The anti-everything-America crowd has attacked Hallmark Christmas movies as being too white, too traditional, too heterosexual, and not enough gay, black and, yes, Islamic. As Slate.com put it in 2017, “…they all depict a fantasy world in which America has been Made Great Again.” Salon.com agreed: “This is a cultural representation issue and one made especially disheartening when you take into account the way these movies sell a nostalgia for a false, if durable, vision of an America that never existed.” Slate and Salon are leftist publications that criticize everything they perceive as traditional American values. But they are clearly wrong that the Hallmark-depicted America never existed. I grew up in it.
Wayland, Ohio is a small, rural burg even today. While Griff’s old post office/general store no longer exists, and the town hall and church built in the early 1800s were sold by the township trustees in the late 1970s, Wayland still recalls the strength and ideals of America and the American way of life. Wayland is connected to Paris, Palmyra, Deerfield, Charlestown, and Edinburgh—each about five miles from the other. The people that lived in these communities when I was growing up were diverse—Italian, Welsh, Hungarian, German, Black, White, Catholic, Protestant, very poor, middle class, upper middle class. They were farmers, factory workers, storekeepers, volunteer firemen, construction workers.
I remember one Christmas, the Umbaughs across the road from our church lost everything in a fire. They were not members of the church and they were largely first generation “foreigners” to the area. But everyone made sure they had food, clothing, housing, fuel and fellowship until they got back on their feet. Leonard Bell’s father died. They lived next to Paris school. Everyone chipped in and made sure their needs were met. If someone’s car stopped alongside the road, a neighbor would make sure they got what they needed to fix it and get back on the road. When it was harvest time, my Dad and our neighbors helped one another get the crops in. We took freshly baked cookies and pies to one another for no good reason except to be kind and neighborly.
There was a connection between all the families in the area. And you know something, these traditions continue today. They are instilled in each of us. My wife’s family lived only about 10 miles from mine. We knew each other from young ages. The American tradition depicted by Hallmark lives in them every day of the week, every month of the year, not just on Christmas. It reaches beyond differences in religious beliefs, politics, ethnic backgrounds, race, or all the “isms” the anti-America crowd likes to throw in our faces. We aren’t perfect, but we are kind and civil. We follow a simple rule as spoken by Christ in Luke 6:31, “ And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them likewise.” The America of Hallmark does exist in the hearts of those who love God, country and family.