What Hallmark Christmas movies taught me about being a millennial during the Great Resignation

For years, I’ve groaned at the ending to every made-for-TV Christmas movie. You know the type – a disgruntled employee gets snowed in at a remote location over the holidays, and when the time comes back for them to return home, they resign from a high-powered job to spend more time with their loved ones.

As much as I am obsessed with holiday movies (seriously, where’s the Spotify Wrapped equivalent for Hallmark Channel??), the ending to nearly all of them seemed unrealistic. That is, until this year. In the midst of the “Great Resignation,” the idea of prioritizing the people around you, personal hobbies, and a less stressful lifestyle suddenly resonates. These Christmas movies now seem to epitomize the millennial lifestyle as so many of us reevaluate how we want work to fit into our lives.

Spoilers ahead for Hallmark’s 2018 highlight, Christmas at the Palace, in which Katie leaves behind the ice skating rink that she just bought to move across the Atlantic to marry a King! And for Christmas at Dollywood, where both people in the relationship make major life changes (!): Rachel moves with her daughter from New York to Tennessee, while Luke turns down a job he was heavily recruited for in Georgia to stay with Rachel in Tennessee.

Until 2021, it seemed unbelievable that a chance encounter or a change of scenery over the holidays would incite these dramatic life changes for every made-for-TV movie star. Now, I get it. The past two years of pandemic life have given me and so many others of my generation a new perspective on life and work. Work-life balance is gone and work-life integration has taken its place. The Great Resignation has left employees in the power position to find jobs that accommodate their lifestyle and provide benefits such as time off, healthcare, flexibility in work hours and location, and increased pay.

I was one of the ~30% of millennials who left (or considered leaving) their job in the past year. I’ve always focused a lot of energy on my professional ambitions, and it was only in early 2021 that I took a holistic look at how my job was impacting how I showed up in my personal life. My new role provides lifestyle stability as it comes with no pressure to return to an office, being a field-based position. It comes with higher pay than my last position and plenty of opportunity to learn and grow professionally. The beauty of the current job market is that other millennials in the same position can also move to new jobs that accommodate their personal preferences as companies figure out how to retain and recruit employees…

Bringing me back to Christmas movies. I now appreciate a periodic reevaluation of my life and whether my current trajectory truly aligns with my personal and professional goals – just like the main characters do in all of the movies that I found ridiculous (in a binge-worthy way) just a year ago. Hallmark (and Lifetime, because who can rely on just one channel for their Christmas movies?) are reminding me, this holiday season, that sometimes a dramatic change is actually the right move to get your life going in the direction that you want.

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Aliyah is a scientist, writer, and advocate for inclusion in STEM. She currently works in the Boston biotech scene. A fan of traveling, board games, college sports, and reality TV, you can engage more with Aliyah on Twitter @YourTurnAliyah.

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