by Julia Pocze, Alumni Scholarship Recipient and LLM student in the Department of Legal Studies
Some may know that I’m a casual cinephile. And anyone who has ever talked to me about cinema knows that I dislike Christmas movies.
Generally, they tend to annoy me with their tired tropes and abundance of clichés, so I try to set my quota to a maximum of two per year, which usually end up being the annual re-runs of Home Alone and The Holiday. It’s safe to say I’m not one to indulge in a Hallmark-binge once Advent rolls around, though I categorically deny being the Grinch who steals Christmas. In fact, I generally collect my yuletide cheer from a stroll through the Christmas Market with a punch in a novelty mug that’s shaped like a snow boot.
This year, I was particularly looking forward to visiting some of Vienna’s famous markets, now that I’m finally a local. Though it was obvious that larger crowds would be a no-go this time, I still hoped the mask mandate and 2-G rules would allow me to get a new ornament for our already over-crowded tree and maybe buy some Vanillekipferl to go with my punch. And then, lockdown happened.
While I support these safety measures, I missed being physically present in the classroom and catch up with my classmates face-to-face instead of through the grainy frames of Zoom. Not really going anywhere took a toll on my mental health and I began to feel really isolated. Since I longed for some warmth and holiday escapism, I found myself browsing through the Christmas collection on Netflix.
The three films I ended up watching were welcome distractions from the sadness of reality. Admittedly, they weren’t too deep and not even remotely original, but they were heartwarming enough to make up for Christmas cheer lost in lockdown.
Will this be the year I stop hating on Christmas movies? Well, the jury’s still out. But I would like to think that isolation allowed me to better understand why so many people enjoy them.