Two weeks until the big day. If you haven't sent out your Christmas cards, bought most of the gifts on your list and watched at least one Christmas movie by the time you read this, you might want to get your butt in gear. For something that happens every year, at the same time on the calendar too, Christmas has a way of sneaking up on people. I've been shoulder deep in writing and revisions for the better part of autumn. Most of our winter preparations here on the farm have been two (sometimes even three) weeks behind but we finally got there. Our Christmas tree and other decorations are up and I even got a head start on my annual holiday baking. (Winner!)
With winter prep taken care of, and a head start on Christmas, I think it's safe to say we've entered the second phase of Christmas. The second phase is the phase that comes after writing out your naughty & nice list, casually hitting the craft shows and the mall, and non-noncommittally eyeing decorations in the store. It's the phase that comes before the packed grocery stores on Christmas Eve-Eve, office potlucks, last minute stocking stuffer purchases. The second phase is essentially the calm before the storm phase, the 'this is so lovely' phase. Twinkling lights. Gently falling snow. The odd Christmas song on the radio. In my opinion this is the phase where panic doesn't live and the Christmas Season is at it's PEAK. Forget Christmas Day. I mean sure, that's fun too, but my favourite time of the entire season is right now.
It's the best time sit down with the family to enjoy a Christmas movie or two. I bet you've seen a ton of blog posts/articles listing the top 10 Christmas movies of all time. There's that repetitive list spanning decades of legendary Christmas classics... White Christmas (meh), It's a Wonderful Life (a fave of mine, for sure), Home Alone (definitely fun) and Elf (candy, candy canes, candy corn & maple syrup). But I'm going to remind you (or perhaps introduce you) to one you may never have thought of as a Christmas movie. In fact, many people I know challenge my assertion that it even qualifies as a Christmas movie.
No, I'm not talking about Die Hard. I'm talking about WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING with Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman. If you haven't heard of it here's a link to the trailer:
I think the main mix up regarding WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING 's status as an official Christmas movie is based on it's marketing. I mean, look at the promo cover, no where is there any Christmas decoration or tree. It looks like any old, ho-hum romantic comedy but if you ask me, it's much more than that.
Since her father's death Lucy has spent her Christmases alone. It's such a sad state of affairs for someone so funny and bright. As a character, Lucy is such a treat (in fact, the child in my fifth book, Prayers for the Dying was named after this Lucy, not Lucy Maud Montgomery, another heroine of mine who preferred the name Maud). From the get go, we know Peter is not her type. Sure he's handsome, and suave but he's not for her. Jack, a down to earth guy next door, is way more Lucy's type and he proves it as the story progresses. We begin rooting for them early on.
But it's not just Jack we love, it's Peter and Jack's family, the Callahan's. Who doesn't wish they had a loving, dotting mother and a cheeky and welcoming grandmother? The family (and neighbour) are just the sweetest which only further emphasizes Peter's short comings because he's never appreciated them. The saddest part isn't that the Callahan's have accepted Lucy into their lives based on little more than a few words said under her breath, it's that they all deserve to be a family together. They deserve Lucy just as much as Lucy deserves them. But they are expecting her to marry Peter when she really should be marrying Jack.
The story of Lucy and Jack's relationship is the main thing, and Christmas appears to be just a backdrop. How exactly does that differ from other romantic comedies like THE HOLIDAY? These are movies about people at a pivotal point in their lives who are alone, people who don't deserve to be alone at a time in the year when no one should be alone. In WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING Christmas simply magnifies Lucy's loneliness. It makes us root for her success. We want her to find love, be happy and finally put a stamp in her passport, damn it!
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING, in my opinion, is the quintessential Christmas love story about loneliness, family and enduring hope. I watch it every year. I cry when Lucy finally confesses the mix up. I smile when it all turns out in the end. Honestly, it's the perfect Christmas movie (and I mean this because I didn't write it though I often wish I had). It should be played regularly on television within the standard rotation right up there alongside Elf, Home Alone and all the others. It should be part of the Holiday Movie displays in department stores. And it should be a regular part of your holiday tradition too.