What the movies leave out: Christmas in the Midwest edition
Each year I have “must-watch” Christmas movies: Home Alone. Elf. Die Hard (oh yeah, I fall into that camp).
Next year, I’ll be adding “Spirited” because my husband and I loved it so much.
While they don’t make my list, I have many friends who fall in love each year with Hallmark’s holiday lineup. The storylines are romantic and light-hearted albeit quasi predictable:
The main character lives a fast-paced, corporate ladder-climbing lifestyle—probably in New York City. They must return home to their rural town to attend to a family matter.
During their trials and tribulations, they manage to fall in love with someone they used to date in high school or a foe-turned-love-interest. In the end, they trade the hustle and bustle of the city for life in the countryside with their new main squeeze. Roll credits.
But, if you haven’t experienced a small-town Midwestern Christmas, here’s some things the movies leave out:
- While winter weather seems romantic on screen, it’s usually anything but. This week in Iowa, the polar vortex is causing extreme temperature drops. So, instead of quaint parties as the snow falls softly outside, think of Iowa farmers bundling up in every piece of Carhartt clothing to take care of their livestock in below freezing temperatures. It doesn’t matter if it’s a holiday—a farmer puts the safety and wellbeing of their animals first.
- Speaking of parties, if you’re able to brave the elements, the holiday fare will include dishes grown or raised from Iowa’s family farms, such as ham, prime rib, deviled eggs and corn casserole. However, there will also be several of what Iowans call “salad.” None of them will include a leafy green, but you’ll get to see how creative Aunt May can get with a box of Jello, a tub of Cool Whip, some fruit and candy bars.
- While the protagonist in any Hallmark story is usually overcoming an obstacle, in real life, rural neighbors band together to support people with dire needs like food and shelter. Every church in town will hold a coat drive or an adopt-a-family program during the holidays. There will be free community meals and food donations from farmers to supply people with much-needed nutrient-dense foods like milk, meat and eggs. It truly is a time of giving.
I suppose what the Hallmark movies get right, though, is there is magic in rural America.
It’s in the people, in the glow of candlelight services in little churches and in the gathering of old friends—whenever they can get off the farm to make it.
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