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Lacking Christmas cheer? Hallmark has your back

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Uh-oh. Look at the calendar. It's already Nov. 7. How are those Christmas decorations coming?

Have you put up your giant inflatable snowmen? Surely you have that Star Shower light show already bedazzling the front of your house.

No? It's high time you began to get in the Christmas spirit. There are just under seven weeks left until the big day and that's barely enough time.

Those of you who still believe the Christmas season doesn't begin until the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday) are really out of touch. These days, "Christmas creep," when Christmas-themed stuff materializes in the seasonal corners of the big box stores, takes place before Halloween.

The stores may hold off on playing the incessant loop of "Holly Jolly Christmas" for a while, but the artificial flocked trees are already over in the garden section.

Meanwhile, if you're feeling down, just drop on over to Hallmark Channel or Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel (HMM) for a dose of Christmas cheer. The season is already well underway.

The sister Hallmark channels began their annual 24/7 "Countdown to Christmas" on Oct. 27. And don't expect there will only be reruns of past favorites. A record 33 brand spanking new Christmas movies are scheduled for the channels this season -- 21 for Hallmark, and 12 on HMM.

Hallmark will have five straight nights of new movie premieres at 7 p.m. Nov. 22-26. They are, in order, With Love, Christmas; The Mistletoe Inn; Finding Santa; The Christmas Train; and Switched for Christmas.

At the end of all that, you'll either be well into the Christmas spirit, or in a cloying, saccharine overdose.

The next original Hallmark movie is The Sweetest Christmas, which debuts at 7 p.m. Saturday. The film stars Lacey Chabert, who we all loved as little sister Claudia on Party of Five (1994-2000) and later as Gretchen ("That's so fetch") in Mean Girls (2004), and Lea Coco (Queen Sugar).

The 35-year-old Chabert is a Hallmark holiday movie regular, with six of them now on her resume. In The Sweetest Christmas, she plays struggling pastry chef Kylie Watson who makes it to the finals of the American Gingerbread House Competition.

It looks as if it's her big break until her oven breaks down. Desperate, she reaches out to her old boyfriend from culinary school, Nick (Coco). He gave up his own sweet pastry dreams to take over his family's pizzeria.

Nick allows Kylie to use his pizza oven at night and, this being Hallmark, their romance is rekindled. Then stuff happens. Things get complicated and it looks as if Kylie will lose both the contest and her old/new love.

Golly. Will it work out? Will the Christmas spirit save the day? You'll just have to watch to find out. Warning: Bring hankies.

If you want to get started on the festive movies tonight, Hallmark has a couple on tap that are representative of the countdown.

Christmas Land, 7 p.m. An attractive young woman (Nikki DeLoach) inherits a Christmas tree farm and plans to sell it. But wait! The town is charming and there's a charming and handsome single lawyer (Luke MacFarlane) charmingly hanging around. Will the Christmas spirit work its magic on the couple?

Just in Time for Christmas, 9 p.m. A fetching young psychology professor (Eloise Mumford) must decide between staying put and marrying her longtime boyfriend (Michael Stahl-David) or moving far, far away to take her dream job. What to do?

Will the Christmas spirit prevail after she's magically transported to the future to see how both decisions turn out?

Bonus: William Shatner plays Coachman Nick and Christopher Lloyd portrays Grandpa Bob.

That's just tonight's offerings. The spirit goes on and on until Christmas with such titles on HMM as Mistletoe Over Manhattan (Nov. 14); and Hearts of Christmas (Nov. 21).

Hallmark's offerings include The Nine Lives of Christmas (Nov. 19), A Bride for Christmas (Nov. 23); and The Mistletoe Promise (Nov. 25).

Spoiler alert: The true spirit of Christmas prevails in each and every one of the above movies and in all the others on Hallmark and HMM.

Check out the entire "Countdown to Christmas" schedule for both channels at hallmarkchannel.com.

One more thing. I almost forgot. Freeform (the former ABC Family Channel) begins its annual "Countdown to 25 Days of Christmas" on Nov. 18.

Freeform's first original Christmas movie, Angry Angel, will premiere at 8 p.m. Nov. 27. Brenda Song plays an angel trying to figure out how to get into heaven.

Will the true spirit of Christmas prevail?

Check out the lineup at freeform.go.com.

The TV Column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Email: mstorey@arkansasonline.com

Style on 11/07/2017

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