FARGO — Good morning (or evening!), and happy holidays!!

The time between Halloween and the new year is perhaps the most wonderfully beautiful, family-filled, food-festive time of the year and I (clap) am (clap) here for it.

From passing out treats to costume-clad lasses and lads and shoveling more sweet potatoes in your mouth than you know what to do with, to picking out the perfect gift for that special someone and roasting your chestnuts on an open fire (which sounds nasty, I don't even like chestnuts), there is no shortage of holiday cheer through the Hallow-Thanks-mas season.

In my opinion, the greatest thing about Christmas is always the same. You generally have the same relatives come visit, you eat the same foods (meatballs, mashed potatoes, gravy, spare ribs and potato sausage for the Vatnsdal clan), you attend the same church service (if you're a churchgoer) and you carry on the same traditions.

That also goes for the aggressive surplus of wonderfully cheesy made-for-TV movies to entertain us while simultaneously making us all cringe.

These movies start near the end of October and run clear through the holiday season. They're a magical wonderland of big city executives, Christmas tree farms and long-lost loves finding their way back to each other. Over Thanksgiving, boyfriend John's beautiful mother gathered the family 'round to enjoy a couple of these classics — my favorite of which starred a former teenage witch who falls for her former college boyfriend just in time for a Christmas celebration at her family's ski resort — and since then, every evening around 8 p.m., Chooflin and I settle into bed to watch another wonderful installment of these Christmastime beauties.

Except that they're all the same. I love them, but there are a few cliches that I have noticed that I think everyone needs to be aware of. That's why this week's Friday 5 will highlight five tropes of made-for-TV Christmas movies.

That one actor

I am not a huge movie and TV actor person. I usually have to sit and wonder until my fabulous best friend Samantha tells me how I know people — a skill that literally always blows me away. I'm serious, Samantha and her memory are amazing.

But when it comes to these Christmas movies, you're pretty much guaranteed to see the same people in at least two or three films. Lacey Chabert, Candace Cameron-Bure and Melissa Joan Hart are three that come to mind the second you say "Christmas movie." Mario Lopez, too.

However, two of these Christmastime actresses have been in more movies than most. Cameron-Bure and Chabert are tied for starring in the most Hallmark movies, with eight each under their festive belts.

However, a lot of these actresses and actors look the same. It can be hard to tell the difference between a Megan Park and a Fiona Gubelmann.

Silly town names

Who wouldn't want to live in Hollyvale, N.D.? iStock / Special to The Forum
Who wouldn't want to live in Hollyvale, N.D.? iStock / Special to The Forum

Listen, we all wish we could grow up in towns like Tinsel, Vt., or Hollyvale, N.D. (a fictional setting in actual holiday movie "Every Christmas Has a Story"). Sadly, that's just not the case for us.

There's no town that only does Christmas, at least that I know of. Anoka, Minn., comes close, but their thing is Halloween, and we are way past that season.

I'd like to sit these writers down and tell them to cool it with the eggnog before they start naming things. Then again, I've also wanted to live in a town called Tinsel.

Winter montage

No movie is complete without at least two of the characters finding themselves in a winter montage.

Whether it's a snowball fight, sledding, skating or building a snowman, there's no shortage of cutesy, snowy scenes that just happen to offer the perfect setting for our holiday heroes to realize they're in love.

It's disgustingly adorable, and you'll find one in every single movie.

Helpless relative

Because why else would you leave your wealthy, glamorous lifestyle in New York City, unless it was to go home to help save the family business after a sibling or parent or grandparent falls on hard times?

The high-powered executive jets home to Tinsel to revive the dying bakery/Christmas tree farm/bookstore just in time to have the perfect Christmas.

But what's this? An old love is actually working for the bakery/Christmas tree farm/bookstore? What a perfect opportunity to....


There's always a love story. It's textbook Christmas movie. iStock / Special to The Forum
There's always a love story. It's textbook Christmas movie. iStock / Special to The Forum

... stumble into the old boyfriend/girlfriend who they SWORE they'd never go back to.

It's textbook Christmas TV movie. There's always a love story. Do you know it's going to happen? Yup. Does it shock you every time? Probably not. Do you watch all of them anyways? You betchya.

It's the classic feel-good time of the year. I love it.

Friday 5 is a weekly column featuring quick tips, tricks, ideas and more — all in bunches of five. Readers can reach Forum reporter Emma Vatnsdal at 701-241-5517.