#85 – Entertaining Christmas

entertaining1It’s Boxing Day, Peoples! And I have a whole day of pajamas and DVR movies, when not commandeered by both boys. I’ve already had an aborted start with the UP Channel’s royal entry, Christmas with a Prince but I stopped watching it because the main guy in it had Peter Gallagher eyebrows, and I just can’t do that look this early. So, Sorry, Christmas with a Prince. I’m sure you were … interesting. (Based on some kind Harlequin book – and now I’m wondering if I’ve read that or not…but I digress). Now I’m re-establishing myself with Entertaining Christmas – starring Brendan Fehr from Roswell (the OG, not the reboot that is coming to the CW very soon (swoon) and Jodie Sweetin from Full House).

Yay, Snow covered NYC opening shot. Jodie Sweetin following along with the TV to make a gingerbread house, and it’s not as bad as Nailed It!, but it’s pretty close. We find out that she’s Candace, the daughter of a Martha Stewart wannabe named Liz Livingstone. She obviously has mommy issues. At the company Christmas party, Liz announces that she’s going to retire from her company, and she’s suggesting Candace as her replacement. Because after all, Candace knows the business side inside and out, and she’s been at the magazine for 5 years. Plus she’s a Livingstone. But obviously, Mom has never seen Candace try to make a gingerbread house, because if she had, she’d realize that her daughter is not up to par on the food side of things.

Candace also said something about not wanting to be the face of the company, but the office is decorated with larger scale blow-ups of the magazine’s cover, and she’s on half of them, so whatever, Candace.

Candace’s Sassy Assistant shows her a viral video of an army kid Harper, whose dad is coming home and kid wants to throw him a welcome home party. But mom is already committed to going to Aspen, what to do? Mom is clearly wanting her daughter to spread her wings and fly and so makes Candace go in her place. The girl who can’t cook is going to party plan. Yay! Off she goes to Cedar Falls, Vermont. Candace made Sassy Assistant drive. But they didn’t call ahead to Harper’s house, so who knows what will happen.

But it’s nice, and Harper’s grandmother is very welcoming. You guys, look at the house. Who decorates that way in the kitchen?? FIRE HAZARD.  And yes, that is a picture I took of my TV.entertaining6

Harper lives with her paternal grandmother, her mom, and is expecting her dad Steve to come home that day. Candace has a meet-cute with Steve’s younger brother John, and then is greeted with the news that Steve’s flight is delayed for 4 more days (curse you, army flights) and in between a Folger’s product placement section where John pours coffee, Candace meets the mayor of Cedar Falls, who twists Candace’s arm to stay in town for the magical Christmas Festivities, which include a gingerbread competition, a craft fair, and a cookie stall. Why Doesn’t My Town Have Any of These Things?

John is a reporter at the Cedar Falls Gazette, and his schedule is super full. Somehow, I really doubt that.

Everyone is falling over themselves because Candace is a mini-celebrity. I guess? Even John is not above using her celebrity to further his career at the small-town reporter by shadowing Candace at all the events to whom the Mayor expects her to attend.  And with all this attention, Candace has a mini-breakdown, because Liz Livingstone is perfection, and Candace is not! But Sassy Assistant says don’t worry, fake it! Play the part and get through the next 4 days. She doesn’t know about John wanting to write all about her, but she does know that she needs to go shopping, as she has no clothes for a Vermont winter.

entertaining5And John shows up while they are shopping to press her about writing, and of course, Sassy Assistant says go for it – it’s good press. Sassy Assistant is also in charge of Social Media, so she knows good press, right? John and Candace walk down a street that boasts a doll house store. Wherever this is, I must go there. We hear that Candace as an MBA in Business, likes numbers, was really close to her dad – who’s dead.

Breakfast at Harper’s house. More Folgers! And more talk of Liz Livingstone’s signature “Snowflake Pancakes” that have already reared their ugly head by being Candace’s bete noir. But John seems to have an inkling that she’s not really all that knowledgeable about cooking, because he asks her to make them, and before you can say Wait Hold The Phone, they’re whisking up batter. As someone who does not flip pancakes all that well, my heart is bleeding for Candace at this moment. Especially as she’s wearing a white turtleneck and is about to cook.entertaining4

Sassy Assistant for the Win – she saves the day by being better at Snowflake Pancakes than Candace is.

Next Stop – Gingerbread Competition in the Town Hall. John seems to be digging for dirt on Candace and her mom, but there doesn’t seem to be any dirt to be had, Candace and her mom have a good relationship. Candace is blindsided by the Mayor, who makes her give a gingerbread demonstration. Candace is not great at the piping bag, but she gives a heartfelt speech and saves the day.

entertaining7Tree Trimming at Harper’s house! And John has to come because of Candace and both his burning desire to be a better reporter and to be with Candace. And while the Candace desire is winning out, John’s editor smells a rat about Candace’s gingerbread performance, and orders him to dig a little deeper. Oh No! And Sassy Assistant also sees John’s dreamy brown eyes and makes sure that she knows that Candace appreciates them. But Sassy Assistant doesn’t, because she has an off-screen fiance.

Oh crap, the landlady at the B&B has just ambushed Candace into a sewing / knitting circle. Don’t you hate it when that happens?  Sassy Assistant helps again by retrieving her purchased scarf and tells her to add buttons. Because who doesn’t love buttons on a scarf? But this sewing circle gives Candace the insight that not everyone loves the perfection of Liz Livingstone, and gets the idea to showcase some not-so-professional works as well.

Who should show up at the end of sewing night is John! He invites her to spend the day together tomorrow and is gobsmacked at her talent with buttons on a scarf, but uh-oh, finds the ripped price tag stuffed in the chair where Candace stashed it. And Holy Crap, Sassy Assistant has to leave because of plot and now Candace is off by herself! But before she can fully commit to leaving town before it gets any worse, she heads to Harper’s house, where Harper and the family are video-chatting with Army Dad – who is wearing visible eyeliner. What up, Make Up Department? But Candace overhears the loving good-byes and says screw it to her reputation, she’s going to stay and make Harper’s reunion with her dad the best ever.

Don’t the people in this town have jobs they have to go to? Who has all this time to attend Christmas Festivals during the day?

John wants to feel like he’s making a difference while working at the small town paper. Maybe he should get a better job. He was always in his big brother’s shadow, and he wants to branch off and do his own thing and be noticed. Gee, I wonder who that feels like? But they have a nice rapport drinking hot chocolate on a park bench. There was also something about an Austrian tradition about a cherry blossom in water blooming before Christmas means you’re lucky in love. She also shows John that traditions in his own home town are just as important as traditions around the world. Which means that John asks her out on a not-date in a bit of cute banter.

Off they go on their date, Candace wearing a new dress she just bought. She apparently also bought really ugly tassel earrings. But they have a nice discussion while walking in the flurries, and I guess this movie really loves that dollhouse store because it’s been in the background at least 4 times so far. John’s idea of a date is to take her to the tree-lighting. And again, I wonder about towns who have tree-lighting ceremonies 2 days before Christmas. entertaining3

Uh-oh, plaintive strings and John stares up at Candace as she poses for pictures by the town tree. Someone’s in love. At the Inn, they are goodbye kiss blocked by landlady and he’s gotta go home and take a cold shower.

Next day, someone gave her a cherry blossom in water. But at the paper, John’s editor sees John’s notes about her faking the knitting, and wants a story on his desk by tomorrow! And here we go with the big finale showdown, Candace agrees to cook a large scale Christmas dinner for the whole town. (I just cooked a Christmas dinner, and apart from figuring out how long the roast needed to go in the oven, it’s super easy, so calm down, Candace).

John offers Candace help for her cooking tryout the night before the party, but she turns him down. Montage of Candace cooking – and she doesn’t peel her carrots or her potatoes, so how is she even pretending it’s a meal? Plus, she’s making a turkey for Christmas dinner, which she spectacularly screws up in front of the Inn landlady. Inn Landlady has a bit of wisdom and says it’s ok not to be perfect, and I won’t tell a soul.

But before she can do that, her mom shows up! But Candace stands up to her mom, even when mom nitpicks the menu which was built all around Harper’s family. Next day Candace and Mom surprise Harper’s family – and Liz Livingstone gets the first inkling that her daughter might have a new guy in her life and is aquiver with excitement.

More decorating, with what are clearly dreidel cutouts. And yes, it’s another shot from my TV, and it’s flopped, and I’m not playing with photoshop right now, so just deal. 🙂


Liz Livingstone is eating crow about her antique crap that no one likes – and then Candace overhears her mom say that she wishes she could be more like her daughter, so yay, no Sad Times yet – except the head of Livingstone’s Board of Directors has just arrived – bet you the article is going to come out and there’s going to be Sad Times…however, we’ve got 16 minutes left of this movie and when are we going to get there?

Oh, wait – Candace is going to pick up John at the paper so he won’t miss the party. He tells her she looks really good, and leaves her alone with his desk, where she sees all his post-it notes about her being not that great at the Susie Homemaker stuff, and storms out. SAD TIMES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But I BET the article that John wrote is really about how great Candace is, and those post-its he didn’t throw away properly were just a red herring.

Steve has arrived an hour early! And Candace makes him stand outside, where he sees everyone turn out the lights in his house. Duh. But it’s a nice homecoming anyway. And the turkey came out good, and then Candace comes clean and says she’s not perfect like her mom in front of the whole town. But she’s ok with not being perfect – and so I’d say Harper’s family has just spared Candace a mountain of therapy bills. And John has arrived to hear this speech and is speechless himself for just a minute. But before we can truly get out of the Sad Times, we get to see the Board of Director guy say ok to Candace running the company.

John’s article is a glowing puff piece about how great Candace is. Called it. He sees her because he’s a reporter and found all about her. And she says I’m not perfect, and he says “You are for me.”  And the entire house of people is standing in the doorway watching them kiss outside. The End.

This one was fine. It was cute. It had a small town. It had cookies. It had realistic looking snow. And it had erstwhile Michael Guerin from Roswell. It was nice to see a movie where no one had major angst bigger than a gingerbread house. Right now, Younger Son has angst about a Lego figure. I have my work cut out for me. But I’ll get through that, as well as everything else, just so you don’t have to.





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