I was about to tell him I didn’t know when I remembered. It’s December. And December means True Christmas time.
True Christmas is what True Movies (a channel devoted to “true-to-life movies”, if your life is very dramatic and exciting) rebrands itself as between the months of November to January.
Movies on True Christmas include such classics as Christmas Oranges — “Experience the journey of Rose, an orphan who teaches the meaning of hope to all those around her” (it had better involve oranges, or I’ll be claiming false advertising), A Boyfriend for Christmas — “Holly is not looking forward to Christmas as she has been single since her ex, Ted, broke her heart.
But perhaps Santa can bring two lonely people together? (Single women are gross most of the time, but at CHRISTMAS? Not on Santa’s watch, young lady) and Christmas Caper — “After her latest job goes awry, a thief heads to her home to Connecticut to lay low over the holiday. Can the festive spirit, and time babysitting her niece and nephew change her ways?” (Because nothing says Christmas like, you know, stealing.)
I first became aware of the channel a few years ago.
Every time the television was turned on, there would invariably be a) Christmas trees b) a department store Santa Claus looking uneasy about his life choices and c) an inordinate amount of blonde women in cream sweaters baking gingerbread cookies. (Don’t worry, alt-right fans, apparently only white and heterosexual folks get to celebrate Christmas in this alternative universe.)
Sometimes, I would come down for breakfast and the TV would still be on, freckled child actors over-enunciating every word as they cried “All I want for Christmas is world peace, Mommy”, like no actual human child said, ever. And then, finally, I caught her in the act.
“Mother,” I said when I went downstairs late at night to get a glass of water. “What is going on here?”
She jumped up from the couch guiltily, trying to find the remote like the reprobate she was.
Me: Are you crying? But you... you never cry at movies. You laughed at the end of The Notebook, like a sociopath.
Her (crying): I’m not crying. It’s just that Jimmy went skating and the ice was too thin and he — Oh, leave me alone!”
There you have it. My mother was addicted to the True Christmas channel and I was horrified. (I was in favour of kicking her out until my father reminded me that I was, in fact, living inhome.) But when Jeanne Sutton, former deputy editor of Stellar, set up Roast Chestnuts, a podcast that celebrates the made-for-TV Christmas romcom, and friends on Twitter started to share their own love for these movies, I began to wonder if I had missed something. Thus, in the name of research, I sat down to watch A Christmas Prince on Netflix. The plot is straightforward — an American reporter called Amber (yes, she’s blonde) goes undercover as a nanny in the royal household of Aldovia in order to investigate the playboy heir to the throne, Prince Richard. Spoiler alert — they fall in love. It is two blonde people within fifty yards of each other, who could blame them?
Amber does have a couple of friends, one of whom is a woman of colour and the other is a gay man, and the pair have approximately four and a half lines between them.
Diversity! There is the obligatory gasp when Amber first sees the ‘palace’ (a big house with some sort of extension tacked on to it — I’m going to take a wild guess and suggest there might have been budget concerns), Prince Richard and Amber ‘accidentally’ falling on top of one another during a snowball fight, and staring mistily into one another’s eyes rather than jumping up, as if scalded from the shame, and a sassy younger sister who likes Amber because, “you treat me like I’m a normal child”.
I think one of my favourite scenes is when Amber finds the Prince playing the piano (so sensitive!) and is blown away by his talent.
Girl, he was playing Good King Wenceslas. A ten-year-old child with two broken hands could manage that. Everything wraps up a close-mouthed kiss that lasts half of a second, because Wholesome Blonde People do not have sex.
That sort of behaviour is for the vampy ex, Sophia, who we know is trouble because she wears red lipstick and is —— a brunette.
There’s also a proposal, which is totally normal behaviour when you’ve known each other for 14 days, and for 13 of those the Prince thought you were a schoolteacher from Minnesota called Martha.
The ring is hideous, obviously, like Richard recovered the Heart of the Ocean from Titanic and welded it on to a platinum band, but Amber is thrilled that all of her blonde dreams have come true. A Prince! At Christmas! Sure, what else could you want? (I’d go with bodily autonomy and equal pay, but I’m only a humourless feminist so never mind me.)
Moral of the story — dye your hair blonde.
Jokes aside, the Roast Chestnuts podcast on the HeadStuff network is wonderful. Jeanne Sutton and Alan Maguire are two of my favourite people to follow on Twitter, and this show displays their trademark wit and empathy.
: After watching the Late Late Toy Show, today might be a good opportunity to remember that Christmas can be a difficult time for many children. If you can afford it, a donation to your preferred charity — Saint Vincent de Paul, Simon, Barnardos, Women’s Aid, etc — could make all the difference.