The First Third of the Christmas Movie


This weekend was a working one. I taught on Saturday and have numerous proofreads to do on top of a series of edits that need to be done for an article I have written which came back from my editor essentially dipped in virtual red ink. So instead of relaxing with Doctor Netflix and stew over a snowy and (oddly) rainy weekend, I was teaching, proofreading, and hunched over a computer looking for synonyms for “vengeance.”  

I know, I know. Woe is me, right? We all get under pressure and get stressed, especially when it comes to work related joys. And other than my obviously better looks and culinary prowess, I am no different from you.

What is bothering me currently is that it’s Christmas time.I am a sucker for the Christmas season. The lights, the music, even the hustle and bustle bring me some comfort at a time of year when the daylight is literally cut in half and my workload is literally doubled. And Prague puts up charming markets and the pubs are full of the revelers of employee Christmas party season.

But, whether due to stress or worry, I am just not noticing it all. I walk with my head down, get to my flat, work hard. I’ve consoled myself with the knowledge that there’ll be time for reveling when I get on a British Airways airplane on December 22nd and order whatever alcohol they can get me fastest. But for the moment, I am missing the season and I don’t like this.  

I fully buy into the belief that Christmas (like its predecessors)were bright spots in a dark, otherwise scary and dismal time of year. The cheery atmosphere and the yuletide mirth are meant to hold back the anxiety of pressure and darkness. And if you go beyond the ring of lights cast by your house or your neighborhood, it’s mostly dark and cold and scary out there.

A whole lot of Christmas movies play with this idea, don’t they? There’s often a character who’s stressed beyond words, under an immense pressure, or in trouble. George Bailey’s worries were existential, Ralphie’s were social and materialistic. But choose even the lowliest Christmas movie that Hallmark has to offer and you’ll see that everyone is struggling with something(as are most characters). Whether it’s loneliness, overwork, misplaced attention, or the need to find Bigfoot (truth), the main character of a Christmas movie usually spends the first third or so of the movie quite miserable.Sometimes they don’t even know why.

What we do know is that they won’t end the movie miserable. By the end they will have found the true meaning of Christmas, found the love they didn’t know they were looking for, resettled into the cozy little town that is more home than the big city where they are an ad exec. Something will change and their cold hearts will be penetrated by the Christmas Spirit and suddenly they will notice the lights, the mirth, the warmth, and the comfort. We, as viewers and no matter how corny we find it, know that this will happen. But they don’t.

The thing is, I currently feel as though I am in the first third of that movie. I am stressed, neglecting the lights and the fun. I haven’t hung one decoration, visited one market, or watched a Christmas movie. I’m also tightly-wound and irritable. I lectures the cat for ten minutes yesterday about turning off the faucet after drinking from it. When Burke accidentally broke a mug in the kitchen I was so angry my vision went blurry. When asked if I would attend the employee Christmas party this week I said “are you kidding? I have too much to do.” And I meant it!

I have become that Christmas character who is in need of aB-2 shot of Christmas Spirit. Now, in the movie, we’d know I was going to seethe light(s), appreciate the larger picture, and then come out of my funk for some big Christmas revelation. And while I hope that’s true, I feel as though I am allowing superficial stresses ruin one of my favorite times of year. Perhaps it’ll all have to wait until I work a butt groove into my seat on that airplane.Maybe I should watch only Christmas movies on the flight so my parents don’t pickup Ebenezer Scrooge on Saturday afternoon. Or maybe I’ll just blow off work in lieu of a Christmas market and hot wine. 

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