My favorite Christmas song is Christmas Wrappings by The Waitresses, which for those who may not know, is essentially a Nora Ephron-level romantic comedy packaged into one perfect four minute song. I listen to this song on repeat from the day after Thanksgiving to Christmas every year. This year, however, I had a thought. What if, instead of listening to fictional accounts of holiday romance, I pretended I was in a holiday rom-com for a day myself, just to see what happy ending awaited me?
Now in order to do this experiment, I had to condense the magic of a holiday movie into a single Christmas-packed day, partly because I am only comfortable pretending I’m the star of a movie for about 24 hours before I am overwhelmed by the chaos of my real unscripted life, but mostly because I am a procrastinator and ran out of time to spend a full week as Katherine Heigl.
My knowledge of Christmas rom-coms was lacking, so I prepped by re-watching Love Actually, a movie I love. (Sorry not sorry, haters.) And then because, again, I put this off, I watched only the trailers for Christmas Eve, Serendipity, and just to be safe, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Then I did what all writers do before they write about something — I did a Google search. Unsurprisingly, the results for “list of holiday rom-com tropes” was lacking, but I think I put together a pretty solid list of themes to hit before the credits could roll on this day.
Let’s get this movie started:
1. Be Bitter About The Holidays (At First)
Plenty of characters start off being resistant to holiday cheer. See: The Grinch, the singer of Christmas Wrappings, me. But I had to get on with the day. “Ugh Christmas,” I thought.
My slight hangover coupled with the fact that I had no cash for a bacon, egg, and cheese bagel at the deli made completing this trope easier than I expected. Now since this rom-com is taking place within the real parameters of my life, I figured I wouldn't be looking for a new love interest. I already have a boyfriend, but that doesn’t mean this story couldn't be romantic! I rolled out of bed, and noticed the L train wasn’t running the whole weekend, and became even grumpier because I had to go out for gifts anyway. Trope achieved.
2. Suffer Through The Total Agony Of Finding The Right Gift
I headed out to the Union Square holiday market in New York City in hopes of finding a gift for my boyfriend. He has plans to take me to the taping of SNL’s Christmas show, so the stakes were high. The holiday fair was incredibly crowded. I don’t know why I was surprised. I panicked before shelling out $40 on beef jerky for him. Insane, I know. Does he even like jerky? I was overwhelmed by the people and the holidays, and remember how I was still hungover? “UGH CHRISTMAS,” I thought to myself for the second time that day, this time in all caps.
3. Confess Your True Feelings “Because It’s Christmas”
Perhaps the most insane plot line in Love Actually is that these people are confessing their feelings with the justification that since it’s Christmas they can be honest/flirty/whatever else they want. It’s crazy, but I love it. I decided to confess my true feelings for a boy I see almost every day: an old corgi that takes a walk around my block very slowly each morning. It’s my favorite part of the day, but I never say more than a “hello, dog” under my breath. Today was the day I was going to tell this corgi that I love him, and wish he was my own.
But the corgi was nowhere to be found! Talk about a plot twist.
4. Inspire An Adult To Believe In Santa And/Or Prove To A Child Santa Is Real
I babysit on a semi-regular basis, and happened to be spending the afternoon with a six year old, which made this trope super easy to accomplish. My plan was to somehow bring Santa up, and then maybe make up a story about how great he is.
This plan didn’t work at all. The child I babysit is too smart for me. The moment I brought up Santa she expertly dismantled my story, arguing Santa’s improbability and the likelihood that it’s her parents who give her gifts. Then she left the room to color. This movie was not going as planned.
5. Run Through An Airport
I had to modify this trope to “run through the subway,” which I did. Many times. I like to think sprinting for trains is my cardio.
6. Experience A Celebration Gone Wrong
On this particular night, I had two tickets to the holiday train show at the New York Botanical Garden. It was going to be a magical Christmas night.
Unfortunately, my boyfriend and I failed to realize that the garden is an hour and a half ride consisting of three different modes of transportation away from his apartment. We quickly decided to eat the cost of the tickets, and just order Thai food instead. It was a wonderful decision. We watched Elf and went on a walk for hot chocolate and sung some Christmas carols on the way. Things were looking up. The initial celebration went wrong, and a better one came in its place. I could feel the Christmas spirit creeping in.
7. Discover The True Meaning Of Christmas
The night was coming to a close. I put on my warmest pajamas and crawled into bed, realizing my hangover had subsided sometime between proving Santa is real and running through an "airport." There was a loud laugh from a neighbor in the hallway, and I swear to you, it sounded like a chuckle from Santa. Which is insane, I know. But maybe, just maybe, it was really him?
Either way, I had a good day. I spent it with people I love, and that’s what matters, right?
Looking for more holiday cheer? Check out Bustle on YouTube.
Images: Giphy (7), Corinne Caputo