Warm Blankets, Hallmark Movies, and Our Inconsolable Longing for Home8 min read
Hallmark movies may be incredibly cheesy, but do they touch us on a deeper level?
I’m not much of a Hallmark movie guy. In fact, I regularly poke fun at my sister who probably has the channel on in the background at this very moment. Some of that dislike for Hallmark movies is because I find them completely predictable. And some of it is a lack of sentimentality in my life across the board. But what I lack in sentimentality I make up for in an abounding sense of longing for home. And it’s that longing for home that is my focus for this little reflection.
The majority of Hallmark movies kick off with the main character stuck in a rut (relational, financial, emotional, etc.) Maybe they’re a single mom barely making ends meet. Maybe they’re overworked, giving themselves wholly to their career and notably absent in their children’s lives. Maybe they’re dealing with strained family relationships from decades-gone sins. In other words, they kick off living entirely relatable lives. Things are clearly broken and it’s unclear to the main character how things could ever get any better. We feel for them because in some ways, we ARE them.
The Classic Hallmark Movie
As the story goes, as if by chance, someone stumbles upon this poor person, in their poor state, and the intermingling of these lives – seemingly accidental at the onset – becomes the catalyst for healing and renewal. This character, through their sacrificial and patient love, often causes the main character to discover something new, to change perspectives, and ultimately to become a new person themselves.
And then, at the climax of the film, the couple is either reconciled or joins together for the first time – often in marriage. As the movie comes to a close and the camera pans out, we are given shots of the perfect snow falling gently in front of the large bay window of the now shared home. Inside we see warm lights, faces aglow, often seated around a table, sharing stories, laughter, and warm touch. In a word, we see contentment embodied fully. We see love, joy, peace, and hope on display.
And we find that this image often moves us.
Lewis and Sehnsucht
We are moved because this image – a pure world, aglow with warm light, of united and reconciled family members, freed from all burdens, sharing a meal with much rejoicing – is the deepest longing of our hearts. It is the thing for which ALL of creation is growing (as Romans 8 tells us). It is the hole in our hearts that Thomas Aquinas spoke of. It is the Sehnsucht that Lewis wrote about:
“From at least the age of six, romantic longing – Sehnsucht – had played an unusually central part in my experience. Such longing is in itself the very reverse of wishful thinking: it is more like thoughtful wishing.”
Every Hallmark movie is watered-down anticipation of the Wedding Supper of the Lamb when the fully gathered body of Christ is present fully to one another, and our Groom before our Father because of the work of the Spirit lovingly leading us home.
We long for the day to know and be known fully, without shame or fear, anger or anxiety, stress or exhaustion. That longing is so profound and so deep that even when we find it in these made-for-TV Holiday films. We are simultaneously made aware of our desire and the disconnect we feel in our own lives between that desire and our lived experience. And so we long and we weep. And then, we watch another one.
For Feasting with Friends
Dear Christian, be encouraged by this. We know that one day we will ALL sit together, reconciled and redeemed, free of sin, and enjoy one another and God fully and without flaw or fear. A day is soon coming when the only reality we know is the faithful presence of God and one another. Where we break the bread and drink the wine of heaven in the warm glow of our Father’s presence. That day is coming. This is what we are celebrating during this advent season.
We celebrate that we really have encountered a man, Jesus of Nazareth, who really has changed the tide of our lives. He really has opened our eyes to the Love of God and the brokenness of our own lives and the sins that create them. He really has made us a new creation and a time is quickly coming when we will be united with him forever, dwelling with him together, in the warm glow of the presence of God.
If, like me, you find yourself to be a bit of a grump about these kinds of films don’t let yourself become so callous to this longing that you lose it. Seek to cultivate this desire as you pray, read the scriptures, and live with your friends and family.
“But the joy of fellowship, and the welcome
and comfort of friends new and old,
and the celebration of these blessings of
food and drink and conversation and laughter
are the true evidences of things eternal,
and are the first fruits of that great glad joy
that is to come and that will be unending.”
-Feasting with Friends by Douglas McKelvey
And if like my sister, you sometimes find yourself a little too fixated on these samples of New Creation, remind yourself that the New Kingdom is coming and these glimpses you love are but a foretaste of the glory that awaits us.
Husband. Father. Beloved Son of God.
Lover of Beauty and writer of words.