By Shirley Mays

I have a confession to make about one of my guilty pleasures – I love Hallmark movies! Ordinarily, I am an extremely logical, reasonable, slightly obsessive and well-organized individual. But put me in front of a Hallmark movie and I lose myself in the Hallmark movie story. That story that invariably involves two people who don’t like each other when they first meet. These two people always are somehow forced to be together and unvaryingly begin to fall in love. After the inevitable misunderstanding that causes them to momentarily break up, I dissolve into tears at the totally predictable happy ending where the two people longingly look into each other’s eyes and engage in a lingering kiss. All of this usually takes place in a small town.

Why do I love Hallmark movies? I believe it is because they remind me on some level of growing up in my small town of Wilberforce, Ohio. Wilberforce is an unincorporated township in the Midwest with a resident population of about 500. Everyone knew everyone else in Wilberforce. I still remember the time my sister’s dog, Lady, was hit by a car. Unfortunately, Lady didn’t survive her accident. My sister was about 7 or 8 years old, and the neighbors (both young and old) lined up at our doorway to express their condolences to her on the loss of her pet.

I also remember the time when my parents told me not to ride my bike to a neighboring town called Yellow Springs while they were out for the day. My friends received permission from their parents to go and I didn’t want to be left out. So I joined my friends on the bike ride, carefully arriving home at least two hours before my parents returned from their visit. I was ecstatic because I was sure I had gotten away with it! I lounged in my room secure in the knowledge that my parents never would know that I disobeyed their wishes.

When Mom and Dad arrived home, they burst into my bedroom. I saw the anger on their faces and didn’t understand what was happening. I couldn’t believe they knew I had ridden my bike to Yellow Springs. I later found out that as they drove down our street, every neighbor from the beginning of the street to our house had stopped them to tell them they saw me riding toward Yellow Springs with my friends. Even today I smile as I recall how baffled I was that every adult on our street knew my business!

Although the town where I grew up wasn’t quite as idyllic as those I see in the Hallmark movies, I still can appreciate the homey feeling I get when the Hallmark movie characters come together as townspeople, get into each other’s business, and love one another.

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