Friday, December 6, 2013

Tis the season for love, actually

We all have our holiday traditions: how we decorate, what foods we make and eat, special holiday outfits, places we go...and movies we watch. Oh, I LOVE holiday movies.

And my favorite? Love Actually.

Which is actually taking a bit of a beating by critics as it celebrates it's 10 year anniversary. So let me be defensive for a second. 

There is no question that Love Actually, just like every movie, has its flaws, especially as a holiday movie. It's not a "classic." It's barely even about Christmas at all, really. And while some have cried misogyny over the fact that three of the relationships focus on men and the women who work for them...that may be misogyny but it's not unrealistic. And yes, the women mention their weight and there's a lot of emphasis on physical appearance. To be fair, these things might be some of the most realistic things about Love Actually because this move is totally, delightfully, too fantastic to actually happen. And that's why I love it. Because life is ridiculous and unbelievable and fantastical if you let it be, and there will be mistakes and sadness and loss and still, love actually IS all around. 

Love Actually captures over and over those fantastical moments and the power of the Grand Romantic Gesture as the point of epiphany for the reality and surprise of love. Sometimes you realize that supporting your family is more important than pursuing a romantic relationship, sometimes you realize that the love of your life is your best friend. Sometimes it takes a big mistake to realize where your heart really is, and sometimes you need to learn a foreign language in a week and fly to France and ask someone who you've known a very short time to marry you. These are the beginnings, the epiphanies, the points of revelation and change. Do we see what happens after? No...just like every other fairy tale, we're left to imagine that people live happily ever after, even though we know it's usually not that simple or easy. But sometimes it is, isn't it?

Maybe your view of love is that relationships are hard work, or that the only true love is one that lasts forever, or that there's no such thing as love at first sight. I disagree. Some relationships are easier than others...it all depends on how, and with whom, you want to spend your energy. Some love is driven by attraction, some by friendship, some by shared life experiences.  Not all love looks the same and that's ok. But let me let you in on a secret: love isn't hard work. Anyone who tries to tell you that it is hasn't found the good stuff yet.

Life, however, IS hard work, and the best you can do is find someone to be by your side to weather the storms. If your relationship is hard work, then maybe you haven't found the right person to share the ride, or maybe that's part of the life work you're willing to do...either way, that's YOUR story. For the rest of us, don't try to convince us to try to stop believing in the fairy tale. We're going to bask in Love Actually: the hope and wonder and sadness and surprise of love in all of its small and grand romantic gestures and the value and beauty in our successes and stumbles in the search for true love. I'll always be on the side of that kind of love, actually ;)

And now to watch The Grinch Who Stole Christmas again, who reached HIS epiphany upon hearing the Grand Romantic Gesture of the Whos singing (without any packages, boxes, or bags). Sometimes it really IS that simple and easy.

ps. Full disclosure: When John and I got married this summer, he surprised me with a tribute to the wedding scene in Love Actually where musicians sing/play All You Need Is Love as the bride and groom's recessional. How's that for a Grand Romantic Gesture?

Yeah, I was surprised. This man. *swoon*

pps. Find out what character you are in Love Actually! C'mon, you know you want to...



  

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