Category Archives: Women and midlife

A Lifetime Christmas

My husband went away for the weekend at the onset of the Christmas crunch. I planned to put on my cape and become Super Me: Christmas Edition and kick things into high gear. But before I got started, I sat down to watch a Christmas movie on the Lifetime Network (“Television for Women”). The next thing I knew it was Monday. In two hour segments, I was lulled into a series of oddly similar Christmas fantasies. It was like being on an eggnog drip.

Lifetime really knows women. For the first 11 months of the year, Lifetime movies are basically revenge fantasies. From what I’ve seen, they are all a variation on this theme: woman meets man in coffee shop, they fall in love and get married, he seems to be hiding something. Oh, he’s a serial killer! The police don’t believe her, so she needs to take matters into her own hands. She traps or kills him using nothing but her wits. You can see why during the month of December, this particular storyline is too stressful for most women.

So, during the month of December, Lifetime completely shifts gears. They brighten the lighting, crank up the carols and create 1,000 variations on the exact same Christmas movie. A high-powered lady executive has to deliver a package to a country town and gets snowed in. She is instantly at odds with the handsome innkeeper, but somehow they fall in love and discover the true meaning of Christmas. Shoot this script again with the two pilots whose flights are cancelled. She loves social media, he doesn’t have a smart phone. Can they ever make it work? Yes, they fall in love and discover the true meaning of Christmas.

The fact that these movies grabbed me so completely tells me somebody over at Lifetime is doing some research on what women crave in December. They’ve created a Christmas reality where the sun always shines on a light dusting of snow. People joyfully hunt for the perfect gift in perfectly tailored red and green coats. Cashmere hats top every head, but indoors no one has hat head. Families gather every night of advent to perfect the tree. And there are 36 hours in every day.

Everyone in this reality has a full time job about which they are truly passionate. Yet we never have to see them work. Mothers who are corporate lawyers are also available during the day to organize the elementary holiday show (and fall in love with the single dad who’s designing sets and discover the true meaning of Christmas). They’re available to meet to stroll through holiday boutiques or sample fruitcake for an upcoming party.

And the guy. The guy who the heroine will inevitably kiss at the end of the second hour is just the right amount younger and more attractive than she. It’s not enough of a difference to make her nervous, but it’s enough to make the viewer think that there’s a reality where this might happen. He has between 0 and 1 children and a steady income. Whether he’s a stock broker or works at the coffee shop, he has a huge kitchen with marble countertops. There are no other countertops on the Lifetime Network in December.

Perhaps the most subtle fantasy they’re selling is this: in every movie the heroine has an annoying quirk that ends up being just what saves the day and makes the handsome guy fall in love with her. The woman who makes color-coded lists of her lists – the one a normal man might find a little rigid – that woman appeals to the disorganized sculptor who can never find his chisel. Same goes for the bossy woman, the forgetful woman and the woman who just can’t bring herself to trust again. If I lived on the Lifetime Network, my messy kitchen would make my husband wild with desire.

In January we can get back to nurturing our desire to right all the wrongs in the world using only our cunning and determination. The ex-wife with the rap sheet isn’t going to convict herself. But in December, why not just let the spirit of Christmas do all the work.  

My Memory Keepers

I met my high school girlfriends in Palm Springs for a weekend to celebrate our 50th birthdays. It has been 32 years since we all lived in the same place. By the same place, I mean Los Angeles, but I also mean in each other’s exact space. We moved freely in and out of each… Continue Reading

Mark Zuckerberg Wants to Fix Me

Mark Zuckerberg Wants to Fix Me

Artificial intelligence is a thing. I don’t understand it, and I’m not really interested in understanding it, but I’m told that Instagram scans my posts and the posts of my friends, multiplies them by the square root of something and then decides what ads to show me.  In fact, the advertisements on my Instagram feed… Continue Reading

New Years Day Has Been Moved

It’s been three weeks since I flubbed my New Year’s resolution. I’m not proud of this fact, but here we are. Just like last year. I think the main problem with New Years resolutions is that they happen on January 1. There is no worse day in the year to try to turn things around.… Continue Reading

I’m Turning Into My Grandmothers

I love those Progressive Auto Insurance commercials where they joke about how we’re all going to turn into our parents. Precocious as I am, I’m starting to think I’ve skipped a generation. I’m turning into my grandmothers. I had two grandmothers who were totally different from each other. Dora, my maternal grandmother, was a bit… Continue Reading

The Upside of Scarcity

Many years ago, my son received a Thomas the Tank Engine train and a circle of tracks as a gift. He was two years old and could zoom Thomas around that track for hours, frontwards, backwards, crashing into imaginary obstacles. He loved it so much that I bought Thomas a buddy, his faithful passenger coach… Continue Reading

How I Became A British Aristocrat

I was laid up for the month of December. I was recovering from surgery, and I’d gladly tell you all about it but after watching a solid month of Downton Abbey, I’m starting to think maybe I shouldn’t talk about such things in mixed company. I mean Lady Mary had some kind of women’s surgery… Continue Reading

The Ins and Outs of the Thank You

One time someone did something really nice for me. I was full of gratitude so, naturally, I wanted to thank her. I could have immediately sent a text. I could have taken the extra 10 seconds and sent an email. I could have opened a drawer, pulled out a piece of stationary and written a… Continue Reading

My Dishwasher and Me

Sometimes the deepest friendships take a while to solidify. They don’t seem obvious at first. Maybe you have different interests, different backgrounds. Maybe one of you is a human being and the other is a dishwasher. Whatever the barriers are, they can often fall away once you spend a lot of time with someone. My… Continue Reading

Growing Up in a Marriage

When I was a newly engaged 25 year old registering for wedding gifts, I chose two sets of champagne glasses – fancy crystal ones and the cheaper, boxed ones for everyday. Yes, you read that right. In my mind, we’d definitely need everyday champagne glasses, like for Mondays. Marriage isn’t exactly what I thought it… Continue Reading

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