HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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Once she gets home, however, she falls in love with both the place, the people and the charming business. She also falls in love with her old high school sweetheart who has never married or whose wife has conveniently dropped dead recently. The sweetheart has built a career as a professional puppy rescuer or some such do-gooder gig and is strikingly handsome, not to mention charming. There’s often a sweet, lovable animal involved, generally a Golden Retriever.


At this point, things get complicated because the jerky big-city boyfriend is employed by an evil corporation that, coincidentally, has been planning to acquire the Christmas tree farm/bed and breakfast/antique store/other charming business, fire whatever employees there may be and build a factory that produces weapons of mass destruction.


The big-city boyfriend, in his capacity as Executive Vice President of Dastardly Deeds, even comes to the picturesque village, contract in hand, and advises the heroine to sign on the dotted line, for which she will be paid a gazillion dollars. “Sign it. Don’t be a fool! We can fly back to The Big City and live happily ever after!” he says.


She promises to think it over. Here’s where the suspense comes in. Will she take the offer from the Evil Corporation and go back to her high-power executive job or chuck it all for a new life amid the snowy pines?


Duh! For goodness sake, it’s a feel-good Hallmark movie! Waddya think?


So the movie ends with the heroine standing in the lightly falling snow on Christmas Eve in the embrace of the puppy rescuer with the Golden Retriever beside them. He gets down on one knee (the guy, not the dog), proposes to her and she tears up the contract. We get a glimpse of the decidedly unhappy jerky, big-city boyfriend on a plane by himself, then we go back to the scene in the snow as boy and girl kiss and Christmas music comes up.


Unrealistic, you say? Schmaltzy, you say?


Sure, but at least for the season, I’ll take it, Hallmark. I can’t wait!

HALLMARK CHRISTMAS MOVIE FAN COMES OUT OF THE CLOSET

Our heroine gets the news that her:


has passed away and she has inherited:


Her hometown is a picturesque village filled with smiling, good-hearted people who bustle through snow-clogged streets lined with more holiday decorations than the North Pole.


The heroine has to leave the big city to settle the estate, so off she goes back to the picturesque hometown with every intention of selling the charming business and returning to the city and her jerky urban boyfriend.

FRANK KOURT

Frank Kourt is a staff writer for Living Well 60+ Magazine

more articles by Frank Kourt

Okay, I confess. I’m one of those Hallmark Channel Christmas movie addicts who is looking forward to the time the new holiday flicks are released.


I admit these are sappy, maudlin efforts at best, but they put me in the holiday spirit and make me smile. There. I’ve said it.


I must say I felt better when I learned I am not alone in this guilty pleasure. Hallmark holiday movies are driving the Hallmark Channel’s ratings to new highs. The consensus is they make us feel good while real life is going to Hades in the proverbial hand basket.


These movies are not Oscar contenders by any means. In fact, they pretty much stick to a basic formula that goes something like this:


The first scene opens on an attractive young woman working in an office in:


It is Christmas time and we get to see all the big-city decorations and plenty of snow … unless it’s set in L.A.