A Hallmark Christmas Movie Parody

Okay, I’ll admit it.

I kinda love Hallmark Christmas Movies, despite all the geezer life insurance commercials.

The movies tend to be quite predictable and often a little sappy. Okay, a lot sappy. There will be snow, Santa Claus always makes an appearance, and after an hour and fifty-two minutes….someone’s getting a kiss. 

Several friends are HCM addicts. The rowdy ones play what’s called the “Hallmark Drinking Game.” Every time someone ice skates, you take a swig. Every time it snows, you take a swig. Every time someone lights a Christmas tree, you take a swig. Every time a dog appears, a romantic sleigh ride happens, or a small town is saved….well, you get the idea. 

So, I’m thinking it would be fun to write a Hallmark Christmas style story. 

Now, a very quick tutorial. In literature, there are nineteen different plot templates. Hallmark uses two of them. These include:

Transformation. This plot features an inner change….some kind of growth, either mentally, morally, or of social values. 

Love. The classic Boy-meets-Girl plot.

So, armed with this knowledge, I thought I’d take a stab at a Hallmark Christmas story. But, then…shucks. The John Harris side of me thinks “wouldn’t it be more fun to write a Hallmark Christmas story parody?” So, here goes.

A Redneck, White, and Blue Christmas

Penelope Pendergrass gazes at the Nashville skyline from her 42nd floor apartment in the 505 Building. It is morning and she is wearing her Versace bathrobe and bedroom slippers from the Aladdin collection. She sips espresso and muses. Horizons without high rises and haze were not her horizons. 

Life is good on the 42nd floor. She likes looking down at all the little people. From that height, even the big people look like little people. It’s a win-win. 

Penelope is 33 and has clawed her way to a VP position with Amalgamated Rubbish, a Fortune 500 company that reaps huge profits by finding places to dump toxic industrial waste. Their motto is “Scum one, scum all.” 

She walks to the hallway mirror and thinks of her long blonde hair and her sleek, willowy figure. She only thinks of it, mind you, because that was her figure several years ago before she fell prey to her twinkie addiction. She’s now a little more rounded, but pleasingly so.

And yet, deep down, something is missing in Penelope’s life, and she knows it. Instead of being a wealthy mogul, she thinks of a simple life, living in a double-wide and making lots and lots of babies and gravy. She daydreams about a husband who owns a bowling alley or has a successful meth lab in a wood shack behind the trailer. She sighs, “a girl can dream, can’t she?”

It’s early December and Penelope is taking a long-needed vacation. She’s going to Aruba for three weeks at a health and rejuvenation spa, something to wash all that provincial nonsense out of her head. The name of the resort is “Chance Weight Loss.” They’re motto being, “We’ll take a chance if you will!” Three weeks of warm beach, hot yoga, and cold martinis will get her back in a proper self-indulgent mindset of greed and social indifference.

Then, the phone rings.

It is her boss, the president of Amalgamated Rubbish. The news isn’t good.

He has an assignment for her. Penelope tried to inject a few buts, only to no avail. 

Amalgamated has been secretly trying to buy an abandoned industrial site in the little town of Watervalley to use as a megadump. They are covertly in cahoots with the town Mayor, Walt Hickman who wants the increased tax revenue. He’d finally be able to get mahogany wall paneling for his office. For some reason, Walt considered mahogany paneling as the first step toward world domination. Any leftover money could be used to buy a Pac Man machine for the employee lounge. 

But word about Amalgamated is getting out. So, Walt has cooked up an idea to buy some positive PR. He wants Penelope to be the Grand Marshall of the Watervalley Christmas Parade. She would do the parade broadcast on WVLY, the local radio station. 

If asked about the megadump, Penelope would use words like repurpose and revitalize when talking about company intentions. She would quickly change the subject with inquiries like, “do your cows have names?” The parade was four days away.

Understandably, Penelope isn’t sure she can do this. She fears that after four days in the sticks with no Starbucks or Whole Foods that she’ll start to hallucinate and get shortness of breath.  

Nevertheless, she packs her bags, hits the road, and later that afternoon she checks in at the Society Hill Bed and Breakfast. There she is greeted at the front desk by Connie Thompson, the co-proprietor. From the start, Connie is suspicious. “

“Hi. I’m Penelope Pendergrass. I called about a room.”

Connie eyed her discerningly. “You’ve gained weight in the last few years, haven’t you?”

“Yes, I have a twinkie addiction.”

“They have a twelve-step program for that, you know.”

“Is my room ready for check in?”

“Who do you work for?”

“Do your cows have names?”

Connie shrugged. This was going nowhere. She gave Penelope the room key. “Up the stairs and to the right.”

“Do you have an elevator?”

“Yes. But you need to take the stairs. You could use the exercise.”

Penelope shrugged and departed, rolling her suitcase up each step with a loud, “clunk,” just because she could. 

Shortly after, Matthew House, the B&B owner walked in, returning from his afternoon macramé class.

“How was class?” Connie inquired dryly.

“Good, any check-ins?”

“That woman with the parade. I don’t know about her, though. There’s a stank about that girl. I’m not sure what yet. But mind you, I’m going to sniff it out. Luckily, Covid had not hampered Connie’s sense of smell.

“A stank, Connie?” Retorted Matthew. “Really? That’s the best you got?”

Connie stood her ground. “You know what I mean. I may have to conjure up the ghost of Christmas present to do a little spying on her.”

“What ghost is that?”

“The one’s that hides in the close circuit TV cams throughout the mansion.”

Meanwhile, Penelope is up in her room, fretting….not about Connie or the parade, but about what to wear. She wants to blend in. Unfortunately, Hermes Birkin Bags do not come in camo. As well, her Prada shoes along with her Gucci Viscose top and skirt didn’t exactly scream, “I’m local.”

The only viable clothing option was the Watervalley Farmers Co-op. There she could grab some new digs, some cowgirl boots, and some Kentucky 31 fescue. (It’s winter. They’re having a sale.)

She makes her way back through the lobby and out to her Land Rover Defender 130. She voice commands the GPS for directions to the co-op. In a thick British accent, the GPS responds back, somewhat confused.

“Are you certain you want to go there, madame?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Really? Huh? Did you buy a cow? What’s its name?”

“Just give me directions and shut up.”

In retaliation, the GPS AI program took her on the scenic route with a near ten-mile round about looping of the town and countryside. But along the way, something began to happen. Penelope began to be enchanted by the rolling fields, the quaint farmhouses, and the charm of so many used car lots. 

It had a lulling effect, inducing her to Google prices for used doublewides.

Just as quickly, she regained focus. “Snap out of it, silly.” She looked at her watch, perplexed. “Why is this taking so long?”

“Almost there, madam.”

“I could have gotten there faster in a wheelbarrow.”

She entered the co-op and made her way to the women’s clothing section. There, as fate would have it, she crossed paths with Lynyrd Lineberry from the loading dock. Their eyes met and the magic began to happen. Simultaneously, their hearts pounded, their eyes watered, their noses itched. In truth, someone had dropped a container of fungicide on the next aisle. But no matter. The moment was filled with fascination, promise, and a strange aroma.

“What’s that smell?” Penelope inquired.

“Probably me,” responded Lynyrd. “I ran out of the regular stuff and had to use the dog shampoo when I showered this morning.”

Penelope shrugged. “That’s a little weird, don’t you think?”

“Maybe. But I have to tell you. All day I’ve felt like such a good boy.”

Penelope sized up pretty quick that Lynyrd’s IQ probably didn’t reach room temperature. Still, he wasn’t bad looking if she squinted her eyes a little. Then, a clever idea came to her.

“Listen, I’m new to town. I’m going to be Grand Marshall of the Christmas Parade. Would you mind being my escort?”

“Sure. I guess. Not sure I know what escort means, though.”

“You probably don’t know the meaning of second grade math either. But don’t worry. You’ll do fine.”

“I’m guessing you don’t see well. Is that why you squint so much?”

“Do you have a truck? I’ll have to lead the parade before going to the Grand Marshall’s booth to do the commentary.”

“I do but normally my dog rides up front. You mind riding in the back?”

“Do you have a lawn chair?”


“We’re good.”

Lynyrd nodded in agreement. “Hey, one more thing.”

“What’s that?”

“You need any fescue?”

Lynyrd agreed to take the next couple of days off so he could show Penelope all the scenic sights of Watervalley, all three of them. They drove out Ice Cave Road and Gallivants Crossing, toured the Amish community, and took long walks around Watervalley Lake. Step by step, Penelope was falling in love. Not with Lynyrd or Watervalley, but with Estelle Pillow’s pastries down at the Sweet Life bakery. Twinkies were definitely in her rearview mirror.

By the time the day of the parade came, Penelope had had a change of heart. She didn’t want to charm the people of Watervalley. If they befriended and trusted her, then the megadump was a sure thing. She had to make them dislike her. She came up with a plan.

While doing her commentary about the Christmas parade, she would say every mean thing she could think of about Watervalley. This way, the town would turn against her. She could still keep her job, her apartment on the 42nd floor, and her Louis Vuitton Urban Satchel – decorated with recycled water bottles and chewing gum packets. (Yes, there really is such a thing.)

 The parade started at 10 AM on Saturday morning and every soul from Watervalley lined the downtown streets of the parade route. Lynyrd and his shiny candy apple red 52 Chevy pickup truck led with his dog Bruiser riding in the front and occasionally slinging a little slobber out the passenger window. The truck sputtered and choked the whole way. Penelope wasn’t sure it could win out against a strong head wind. She stood in the back, waved, and occasionally took a bite of Pastel de nata from the Sweet Life Bakery.

They arrived at the courthouse where the Grand Marshalls booth was set up to do the parade broadcast. Each float would come to the courthouse, circle it, and then disperse to enjoy the rest of the parade.

Lynyrd came and sat beside Penelope. Her commentary went something like this. 

“Dang this thing is moving slow. It’s like doing a play by play at a state funeral.”

You see that Stop sign down there at the Corner of West 7th and High Street? I bet from here I could hit that with a 22.”

“Who’s the idiot who put all those horses with nervous stomachs in front of the marching band?”

Ever notice how band uniforms make you look fat?”

Wouldn’t it be funny to put a sign in front of First Presbyterian that said, ‘Join us Sunday Morning. Cover charge: $10.00.’”

Did you notice the sign on the side of the Watervalley Pool and Spa’s float: ‘When sprinkling just won’t cut it! Acts 8:38.’”

Okay, quiz question: Did the Knights of Columbus originate from the Teutonic Knights, the Gin-tonic Knights, or the Three Dog Knights?”

Have you ever noticed how the Boy Scouts are kind of like the Code of Chivalry? You know…. where you have to do good deeds even if you don’t want too.”

Wouldn’t it be funny if the Regional Surgery Center’s had as their float motto, “We keep our patients in stitches?”

“How come that sign on the Pentecostal float says, ‘Have you found Jesus?’ Is he missing?”

“Wow. Look at all those blue hairs in the Society Book Club. I bet Moby Dick was a minnow when they were kids.”

“What’s this next float? Hmmm, Nubbin Laidlaw’s Butcher shop. Who names their child Nubbin? That kind of name would embarrass a dog.”

“Boy this parade is boring. I’ve seen more excitement at a church pick-up-the-duck game.”

“Oh, look. It’s the mayor’s float.” In that moment, Penelope had and epiphany. “Well, allow me to let everyone in on a little secret, everybody. Mayor Walt Hickman has been privately negotiating with Amalgamated Rubbish to use the old DuPont site as a megadump for toxic waste.”

With this the band music stopped, the crowd gasped, and Walt was experiencing a gastrointestinal emergency. 

Walt now stood up in his Cadillac convertible. “It’s not so terrible,” he explained. “It’ll take twenty years for anything bad to leach into the ground water. By then there’ll be a cure for cancer.”

In that moment, Connie Thompson emerged from the crowd. “Walt Hickman, you come out of that car right now or I’ll grab you by the ear.”

Walt complied and stood before Connie; his head hung in contrition. “I should have known you were up to something… this being the time of year you normally shed your skin.”

Walt nodded penitently. 

“Now, you go home and reflect on your choices. I’ll deal with you later.”

With that, the band struck up a lively Christmas carol and everybody started to sing. Having been running late, Chick McKissick showed up in his Santa suit.

Connie walked up to Penelope. “Young lady, I knew you were up to no good the minute you arrived.”

“I know. But I’ve changed. I tried to do the right thing. I hope you have forgiveness on your mind.”

“Ummm hmmm. That and homicide.”

 “Besides, I’ve kind of fallen in love.”

“With Watervalley.”

“Well, yeah. That too. Mostly with your sister’s cooking. And with Lynyrd.”

Connie went wide eyed. “Wow. Didn’t see that one coming. Oh well, I’ll leave you two love birds to it, then.” Connie walks away.

Lynyrd looks deep into Penelope’s eyes. “Did you really mean it? Have you fallen in love with me?”

“Yes. I have.”

“I think I love you, too. Of course, Bruiser will still have to ride up front.”

“We’ll work on that.”

“Do you think we should kiss?”

“It’s only been an hour and fifty minutes. We need to dialogue a little longer.”

“Okay, fire away.”

“Do you by chance own a doublewide.”

“Sure do. I’ve even got cable.”

“Do you have any other business interest besides working on the dock at the co-op; say, like part ownership in a bowling alley?”


“Hmmm. You know anything about cooking meth?”

No. But for you I can learn.”

She throws her arms around his neck, snow begins to fall, and in a moment of pure Christmas magic, they kiss.

The End.

(A Very Merry Christmas to you and yours!)