Hallmark movies have become as much a part of the holidays as Christmas trees and Thanksgiving dinner. They’re a part of our culture now. Here’s why. Hallmark movies are saccharine sweet and all about feel-good vibes.

The funny thing about these movies is that they’re extremely formulaic. You meet the attractive protagonists, you learn of some minor conflict that needs to be overcome. Together they solve the problem, fall in love and everyone ends up happy.

I wrote a column last year about possible Hallmark movies that could be set in Rome. It seemed to be pretty popular and readers asked me to create some more. So since the holiday season is upon us, here are this year’s Hallmark Movies set in Rome. Screenplays by Severo Avila.

A Hayride to Happiness — Two Berry College professors are guides on historic hayride tours through the campus. She’s a by-the-book rule follower who wants visitors to get a complete educational experience. He’s a fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants music teacher who uses humor and sarcasm to show visitors a great time. The two clash over their opposing views and it all comes to a head on the final ride of the night when they’re stuck on a hayride lost somewhere on the mountain campus. Can they work together to get their visitors safely back to the Cage Center? Or are they too different to see that love is right under their noses?

An af-FAIR to remember — A recently divorced Horseleg housewife just wants to cut loose and have some fun. She lets her friends talk her into a night at the Coosa Valley Fair. There she runs into a man who shows her the best the fair has to offer by ordering the tastiest food, taking her on rides and winning her prizes at all the games. But he seems to know more about the fair than your average ticketholder. That’s because he’s a CARNIE. He runs the funnel cake stand but doesn’t tell her that because he’s afraid her Horseleg sensibilities might be turned off by his profession. It’s a magical night for both, capped off by a kiss at the livestock show. But it’s time to leave. Will she be happy to share her life with her blue-collar beau or will his funnel cakes be the reason she goes back to Horseleg ... alone?

Meet me at the Mill — Two single Pepperell grads find themselves invited to five different events at the Lindale Mill this holiday season. From weddings to engagement parties and even a vow renewal, they somehow have the same circle of friends but have never actually hung out together. As they keep being sat at the same table and bumping into each other on the dance floor, they strike up a friendship that sees each as the other’s unofficial “plus one” at all these romantic events. Will they realize they’re meant for each other and perhaps have their own special day at the mill? Or will their stubbornness find them each eating alone at the Dragon Drive-In?

Turkey is on the table — When a big Atlanta company wants to buy out a struggling turkey farm in Armuchee, they send a high powered attorney to seal the deal two weeks before Thanksgiving. She plans to stay in Rome till the deal is done. On her first night she goes to a bar and meets a well mannered bearded country boy who she’s smitten with. But little does she know he’s the owner of the turkey farm and it breaks his heart that he has to sell the farm his family has owned for generations. As their relationship blossoms, she learns who he is and is torn between completing the buyout and helping the man she loves save his family’s legacy. But will he forgive her when he finds out the real reason she’s in town? It all comes out at Thanksgiving dinner.

Friday Night Lights — The Model football team is in the middle of their season and they’re gearing up for a big rivalry game on Friday. But on the day of the game, the head coach gets sick. A young assistant coach has to step in. He’s unsure of himself and doesn’t think he can coach the team to a win against their biggest rival. As the game begins, the team is struggling and the assistant coach blames himself. They’re down big at the half when he runs into an old high school flame at the concession stand. She reminds him of all the things she loved about him. He’s completely inspired by their conversation and as the second half of the game begins, his confidence is soaring and the team’s back in it. But the clock is winding down and they’re still behind by a few points. He calls for one last risky play that’s just crazy enough to work. Is it too late or will he lead his team to victory with the woman who has always believed in him watching from the stands?

A chicken salad Christmas — Rival restaurants Chicken Salad Chick and Duffy’s Deli are vying for the community’s affections when it comes to who makes the best chicken salad. Even their employees are pitted against each other. Jesse is a Chicken Salad Chick manager who’s too busy for a relationship while Joey works at Duffy’s and has always said he’s never settling down. But a massive community Christmas party calls for all the chicken salad that both restaurants can provide and Jesse and Joey are forced to work together to feed the thousands of partygoers. As the event progresses, the two learn that both their restaurants offer something special to the public. And as they realize they enjoy working together, their defenses are shredded just like the chicken they’re preparing. Is this a recipe for love? Or a delicious disaster?

Somebody call Hallmark and get me a meeting.

Severo Avila is Features Editor for the Rome News-Tribune.


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