Chris Morris is an admitted Hallmark movie lover, particularly the holiday versions.
And since they have been airing pretty much non-stop since October, he also admits, “I may have watched one or two.”
Morris is among millions of people who eagerly await the airing of Hallmark's holiday offerings each year.
“It's just one of those things that gives you that warm, cozy feeling inside,” he says. “It hearkens back to the simpler times.”
Fans of Hallmark Christmas movies know that there are similar plot lines to most of the shows, and as Morris points out, there are props and scenes that almost always make an appearance. There's always an old, classic red truck or vehicle with a Christmas tree in the back. A ceremonial tree lighting, or someone going to a Santa village, which may or may not stay open, Morris says. And there's those seasonal outings such as ice skating or bundling up for a sleigh ride.
And then there are the caramel apples.
Morris, who lives in Columbia City, says his wife loves caramel apples and “she's always pointing them out” when they appear in the movies.
You can recreate many of those Hallmark moments right here. We've come up with some area things that will definitely make you feel like you're in a Hallmark holiday movie.
But guaranteeing that you'll get that pretty TV snow, well, you may have to be like Morris and just make the best of it without the white stuff – at least for a while.
Morris, a hydrologist who works at the National Weather Service in Northern Indiana, says he usually looks for those situations that are gray and gloomy outside. And whether there's snow on the ground or not, he says it's a good time “to stay at home with your fuzzy socks on, with a nice up of cocoa, watching a Hallmark movie.”
Christmas tree farm
Taking a trip to a local Christmas tree farm is a must in a holiday movie – even if you don't have an old red pickup truck.
At the St. Joe Christmas Tree Farm, 9801 St. Joe Road, you can venture into the field and cut your own.
But Judy Reifenberg, owner of the farm along with husband, Mike, says if that's not your thing, they also offer pre-cut trees. And even if couples do decide to bypass physically cutting the tree, Reifenberg says they should still take a walk through the farm.
“It's really beautiful when it snows,” she says.
The fields are by appointment only and those interested can go to stjoetreefarm.com or call 486-4336 to see if more appointments are being accepted.
And even if you don't have a significant other to venture out into the fields with, Reifenberg says there are many opportunities to meet people while you're there. That sounds like a perfect chance for a Hallmark meet-cute to happen.
Go ice skating
C'mon, it's the ultimate romantic opportunity. How many times have you watched a movie where someone who can't skate very well makes their way around the ice rink, only to end up falling into the arms of a potential love interest?
It happens, right? Well, at least you can give it a try at Headwaters Ice Skating Rink at Headwaters Park, 333 S. Clinton St.
The skating rink is open 3 to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, noon to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $6 for ages 14 and older and $4 for ages 13 and younger. Skate rental is $3.
Hot chocolate is available at the concession stand.
See the reindeer
What can be more magical during the holidays than reindeer?
At Jingles All the Way reindeer farm in Auburn, visitors can take a tour, see Santa and meet the reindeer which include Mr. Jingles, Holly, Precious, Sven, Annette, Aurora and George, who is the “sweetest deer on the property and loves to give kisses,” says owner Janet Roark.
And the fact that the reindeer tour is only $11 a person ($20 if you take the tour and meet Santa), it sounds like a great holiday date night. Appointments can be at www.jinglesallthewayreindeerfarm.com/
Create a gingerbread house
Hey, fellas: We have it on good authority that apparently if you want to meet women, you might want to take a gingerbread-making class.
Country Kitchen Sweet-Art, 4621 Speedway Drive, has several gingerbread making classes that are only offered around Christmas time. Owner Autumn Carpenter says girlfriends and mothers and daughters are usually the ones who come in for the classes, but there are also couples as well.
And let's be honest, how sweet is the thought of working on such an iconic holiday creation? Hallmark movie script writers would give it two thumbs up.
Carpenter says the store goes through more than 400 gingerbread houses. All of the equipment and ingredients are included. “Our entire counter is filled with candy,” Carpenter says. “They're fun. They're definitely a feel good” holiday activity.
You can sign up for classes at countrykitchensa.com.
Upcoming classes include: Gingerbread, Gumdrops, Candy Canes & More for all ages, through Dec. 21; the one-hour session is $20; also, Hansel & Gretel's Home Sweet Home for all ages through Dec. 17; the two-hour session is $35.
There are too many Hallmark movies that include a Santa or Christmas village than we have space to list, but we're sure you can see the potential for something special to happen at one if you go.
Blue Jacket's Fantasy of Lights has a Christmas Village at the end of its drive-thru light display at Franke Park. The village includes unique food and craft vendors, Christmas music and photo-taking opportunities.
The anchor of the village will be a 30-foot-by-120-foot “Santa Experience” tent. Inside the entrance will be a path to take patrons through a decorated North Pole experience followed by Santa's workshop. Santa will be present and available for pictures every night the market is open.
It's open tonight from 5:30 to 9 p.m. then Dec. 9 through 12 and Dec. 16 through 19 from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday and Sunday and 5:30 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
The Fort Wayne Ballet will have its Kris Kringle Village during weekend performances of “The Nutcracker,” 303 E. Main St.
The village will take its cue from traditional German Christmas markets and include food, entertainment and seasonal ornaments, gifts and fare. It's open noon to 5 p.m. today, 4 to 10 p.m. Dec. 10 and 11 and noon to 5 p.m. Dec. 12.