Watching Hallmark Movies with My Dad by Jenny Holiday

Jenny Holiday Op-Ed
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[Note from Frolic: Today, we welcome author Jenny Holiday to the site. She’s sharing the inspiration behind her latest book. Take it away, Jenny!]

I think it is safe to say that my dad is my biggest fan. He has been known to:

  • Buy multiple copies of my books and give them out in his town.
  • Make little packages of my reviews and hand them out in his town. (I’m not kidding. Last time I was there around the time of a book release, he had printed reviews from various sites and a collating station set up where he was assembling and stapling them.)
  • Get the library in his town to order my backlist.
  • Drive around and visit Walmarts and Barnes and Noble locations and “rearrange” things if he feels there could be a more “optimal” placement for my books.

My dad was always great at being interested in whatever my sister and I were into as we grew up. Gymnastics? Check. Madonna? Check.  But imagine my surprise when I discovered, years ago, that my dad was, completely independent of me, watching Hallmark and Lifetime Christmas movies. 

He loves them. I love them, too, but the sad part is I don’t really get to watch them that much. I live in Canada, where we don’t have the channels in question, and I don’t have cable or satellite TV anyway. And my dad doesn’t do the streaming services, so he’s missing the whole Netflix oeuvre. The only time we get to watch them together is when I visit him in the U.S. around the holidays.

But honestly, the play-by-plays he texts me are as good, if  not better, than the movies themselves. Texting with my dad about his Christmas viewing has evolved into one of my favorite Christmas traditions.

“Winnie Cooper” (Danica McKellar) is a favorite of both of ours as my family never missed The Wonder Years when I was a kid. We’ll even watch movies we don’t love if Winnie is in them. Here’s my dad, who, despite his overall enthusiasm for the genre, has developed a critical eye, on one of those:

One of his favorites from last year was Picture a Perfect Christmas.

(The paragraph about zippered lips is not related to the movie, but I left it in there because it is vintage Dad H advice.)

The funny thing is that when we do get to watch movies together, I am often the one who can’t stomach it. I clearly remember one year when I was visiting after Christmas. It was almost New Year’s. We started a movie, and a few minutes in, I said, “I can’t watch this one. It’s too cheesy.” He said, “Oh, that’s just because enough time has elapsed since Christmas that you’re starting to lose the Christmas spirit.” Touché, Dad.

In 2017, we were watching one—I can’t even remember which—and my dad started fretting over how it was going to turn out. I was like, “Well, I guarantee they’re going to end up together.” Then I took a stab at figuring out how the HEA would unfold in that particular movie. I was, of course, correct. (This is a skill one develops as a romance novelist and not at all a knock on the genre. Romance is genre fiction that is often based on tropes and is therefore “predictable,” but I will fight anyone who means this as a slur.)

That night, in my parents’ guest room, I started thinking, Hmm…I wonder if I could write something in the vein of these movies, except in book format. And with more snark. And steam. (I can’t help it; I am who I am.) And lo, A Princess for Christmas was born. My only regret is that because of the pandemic, I won’t get to visit my dad for Christmas, and he won’t get to make the rounds “rearranging” bookstores. But I anxiously await the texts.

About the Author:

Jenny Holiday is a USA Today-bestselling and RITA-nominated author of romance novels. The New York Times once had this to say about one of her characters: “His feminist bona fides can seem piled on for a hypermasculine hero.” She took it as a compliment. She lives in London, Ontario.

A Princess for Christmas by Jenny Holiday, out October 13!

Leo Ricci’s already handling all he can, between taking care of his little sister Gabby, driving a cab, and being the super of his apartment building in the Bronx. But when Gabby spots a “princess” in a gown outside of the UN trying to hail a cab, she begs her brother to stop and help. Before he knows it, he’s got a real-life damsel in distress in the backseat of his car. 

Princess Marie of Eldovia shouldn’t be hailing a cab, or even be out and about. But after her mother’s death, her father has plunged into a devastating depression and the fate of her small Alpine country has fallen on Marie’s shoulders. She’s taken aback by the gruff but devastatingly handsome driver who shows her more kindness than she’s seen in a long time. 

When Marie asks Leo to be her driver for the rest of her trip, he agrees, thinking he’ll squire a rich miss around for a while and make more money than he has in months. He doesn’t expect to like and start longing for the unpredictable Marie. And when he and Gabby end up in Eldovia for Christmas, he discovers the princess who is all wrong for him is also the woman who is his perfect match.

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