“Daddy?” came the voice in the darkness.
“Yeah…” came my reply, unsure of which of my kittens was speaking that most beautiful of words. In fact I believe I verbalized my doubt. “Which one of you is asking?”
Until this moment I had been somewhat peacefully slumbering in the warmth of my bed, the frozen rain of an uncharacteristic winter storm softly pelting the metal roof over the adjacent room on this phenomenally gray North Texas Sunday morning. [Holy cow, did I just write that?] My wife confirmed that it was my son who had climbed into the bed moments earlier. “What’s up, son?” I asked, my eyes struggling to open. “Um, do you want to talk to your sister?” he replied.
I need to explain at this point that my sister, Maureen, and her daughter just arrived for a week-long Thanksgiving visit. I, it seems, was the only member of the family who had not regained consciousness after the nightly snooze. Here’s the thing, though. In that state of half-sleep/half-wake I didn’t yet grasp which sister he was referring to. I have eight of them (sisters). Recently he has been very interested in asking questions about my twin sister who died when we were children. For a split-second I thought this is the sister he was asking about. I almost blurted out “Are we holding a seance this morning, son?” Fortunately my wife, laughing, said “He’s talking about Maureen.” I got out of bed and headed to breakfast. Over coffee I began to recount to my sister and my niece exactly why my Saturday night sleep was not as restful as I would have liked.
It all started late last evening as my wife, my niece, and I were scanning channels looking for something to watch. It was just about 11PM when the wife settled on a Christmas movie on Lifetime. The movie was called Kristin’s Christmas Past. Personally, I would have preferred a repeat of another classic Holiday in Handcuffs but, whatever… Although I had missed the first few minutes of this movie, thanks to my niece’s help, I quickly figured that the title character had somehow gone back in time to Christmas Eve 1996 and was interacting with her younger self and her entire family, trying to change the past. The story is timeless even if the specific plot and acting are not.
The problem is that, as we approached the 1AM hour (it was a two hour movie), I began to doze off. My wife had long since fallen asleep. Our niece was still awake, heavily invested in this seasonal schlock. I woke up with a bit of a start just as the very final words of this flick were being uttered. “Campbell,” I said, “What did I miss?” She began patiently to explain the final, pivotal moments — how Kristin had suddenly found herself back in the present, nothing changed, and determined to reunite with her family to repair years of a fractured relationship. Boy was I tired because I didn’t really hear a word of what she was saying. “That’s nice,” I said. “I’ll just rewind it a few minutes.” Thank God for DVR’s.
I rewound about fifteen minutes and, sonofagun, went right back to sleep. Talk about life imitating art… I had just gone back in time to try capturing something I had previously missed. I woke up again. I looked around. Campbell was gone. My wife was still asleep on the couch next to me. Gee our family room was just so perfectly cozy. I figured I had rested enough. Now was the time to rewind once again and just get this ending out of the way so I can move on with my life. And yes, that is exactly how I viewed this instant of time. You don’t even know… When it comes to Lifetime Movies, my years growing up with 8 sisters and then spent teaching in an all-girls high school have had their impact. Even the bad Lifetime movies deserve some consideration from yours truly.
I was alert. I was invested. I was watching this crap and wondering how Kristin ended up at a dinner table with a completely different set of characters. “Hmm,” I thought. “Perhaps in her time-traveling she made a few stopovers at different points in her life.” The scene ended. The next scene faded in. The title at the bottom of the screen read: Christmas: 18 years old”. Not that unusual. Kristin had just bounced back to her 17th Christmas. Perhaps she had some unfinished business. I continued to watch as Kristin grew closer to Matthew (her unrequited boyfriend from her high school days). I continued as Matthew, until now a straight-laced young man, returned from college with somewhat of a drinking problem. “That’s really odd…” I nudged my wife. “Honey, why is Matthew chugging a bottle of scotch?” “Huh,” she said, “what?” She drifted back to sleep. I continued as Kristin and Matthew kissed under the mistletoe. How sweet. Why does Matthew look so different? I continued as Kristin revealed through some clever expository writing that they were not actually in California anymore. When did they move? This was getting too strange.
Finally at 1:45 AM I put two and two together and realized that by the time I had rewound Kristin’s Christmas Past the second time I had already reached the end of that movie and my DVR only took me back to the beginning of the next movie — a flick called Love at the Christmas Table. The odd thing is that the sets, photography, actors, and plot were all eerily similar to each other. I think the final straw came when I realized that Kristin had never been played by Danica McKeller. I felt used. Thanks Lifetime.
Feeling incredible dumb, I stood up and went to bed. I really have no other way to end this story. Perhaps someday I’ll get to see both movies in their entirety. Perhaps…