I’m a fan.
Not the kind of fan that blows the county’s transformers with my illuminated Snoopy and Rudolph helping Yoda guide the Magi to the Nativity light show, but on the whole more than a little sentimental about the even the sappiest of holiday tropes.
Do I get a little weepy when Santa appears at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? Maybe. So, yes, eager to wallow in seasonal sentiment, and yet, even I am now bludgeoned into semi-snark by the reckless propagation of holiday movies pumped out by the Hallmark and Lifetime channels. Have I seen them all? Who could? Do I know the entirety of the tale before viewing the opening credits? Who doesn’t?
The cumulative effect of simply reading the titles brings the sticky nausea that follows downing the third honey marshmallow butterbrickle maple banana doughnut. With sprinkles.
Let’s trot out a truncated catalog of this year’s offerings from our friends at Lifetime: A Sugar and Spice Holiday, The Christmas Set Up, Christmas on the Menu, Merry Liddle (sic) Christmas Wedding, People Presents: Once Upon a Main Street, and perhaps in a nod to global pandemic, Too Close for Christmas.
Not to be outdone, Hallmark offers: Northpole:Open for Business, two similar sure-fire standards, Switched for Christmas and A Very Merry Mix Up, A Dog Named Christmas, A Shoe Addict’s Christmas (I might have to watch this one), A Bride for Christmas, A Cookie Cutter Christmas, and the very unsettling Marrying Father Christmas.
Bah Humbug and perhaps I slither and slink with a smile most unpleasant, but the naked truth is that I call myself a writer, but have not, cannot, arguably will not devise a plot line worth mentioning while the media elves on the Hallmark assembly line are churning ‘em out by the sleighful. Imitation is the sincerest form of plagiarism, however, so in candy coated desperation, I’ll turn to the best plot source I know, the plays of William Shakespeare.
Some jokes write themselves, just too easy, so no Much Ado About Stuffing, or Holiday Glazed Hamlet. A Birnum Woods Christmas? Is Macbeth, too grim? Really? What happened to “scary ghost stories and tales of the glories” at the most wonderful time of the year? You think a bloody Banquo is more disturbing that Morley in chains? Ok, maybe ripping the unborn from Lady Macduff asks a lot of the holiday viewer, but easily fixed by a quick cut to festive hi-jinx as Lady M does the Jingle Bell Rock instead of sleeping. Put an ugly sweater on Romeo and elf ears on Juliet, throw some mistletoe around, pull back on the poison and stabbing, and Ho Ho Ho, Italian Holiday. The clear winner, however, is the heartwarming reconciliation of father and daughter, Happy New Lear.
I’ve got the collected works on the desk open to Titus Andronicus, hoping I can schlep Titus into a more convivial relationship with Tamora, Queen of the Goths. Surely swirling togas and the magic of the season can turn a charnel house into a gingerbread chalet.
I am hesitant to begin, however, as faithful readers will recall that in the past, I have been challenged in writing in the mood of the Romance novel; the more faithful will recall that the effort was, well, not to every taste – describing as it did, the putative romance between Krimhelde and Etzel (Atilla). Abandon hope you who read here – it could look like this:
From the August 19, 2019 edition-
Was Attila’s Last Name “The Hun”, Or Was He Like The Only Hun, Or What?:
“Etzel, conqueror of empires, master of legions, scourge of the West, was on this cold evening merely a man, a man trapped in his own legend. He sat at the head of the great table, goblets of gold spraying sheets of wine as the raucous company slammed the heavy table again and again. Most used the butt end of their knives, some the flat end of their war hammers. The room thundered with the songs of victory. The Huns drank deep, hardly pausing to shove great strips of meat into their gullets, singing with tuneless gusto nonetheless. Etzel’s chest and forearms were speckled with blood. Although the heat of battle had left him, he continued to clench his fists, recalling moments in which he had taken the lives of men he had never known.
He saw the men in his command, men who had travelled the width of the world with him, roar stupidly and stumble drunkenly; in that moment he felt a solitary distance from them and from their revels. Hollow victories had grown routine; there was nothing in the world left to conquer. A tall sharply featured woman sat with the Burgundians, a woman who seemed carved of ice, whose gaze held the room in flat contempt. In an unguarded moment, Etzel let his face fall revealing the depth of his isolation, and in that instant, Kriemhild saw him as no other had and loved him as no other would.
Burgundian lords and ladies watched in disgust as Etzel’s warriors wiped greasy mutton across their chest, happily spitting chunks of flesh into the air as they caroused. Gunther and Brunhild sat stony faced as the revelry grew more and more frantic. Glancing at his sister, Kriemhild, Gunther mouthed, “Look at the pigs” while pretending to smile in appreciation of the Huns’ antics. Kriemhild missed Gunther’s disapproving pantomime, however, as she locked eyes with Etzel, her lips parting in a breathless gasp of desire.
In an instant, the there was no sound, no blur of drinken victors toasting each other. For Etzel, there was only Kriemhild, the petal soft folds of her womanhood singing to him across the room as the hard pulse of his arousal drove every other thought from his mind. Without a word, he stood, swept aside the stumbling Huns who attended him, and strode to Kriemhild, now standing tremulously at the far end of the hall. With each step the raging heat of his ardor grew with such intensity that the skin across his face grew taut.
“Etzel”, she croaked and rose to enfold him in her embrace. “Kriemhild, my sweet kugel, a dish I first encountered as I completed the ravaging of a shtetl in Belarus, like mac and cheese baked in maple syrup, the kugel, I mean, not the village.” “Etzel!” Her nostril flared with unhinged desire. “Kriemhild!” Sweat rose along the low hairline a few millimeters above the dense thatched palisade which made up Etzel’s eyebrow. “
Modesty demands putting some distance between the ourselves and the randy couple. I could linger, examining each tortured groan, each exhalation of ecstasy, but as the characters are both fictional and somewhat hastily drawn, let us leave them to whatever disportment the moment allowed and once again bring perspective to the exercise.”