I think this is a maudlin one – it’s on the “inspirational” version of the Hallmark channel. As long as it’s not like the Zachary Levi sob-fest “Any Sunday” I will be ok – I once watched that and then watched ET, and I didn’t stop crying for the entire evening. I Heart Zachary Levi. But anyway – he’s not in this one. This one stars the guy who was the bad guy from the first season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and the girl who was in that short lived CW show about Romeo and Juliet except Romeo was an alien and they were in the bayou. I’m not making that up – it was a real show – check it out here. Anyway, that’s not why we’re here, even though Matt Lanter was in it (late of NBC’s Timeless). We’re here for Once Upon a Christmas Miracle.
BTW it’s just after 7am on a Saturday morning and I’m up doing this for you. You’re welcome. (It’s not because I couldn’t breathe having caught Younger Son’s cold. And it’s not because Younger Son decided at 630am that it would be the perfect time to come for a cuddle). – Younger Son is reading over my shoulder and would like to clarify that his stomach hurt, that’s why he came up to my room. There. We’re all caught up.
We start with a voice over – it’s not Christmas until our heroine goes to Chicago. At the title card, we get that this was inspired by True Events – before we go back 1 year. Our hero works at a Christmas tree farm, and heroine is named Heather Krueger. Heather is in search of trees for both her house and her cabin, so you know she’s rich. Our hero is just out of the Marines and is respectful of the veterans.
Heather is showing signs of exhaustion, but she doesn’t let it get her down. She’s a first year Grad Student in Nursing and also decorates up her dorm before almost collapsing at the party. Her mom is guilting her into going to the hospital, because apparently this feeling is not a new thing. I’d think as a first year grad student in nursing, she’d know what’s the problem.
The Krueger family is fully decorated – and AGAIN with crap all over the kitchen counters. I do not understand why set designers continue in this trend – does anyone in the real world do this? Everything will just get full of grease and flour. Or is that only my kitchen? Heather’s family wants to take it easy with all their Christmas traditions until Heather gets her tests results, but she says no! The Krueger family cookie exchange must go on! Meanwhile, hero’s name is Chris Dempsey, who is showing up at an interview for a Habitat for Humanity type of thing that’s international – and he shows up in jeans and a tan work jacket.
Chris’s mother is so excited that he’s home from the Marines she’s already fixed him up with her hairdresser’s daughter. Who is all on her phone. Heather is on a date with a tool from her nursing school and both are having a rough night until they meet each other at the bar where apparently it’s loud because they have to shout at each other.
At Heather’s doctor’s office it is obscenely decorated for the holidays. NO ONE DOES THIS. And her doctor starts by introducing themselves, so why are they her doctors? Anyway, she has an auto-immune disease based in her liver. In order to live, she needs a liver transplant as soon as possible. But since the liver is magic (it regenerates) someone can still be alive and donate a part of their liver. And her friend is positive about Heather finding a match – but the face on Heather re how they’re going to pay for it. Her family is all about getting the word out and doing a social media campaign for a donor, but Heather is realistic about how much of an ask this type of request is. Interesting quandary – right – would you do this for a complete stranger?
We finally understand that her sister doesn’t have the same blood type so she can’t be a donor – Younger Son was quite concerned about why the sister couldn’t do it. Her parents are climbing the family tree looking for donors, and apparently no one in the Kruegers are a match.
Owner of the place where Chris works is related to Heather. Anyway, Chris overhears the need for Heather’s liver, and since he’s adrift in a sea of Jean Valjean-ness (Who am I?) and just wants to be of service, a little seed of an idea is planted in his blandly handsome face.
For someone with Stage Four Liver Disease, she looks great. She is going to take some time away from school and live it up right now – all her Christmas traditions because she is staring death in the face. Then we cut to Chris telling his mom he went to get screened for Heather’s donation, and his mom is super pissed about this until he throws “You always taught me to be a stand-up guy” in her face and then she can’t argue anymore.
Heather’s sister has just made a gingerbread house that is a match for their own house. You mean you don’t do that? Heather gets a text from Chris asking her to lunch at the same bar where they met cute. They are SO In sync, you guys! Everything about their conversation is screaming soul mates. They both love egg nog. (I do not understand that drink at all). And he drops the bombshell that they are a match! A liver match. (And a heart match. And a brain match – but right now we just care about the liver.) We care so much Heather has to hug him across the table. And then they have Mexican food.
Krueger Cookie Exchange – and Chris is invited. Her family is tripping over themselves in gratitude and he’s overwhelmed. Heather’s mom is also struck by how cute Chris is. And we get a run-down of the Krueger Family Traditions – (lights on Michigan Ave, making a wreath, getting eggnog, cookie exchange, and dinner at the family cabin). Chris doesn’t have any Christmas traditions as he’s been in the military for a while. WHY ARE THEY NOT SCHEDULING SURGERY? WHY ARE THEY DOING COOKIE THINGS? I DO NOT UNDERSTAND!
At this Cookie Party, their cousin Jack (tree guy) is baking in their kitchen. During the party. WHO DOES THAT???
Finally they go to the doctors, where they are treated with a personalized printed brochure that says Congratulations that they are a match. I do not think that this is a thing that hospitals do. Do you? Surgery is scheduled for Monday. Thank you for that continuing plot point.
Heather shows up at the farm for a tree for her cabin. Heather gets Chris’s backstory about how he hasn’t been home for 5 years, and how he likes to travel. Before you can say falling in love he volunteers to go to Heather’s family cabin for some reason – the day before the surgery.
Heather just totally lies to her friend Jeanette about how she hasn’t noticed that Chris is handsome. I’m sorry – this cabin thing is bugging me. Because it is already full of Christmas lights that are already on even though no one is there. FIRE HAZARD. And the cabin is nicer than my house. Why did we have that little section about wondering how they are going to pay for the surgery? Heather makes her own wreaths – they are at the cabin for fresh greenery because even though Chris works at the tree farm, they need to get this special greenery – how many freaking wreaths do you need? Basically every door and window is covered in them already. And we have a whole conversation about wreaths – she makes one for every holiday. They are a symbol of everlasting love. Or something.
Surgery Day. Even the ward is decorated for Christmas – which I REFUSE to believe is a thing because of cleanliness. While they are on their respective gurneys Heather has a momentary freak-out but Chris is an ocean of calm. After the fastest surgery ever we cut to Heather waking up in her room that again has way too many Christmas things in it. Time passes while she goes in an out of consciousness, but she’s not hooked up to an IV and neither is Chris, but they look great convalescing. She’s up and walking, needing to visit Chris and ensure he’s ok. Then we get a scene of them eating Jello while watching a Hallmark movie on tv. Very Meta.
One week later – Heather is home in her jammies re-reading her texts from Chris. But apparently she’s well enough to attend her nursing school’s ugly Christmas sweater party. I really do not think someone who has just had a transplant should be going to a party. But we also hear that she hasn’t talked to Chris since they left the hospital and is conflicted about calling him. And for his part, Chris is walking around shopping. They must have some amazing doctors in Chicago.
Heather is still conflicted – does she feel the way she feels about Chris because of the fact that now she has a part of his liver inside her, or does she really like him, like like him, like him? And Chris is having the same conflict. But she got over her scruples and they’re on some kind of date walking down a street, where, even though it’s a week before Christmas, people are still putting up lights. THAT IS NOT A THING, people.
Oh, and we hear that Heather lost her scholarship because she had to put a stop to her studies, and can’t go back until she pays for her medical bills. Whatever. Chris gets the “I’m gonna kiss this girl face” but Heather chickens out and they progress down the street.
Heather’s dad is still decorating their house. I do not believe this house needs any more decorating. But Chris shows up to have a plan to help Heather with her bills – a fundraiser or something, on Christmas Eve – less than a week away. I do not believe that anyone will attend a fundraiser on Christmas Eve. But her parents are all in love with the idea and are 2 seconds away from saying “Welcome to the Family” for reals.
Heather’s sister gives her another push to call Chris because we all see that he’s perfect for her – and so she awkwardly invites him shopping at “The Christmas Corner.” And fundraiser is set for The Gibraltar Hotel which is also donating the catering. I guess Heather is like a Christmas angel – everyone loves her and wants to help. And while they are having a delightful time, Chris gets the call that he got the overseas job! Just when he wants to put down roots.
It’s Christmas Eve – Krueger family is headed to the hotel for a “Christmas Eve Dinner” – the ruse to get Heather to the fundraiser, and before they leave the house, Dad claps his hands and the fireplace goes out. WHAT TIME PERIOD ARE WE LIVING IN? Does The Clapper also work on gas fireplaces????? WHAT IS HAPPENING?
Heather is gobsmacked at the party for her – and at this elegant hotel, there is a white Christmas tree in the corner looking like the Charlie Brown tree. Heather and Chris have a mutual admiration society going, and we finally get a shot of Heather’s mom and Chris’s mom bonding together. I am frankly insulted that they didn’t bond earlier. Heather gives a speech where she says generosity twice in 2 sentences. But everyone loves it.
And now the obligatory dance scene where Heather and Chris finally get to embrace in a socially acceptable way before they decide to be a couple. Chris tells her that he got the job but hasn’t accepted it yet, because ‘things are complicated now’ and she has to run away crying because she doesn’t want to hold him back. He’s got all sorts of conflict roiling inside and she won’t deal with it until after Christmas so both of them has just descended rapidly into The Sad Times.
Christmas morning. It’s a perpetual flurry in this town, and Heather’s family is fully dressed in fancy clothes while they open presents. This is a monster family. And Chris and his mom are also dressed to the nines while they open presents, too. They are both still in the Sad Times – until Heather texts Chris to meet up on Christmas Freaking Day – his mom is very understanding about that – and so Chris drives all the way up to Heather’s family cabin.
The family cabin also has the sad white tree from the hotel. Heather gives Chris the “I love you speech” before he even takes his coat off. It’s a nice speech. She doesn’t want to stand in the way of his dreams, but his dreams are right here with her so it all works out! Smooches galore – except he has to bend awkwardly to reach her face because he’s taller than she is, and she doesn’t tilt up.
Magically, Chris’s mom shows up for dinner at the cabin despite the flurry.
Then we get to One Year Later (the opening shot of the movie) where Chris pulls up in a very overly decorated horse-drawn carriage in a tux while she’s shopping on Michigan Avenue to propose to her. She says yes, and then we cut to a wedding picture of the real Heather and Chris Dempsey and isn’t that nice? Looks like they had a fall wedding, judging by the amount of leaves that are cluttering up the background of their photo.
So. This one was fine. I still have major issues with how all these movies are decorated. I think they have rules about it, though – I know Hallmark has rules about snow – which is why you never see Christmas in Miami. Anyway. One more movie down – gladly watched, just so you don’t have to.