lot of free time. Taking a moment to do something purely enjoyable for myself just doesn’t happen very often. I’ve learned to grab a little joy when I can, namely while simultaneously stress-working, worrying about the day ahead, and folding laundry after everyone has gone to bed. This is time I allow myself to put on some mindless entertainment that doesn’t require me to spend too much of the attention needed to finish my projects. This is why my beloved Hallmark movies are the perfect selection--they’re fun, wholesome, and formulaic enough to give only a percentage of my focus and still enjoy. During this time, I’ve learned a lot of life lessons. Due to the sheer quantity of movies I’ve seen, I’ve become something of an expert on the Hallmark Life in Hallmarkland. I’d like to share some of these shiny pearls of wisdom that I’ve learned from this excellent family programming.
Being a published author is easy
It’s amazing that we all aren’t authors! It is ironic that I am working on this particular goal, so at first I thought I only imagined that every other movie heroine was writing her book. But no--it isn’t my imagination. A large percentage of the protagonists or their love interests are in the writing profession. They are either in the stages of their first book, have hit an unfortunate block after a successful writing career, editing, publishing, publicizing, or promoting their novel, memoir, or blog. There is also a large population of newspaper columnists. The best part? Their books hit the shelves only weeks from the moment they conceive of the idea, making it super effective for the timeline of their enemies-to-lovers romance they have going with their biggest writing critic.
Most real estate is acquired through bequeathment
Maybe I’m just not related to the right people, but it seems a large amount of Hallmark movie characters are willed property after the death of a long-lost relative. Sure, there’s the run-of-the-mill bakeries, bookstores, B&Bs, and dude ranches, but also, that timely tragedy could result in sudden ownership of a historic mansion, an apple orchard, vineyard, or even an African safari resort! It’s always very inconvenient in the beginning, but usually evolves into the opportunity of a lifetime. If only less of these were joint bequeathments with a random handsome stranger (that you usually dated in high school). That tends to make property ownership a bit more sticky, to be sure.
Book stores and bakeries are highly successful business ventures.
Whether you build it from the ground up, or get left one in a will, you can never go wrong with a good book store or bakery business plan in your back pocket. Never mind that in the real world these businesses almost NEVER survive -- in Hallmarkland everyone wants good hardback book (the older the better!), and a nice fluffy cupcake to go with it. And not some small storefront, no, they want thousands of square footage of floor space to really spread out and enjoy the reading of pages and nibbling of baked goods. This is Econ 101 here people.
You are destined to be with your high school sweetheart.
This one only seems like bad news. In Hallmarkland, most thirty-somethings either remain unmarried or their first spouse tragically (and yet, somewhat insignificantly) passes away during the first decade or so after high school, leaving a large void that can only be filled by their first true love. Again, if you think this isn’t the best possible scenario for your life, you probably didn’t go to high school in Hallmarkland. There, the high school sweetheart is the supreme being--chiseled, gorgeous, smart, sensitive, beautiful inside and out. You only broke up in the first place because of time and circumstance--usually the tragic death of a parent that makes you unable to love at the time, or possibly you fell out of sync during a long-distance relationship while one of you was away at college earning a degree in architecture. Don’t worry--now that over a decade has passed, you finally have the wisdom you need to make it work. And only a small percentage of these folks actually had extremely lovable and well-adjusted kids or got a (gasp) divorce during this time apart, so you are emotionally available to fall in love once more.
People LOVE nostalgia.
If not proof enough from the high school sweetheart recycling, in Hallmarkland people prefer the past. If you are searching for a solid plan for a business development, or say, a town festival, you can’t go wrong with a nice old plan. People love the olden days, big dresses, fragile artwork, basically anything with dust. I can’t tell you how many promotions, jobs, towns, and relationships are saved with a literal or figurative walk down memory lane. It’s like Make America Great Again, but for the silver screen. You can’t go wrong.
Bosses are very understanding about dubious family emergencies.
Imagine you are up for the biggest promotion of your life. A huge client needs a very specific commercial jingle, shopping development blueprint, or completely detailed marketing plan by the next holiday--Valentine’s Day, Christmas Eve, you get the picture. But, low and behold, your grandfather falls off a ladder and breaks his arm during tulip season at your family tulip farm. Or even worse, your favorite aunt twists her ankle while shelving supplies at her bakery right before the big town cookie competition. You OBVIOUSLY must leave work and return home to help for a matter of weeks leading up to said holiday, because, priorities. Don’t worry--your boss will totally understand, and allow you to work from home as long as you check in at least three times via Skype. They won’t mind if there is a random goat or llama in the background (don’t ask me to explain, but somehow there is always an exotic farm animal in the background of these important work calls). The boss will get huffy on that third call, but something will happen soon after to remind them of your dedication to your job and why they need you to make the entire organization run. They will most likely offer you a promotion, but unfortunately you won’t be able to accept because you’ve found the meaning of life during that cookie competition. Tulip farming is where you truly belong. They will instantly understand that, and offer you an open door should you ever need it. You won’t.
These little gems aren’t all there is to learn from the Hallmark formula. I haven’t even begun to touch on how aunts are the most important family member, the art of the love triangle, wedding planning with a rich debutante mother-in-law-to-be, or the three characteristics you need in your sassy black friend. But, alas, I must return to my work and leave my dear Hallmarkland for now. Until next time. If I inherit a tulip farm in the meantime, I’ll be sure to let you know.