For the past two weeks on my morning runs, I’ve been listening to the podcast Christmas Wars: A Very Merry Rivalry on the battle for Christmas movie superiority waged by Hallmark, Lifetime, Hulu, and Netflix, which is a bit on the ironic side because I have absolutely no interest in this genre. 


No interest is actually underselling the contempt I have for these movies that seem to begin airing earlier and earlier every year. I think I even saw a promo for one while watching Hocus Pocus. I’ve never seen one all the way through and typically only tune in to hate-watch for as long as I can stand it. Still, I love fruitcake, which isn’t for everyone, so this podcast piqued my holiday interests. 


As for the podcast, the voice acting for re-enactments of meetings between studio executives is cheesier than our Tres Queso Mexican Macaroni and Cheese casserole—I mean they are millimeters short of sounding like over-the-top pirates in a straight-to-DVD Disney knock off—but I feel like I have a new level of fodder for all manner of holiday gatherings.


But here is a holiday twist (part of the formula of these movies), I have now, on purpose, watched one of these Christmas offerings from beginning to end.


However, before I lose my Grinch card, I did it for the gift of reading. I logged into Netflix and watched Let it Snow, based on the young adult collection of three holiday romances also called Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle.


And now for the bigger Christmas miracle—my little Grinch heart doubled in size because I actually enjoyed it. 


In the book, when Tobin hears from his doctor parents that they are snowed in at the Boston airport and may not be home for Christmas, he responds saying, “‘I’ll just go over to Duke’s,’…‘Her parents told me I could stay there. I’ll go over there and open all my presents and talk about how my parents neglect me, and then maybe Duke will give me some of her presents because she feels so bad about how my mom doesn’t love me.’ I glanced over at the Duke, who snickered at me.” (122)


This was part of the fun. Seeing how the characters in the story were interpreted on screen and seeing the changes from print to screen made me appreciate both interpretations. The screen version included all of the required elements I learned about in the podcast, but that was okay because I had the stories to celebrate the craft of writing that the gift of reading brings.


The three stories in the collection “The Jubilee Express” by Maureen Johnson, “A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle” by John Green, and “The Patron Saint of Pigs” by Lauren Myracle are sweet little holiday treats that just might get you to turn off the television for the gift of reading. 


Of course, once you’ve finished reading, be sure to log in to Netflix for the film version with a big ol’ slice of fruitcake. I recommend the Costco version. It’s fruity-nutty delicious. And if I can make the sacrifice of trying a holiday movie, you can give fruitcake a Christmas chance too.  


Download the lesson below on repetition in writing!



Michael Méndez Guevara is a former high school journalism and English teacher who spent his time in the classroom helping students see themselves as writers and fall in love with reading through the world of young adult literature. As an educational sales consultant with Perfection Learning®, Michael works with teachers and schools on improving their literacy instruction and providing resources to help students achieve academic success. He has taught elementary school, middle school, and high school and has worked as a district level leader and served on the Texas state standards revision committee that developed the state’s current literacy standards. He is the father of three adult sons, the youngest a student at the University of Kansas—Rock Chalk! Michael is working on a professional development book for literacy educators and currently has agents reading the manuscript of his young adult novel, The Closest Thing to a Normal Life. When he's not reading, writing, or running, Michael is fully committed to watching as much Law & Order as possible.