Heart of the Holidays

I was not optimistic about this one. I was sure it was going to just be a dud. Or just a filler. The preview made it seem like just your cookie cutter Hallmark movie. And spoiler alert: IT IS. Let’s dive in, shall we?

Our lead, Sam, is on her blue tooth earpiece trying to slay deals while changing her clothes. She works while she works out. She works, works, works. She is starting a new job tomorrow and taking all her clients with her. Is that legal? I’m not sure it is. She passes out on her yoga mat after she exercises. Then, her boyfriend shows up. She forgot about their date because she was just slinging deals 24/7. This poor guy. Guess what, HE’S A BUSY BUSINESSMAN TOO. He places a ring box on the counter and she kind of panics. But his phone keeps buzzing. He’s like, trying to propose and then takes a work call. WHAT. Okay I’m not rooting for him anymore. And NOW, he’s leaving for an urgent work meeting. But she should open the ring box first. Nope, not a ring. It’s a necklace from Germany. So there we go. Yikes, okay their date is postponed until tomorrow.

The next day, Sam heads to her new job. Her mom calls and asks if she’s coming home for Christmas. She is TOO BUSY FOR CHRISTMAS. This is a HUGE OPPORTUNITY TO CLIMB THE LADDER, MOM. She gets distracted by a homeless man across the street. No matter, it’s busy business person time.

She walks in and sees a bunch of people leaving with like, their personal effects. A BUNCH OF PEOPLE. She knocks on the CEO’s door. He’s busy hanging himself. Oh, wait no, her boyfriend Will is there. You know that deal Alec was working on? It was an acquisition. He had no idea until after he left her house last night. And they IMMEDIATELY made cuts. Like, fired a bunch of people with no notice. Also Will is her new boss now. But Will is like, who cares what anyone thinks. We can still date and no one will think you kept your brand new job because of me. She is super bummed. She says she needs time to think AWAY from Will. It’s JUST BUSINESS SAM!

At home, she stares at the necklace still in it’s box. Dude, I’ll take it if you don’t want it. I don’t care that it’s from Will. She decides to head home for Christmas. We get to see another beautiful scenic drive. Is that the same shot from the last 19 movies?

SURPRISE, MOM! She is so happy. Of course. Sam is not honest with her mom about her job circumstances. Sam immediately gets roped into baking cookies the following day. But FIRST, it’s tree time. They need Santa hats and hot chocolate for this excursion.

It’s dark by the time they actually head out to get their tree. A young guy, Noah, brings an older guy a sandwich at the tree lot. But he can’t eat it because his wife is making brisket for their anniversary. How sweet.

Sam and her mom head to the tree lot in their Santa hats. The mom asks Sam about Will. He is welcome to join them! He’s too busy. Sam says things are complicated with Will. Then Sam’s mom reveals they are heading to “Noah’s Café” for a tree. Sam is kind of panicked. Her mom is like, you should probably talk to Noah sometime. It’s been 8 years for heaven’s sake.

At the Tree Lot, Sam suddenly doesn’t want to wear her hat. GIRL SAME. Bob has no chill and calls Noah right over to say hi. He just stands there kind of frozen for a moment. Sam is like totally melting down inside. He says “Welcome Back” to her. It is SO UNBEARABLY awkward I want to die. But Noah does remember that Sam hates cranberries, so that’s nice. The olds leave Noah and Sam to catch up. Everyone is so uncomfortable. He tells her to enjoy her hot chocolate and she says YOU TOO. BUT HE DOESN’T HAVE ANY. OH Sam, but you just got here. I’m so sorry you have to leave and change your name and start a new life now.

The next morning, Sam’s mom is waiting at the bottom of the stairs with hot chocolate. That’s NOT creepy. Sam says she was going to wait until after she goes running. Her mom is like, no you’re not doing that. Let’s decorate the tree instead. Her mom still has ornaments from 1995. Well duh. My mom still has some from (cough)… earlier than that. Her mom is like, boy that was unbearably awkward last night right? But she’s optimistic they can get over that. It sounds like Sam’s dad died. Her mom says he was always so busy…Sam reflects on that and then learns NO LESSONS because she says she has to respond to some emails. Isn’t she out of work though? What emails?

At the Cafe, Bob’s wife, Val, is PLAYING WINGMAN HARD for Noah. Any available woman in town. Marina, the bookstore owner, asks Noah on a coffee date. Oh, poor Marina. She would be perfectly lovely for him at any other time. He asks if he can let her know! OUCH. Oh my heart hurts for Marina.

At home, Sam reads her emails out loud as she types them. Sam’s mom comes in with a fabulous Christmas sweater and tells her they’re already late for the Bake A Thon…at NOAH’S CAFE. Will he be too busy for coffee with Sam? The theme for this baking event is ugly Christmas sweater. Sam’s mom has her covered. Will calls. Sam ignores it. And then she kind of runs into Noah. Noah literally tossed a bag of flour at her to carry into the cafe.

Sam runs into a very pregnant Tessa. Tessa is not finding out what this third baby is. Two boys so far.

Val puts her foot in her mouth as they reminisce when they all last saw Sam. Then she meets Marina. Noah offers to take her coat. Wait why doesn’t Noah or Marina have an ugly sweater on? Sam is very self conscious about her sweater. Noah isn’t wearing a sweater because he is not going to stay and help them bake I guess. Sam definitely feels out of place.

Outside, Noah chats with Tessa’s husband. Their boys are animals. I get it. He talks to Noah about Sam. She looks like such a New Yorker! She is outside making phone calls trying to get a new job. It doesn’t seem to be panning out. Tessa finds her and asks if she loves New York. Sam says she does sometimes. But she does miss home too. But she’d never consider moving back. She doesn’t think she fits here anymore. Also New York has the best “take out.” Like, what? ALL of it? Like all the food that is available to take out? Tessa says she’s always been content to live in their hometown. But does your hometown have “TAKE OUT”, Tessa?

Back inside, they are already decorating the cookies. Sam continues to not help. But also, like no one would want me decorating cookies either. Tessa asks her to just do the base layer. TESSA! EVEN THAT is hard, okay? Can’t we just be okay with them tasting good? Marina makes a PERFECT one. Sam wonders if she and Noah are…no they’re just friends. Tessa just eats all the cookies and helps Sam salvage her big mess up.

Noah walks in to see Sam at the sink. Boy I am SO UNCOMFORTABLE. Noah tries to break the ice. They reminisce about her difficulties with boxed mac and cheese. She says, Noah we have to talk about “it.” But he says no and tries to bolt. He found out she moved to New York from VAL. But she had to move?! She knew if she told him face to face she wouldn’t be able to go. So that’s still not great. He says it’s water under the bridge but it is so CLEARLY NOT. Marina comes in and ruins everything by forgetting her scarf.

At home, Noah looks through an old recipe book. He has an ornament on his tree that says N&S so maybe it’s not all water under the bridge.

Sam checks her email. No new messages. No one wants to hire her apparently. She is wearing a CUTE sweater though so that’s something. Her mom is working on a wreath. Something is bothering Miss Sammie Sam. She’s just thinking about…everything she says. ALOT of MEMORIES MOM. No luck so far patching things up with Noah. He doesn’t really care says Sam. Sam’s mom says she should offer to help him deliver the baked goods. Her mom will be home rolling Phyllo dough…but she pronounces it “FEEL-O.” Is that right? I say “FILE-O.” Embarrassing.


Sam heads to the café. She runs into Val, Bob and Noah carrying a GIANT gingerbread house. Sam steps in and gets right in Noah’s face trying to save it from dropping. She tries to give him a wreath as a peace offering. Then, she offers to help him do deliveries but he doesn’t want her to help. She doesn’t give up. She admits that she doesn’t have a job right now. It’s a long story. He relents and lets her help him. As they load up the truck, she gives Noah the story of what happened with her new job. Noah says it sounds like she did the right thing. But no one is returning her calls or emails so did she, really?

Noah tells her that people were hit hard in their hometown. The “plant” closed down and a lot businesses went under so a lot of people in town need the food bank. They head to the food bank and there is a FOR RENT sign in the window next door.

Noah offers to fix the the fridge at the food bank venue. SHOULD BE EASY. The woman from the food bank, Carol Ann? tells Sam that Noah’s Café almost went under and now he’s become a cornerstone of the community. Then she thinks that the two cookies Sam decorated melted. GREAT.

Noah and Sam look around and find a circuit breaker. The fridge is on it’s own circuit…and there are only two others. Noah can’t get the fridge circuit to reset. Sam tells Noah she started out in New York at a nonprofit but it went under and had to find a job so she ended up taking a job in finance. So did she just move there with no plan? Did she really like get a job all lined up and then not tell her long term boyfriend? Just straight up ghosted him? And we really expect him to like…. RECOVER? No.

Then Sam comes up with a great idea for the food bank to give people a good Christmas experience when they are getting things they need. At home, Sam gets to work. She just has a second wind of energy. Sam’s mom comes up with a great name for the event… hey, wait. That’s the name of the movie. Everyone is excited to help out. Bob is going to be Santa and donate trees. Tessa and her husband are in, even though Tessa is two days overdue. Tessa is in a group chat with moms from FOUR COUNTIES? HARD PASS. The notifications must never end? Can’t that be a Facebook group? Anyway, Tessa is in charge of the toy drive.

Sam wears another great sweater. Marina shows up at the café with a bunch of books! Marina offers to help more. Oh, sweet Marina. Can’t we find her a guy? Why can’t she be annoying and aggressive? Noah asks to get something to eat with Sam. They walk through a door to his house since he lives right on the other side of the café. Sam asks him if he’s dated anyone and she wonders if he wants to date Marina. He deflects. Then she notices the ornament on his tree that says N&S. She hasn’t ever seen it because HE NEVER HAD A CHANCE TO GIVE IT TO HER. But he kept it and put it on his tree every year so that’s not weird. HE LIED ABOUT BEING WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE. Sam feels a little happy about this information.

Will annoyingly clicks his pen in his office and wears suspenders. He googles how long it would take to drive to Sam’s town. Meanwhile, Sam and Co are decorating the event space. Tessa is an AMAZING painter. An anonymous donor donated A BUNCH of food. Was it Sam? I honestly am not sure. And now we have an unpacking and decorating montage. Then Bob shows up dressed as Santa.

The woman from…City Hall, Carol Ann? gives the attendees instructions for the event. Sam takes in all the activity. I think she is quite pleased with herself. She and Noah smile at each other. The woman from City Hall tells her she needs someone like Sam working at the food bank full time. OH, DOES SHE?! Then Sam and Noah have a moment. But WILL shows up. How did he know? Will is like STRAIGHT SASS. Dude she said he wanted space. He had to come talk to Sam about the whole “work fiasco.” Will has a job opportunity for her. It would be the PERFECT FIT for her. But there’s an interview TOMORROW. Wait, isn’t that Christmas Eve though? No one is EVER interviewing people for new jobs on Christmas Eve! Sam talks to Noah briefly. He tells her he wants her to stay but he says she has to see what the job is about first. I mean, she should at least take the meeting, right?

At home, Sam’s mom stares at the photos on their mantle. Then Sam comes downstairs with her bags packed. She says she’s so sorry about all of this. Now Sam is really leaving her mom alone on Christmas Eve. She does have to go see what the job is all about and obviously the interview has to be on Christmas Eve. Her mom says her dad was a busy business boy but it came at a cost. No one is learning any lessons.

At Noah’s house, he looks longingly at that ornament.

Back in NYC, Sam waits for her interview. In the interview, she says this would kind of be her dream job. She gives a little speech. Later, she sits at her house and Will arrives. He got them dinner reservations. But she says the person she was before is not the real her. She wants to go home. She gives him the necklace back. And everyone spend Christmas Eve alone I guess.

The next morning, Christmas Day, Val and Bob arrive to Sam’s house. Val just chatters away. OH!! Marina and Jeremy were chatting at the bus stop! Okay good. And then Sam shows up! She is moving home. Her mom is like, oh…here? Are you going to look for your own place though? Soon? Sam never wants to miss another Christmas either. But we can just play all of this living at my house by ear, okay Sam? Then Tessa calls Val to tell her she had a girl. Okay that’s great but now she’s going to have to have another girl. Because you can’t have just ONE!! Alright so now Sam has to go get Noah back. Val and Sam’s mom cheer and Bob is like, go get who back?

Sam literally sprints all the way to the food bank. She runs into Carol Ann and they kind of work out that she will work there. Where the double H is Noah! Oh he is dropping off all the wreaths and a gift at her parents’ house. How is it night already? And then Sam shows up! She tells him it’s not going to work out in New York. I think she is asking him to move in with her? She talks about her memories or something and blah blah blah they KISS. All the olds open the door at that moment and then think better of it. THEY LOVE EACH OTHER. And that’s it.

So yeah this is your standard fare Hallmark movie. It was fine. Everyone was likeable I guess. But it really is your stereotypical Hallmark movie. So if that is what you came here for well, then this is for you. Let’s check it against the checklist though! Alright so 8/20! Pretty high score!

  1. Small town person who loves the small town and hates the big city
  2. Workaholic too busy for Christmas
  3. Christmas festival
  4. Christmas baking
  5. Christmas puns
  6. Someone working in a corporate job and FORGETTING their dream, right?
  7. A sassy and wise best friend
  8. A Christmas montage

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