A Story of Christmas Past
My grandma Karen watched Hallmark Christmas movies the way some people use an Advent wall calendar. She counted down to Christmas that way, settling into the couch every evening for the newest feature with the same cookie-cutter plotline as the night before; and she wanted us to relish them too. At Sunday lunch one time, she rehearsed Saturday night’s movie from its opening to the end credits, with every sugary detail between.
I was ten when Papa Larry and Nanny moved into the cul-de-sac at the end of our street, so I don’t remember many Christmas Cookie Bake Days at their old place. For me, Christmas at Nanny’s happened here, in this neighborhood. Cookie Bake happened there, in her new kitchen with enough counter space for every kid to roll dough. We wore aprons that had belonged to my great-grandma, and we baked up a storm, dusting flour on the counters and floors and our noses.
After a morning of baking, we’d carry our iced cookies and milk to the living room for a movie. I always hoped for “The Polar Express,” but sometimes, there was a Hallmark that Nanny just knew we’d love. By the commercial break, I could already tell how it was going to end— either because the plot was Rich-City-Girl-Meets-Charitable-Hometown-Guy, or because Nanny couldn’t contain herself and told us they’d end up together. I think that’s why Papa Larry didn’t stick around for movie hour. He’d usually roll around the corner in his wheelchair, make a comment about the predictability of it all, then roll back to his room to send emails.
I never blamed him.
But something happened after Nanny passed away. For one, we moved Cookie Bake Day to my sister’s kitchen, and we didn’t watch as many Hallmarks. The house on the cul-de-sac seemed big and quiet without Nanny, so Papa started leaving the TV on when he’d go to bed, and he left it on the Hallmark channel.
A few weeks ago, I took a meal down to Papa’s house, and I saw he’d parked his recliner right in front of the TV.
“It puts me to sleep,” he explained, “And do you know what does it? Those Hallmark movies! They put you right to sleep because they’re all the same!”
Papa’s a literary man, I’m a writer, and maybe that explains our distaste for a leftover plotline? But I realize now that Nanny’s love for Hallmark movies is the same reason I love “The Polar Express” or A Christmas Carol. Beneath my pickiness is a growling hunger for something good— for a happy ending.
Do they fall in love? Is the North Pole real? Will Scrooge repent and come to his nephew’s Christmas feast?
Ah, yes. All shall be well.
I can turn up my nose at Hallmarks, but I yearn for a Happily Ever After just the same. This Christmas, my family rented the hokiest, cringiest, sappiest Hallmark movie we could find, and we laughed together, telling each other how we knew it would end. Christmas was meant for that very thing, after all: for coming together and rehearsing a story we’ve heard two hundred times, and for reminding each other that we know how it ends— that all shall be well.
One thought on “All Shall Be Well”
I love your memories from happy times with your Nanny! She always used to tell me about your cookie days, and I have carried on that tradition with my grandkids. That is our plan for next weekend, in fact! I’m so glad you have those wonderful memories to cherish❤️
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