#105 – The Christmas Ring

The ring in question does not look like the ring on the poster, FYI.

Sensing a theme? It’s time for another ring focused movie! I’m just steaming through these movies. Fingers crossed that this is better than the weird train wreck that was my previous entry. All on board for The Christmas Ring! Starring someone named Nazneen Contractor who has proved her acting creds by appearing in both Law and Order and Hawaii 5-0, and as you see, is a non-traditional choice as a lead for a Hallmark Christmas movie, so yay that we are broadening the casting horizons!

Looks like we’re in Boston, and our heroine is met at the elevator by her assistant bearing cookies. In a brief exchange we realize that our heroine is single, looking for love, and loves sugar. It looks like she’s some kind of writer at some kind of BuzzFeed thing called Quizzer, but she hates it because it’s not real journalism – because the editor keeps saying things like listicles, and shooting down her human interest pieces on rappers who do charity. There’s also something about a celebrity, with an ex who has fallen off the map even though the girl is thriving post break-up. I’m wondering if that’s a thing for the future in this movie? Who knows. Kendra (our heroine) is now supposed to write something about what kind of elf would you be in the North Pole. My God, how the creative mind must be stifled in such a place, but she won’t quit because she’s practical and knows she can’t make any money going freelance. Plus, medical.

Lunch hour approaches, and she goes to an antique market, looking for her mom’s ring that got misplaced or sold or something after both her parents died. She finds one in a shop that is similar, but this one has an inscription “Forever My Christmas Love, 1948” and she’s itching to know the story about it – she can trace it via the jeweler’s mark, and it’s also the great story she knows would take her website to the next level, but the editor rightly shoots it down as not clickable. But that doesn’t stop Kendra as she sits at her desk in the dark, staring at this nice ring and then firing up Google to search the jeweler’s mark.

Next scene, we’re in Pine Grove, Massachusetts, where the jeweler made the ring. Her assistant is like, wait, what are you doing? And Kendra is like, I’ve got personal time, I’ve already written my stupid elf article, and I am going to transform the state of listicle journalism with this piece. And then she has a meet-cute in front of where the jewelry store used to be with a surly man with a yardstick by the sidewalk. Jewelry store is now a bakery. Bakery owner was the grandson of the jeweler, who just happens to have his grandfather’s old ledger just on the counter. Why do that? I worked in a bakery, and you need that space for more cupcakes! The person who bought the ring is dead, but his grandson is still there. Guess it’s gonna be the surly yardstick man, right? She makes a beeline for the house of the grandson which is way overly decorated, and yup, surly yardstick man it is! AND GUESS WHAT? His name is Michael Jones, and he’s the ex of that star that was mentioned by the other guy in the first scene. Of COURSE he is. He also says his grandma never owned a ring. That means Kendra is staying in Pine Grove, where every business is named after the town, in order to find out the story.

Pine Grove is having a Main Street Christmas Festival with a Tree Lighting the next day, as Kendra learns from the bakery owner’s wife who owns the bed and breakfast. Is everyone related in this town? The woman who supposedly owned the titular ring it is named Pearl, she was the head of the Christmas Festival Committee, and she was lovely. Good for Pearl. The Festival also has a Christmas Eve dance, because of COURSE there’s a dance. Luckily enough, it seems Michael Jones has a brother named Scott who might be more amenable to give an interview about his grandparents. So off Kendra goes to the General Store, and runs into Michael again! How many times are they going to meet cute? But now, Michael knows she’s a reporter, and she knows he’s a story, and Michael is very unsure as to why she’s not still trying to chat him up.

Scott’s wife, Kate, is Editor-in-Chief of the town paper. Neither she nor her husband want to help Kendra with Michael, but they are nice enough to let Kendra look at the microfiche. Both Kate and Kendra love Nellie Bly, so that’s nice, and off she goes to investigate and get eye strain. I remember microfiche, and it sucked. But Kendra finds things right off the bat, and then takes a photo of the screen with her phone. From what I remember, you could print off stuff you found on microfiche, but what do accurate memories and technical correctness have to do with this type of movie. William (the grandfather of Michael) proposed to Pearl (the grandmother) with the ring at one of those Christmas Eve dances in 1948 and it made front page news. Kendra is over the moon, and she immediately runs into Michael, and now he believes her, and now Kendra is super excited to help out at the Christmas Festival.

She is found out by her editor, and editor is all over the fact that Michael Jones is involved the story, and that sucks, but now Quizzer.com is going to pay for her stay. However, editor needs a story with Michael Jones in it, and Kendra doesn’t want to write that at all. What are the odds that SOMEONE from Quizzer is going to attempt that story and thereby introducing the town of Pine Grove to The Sad Times? I feel like that’s an unfair bet.

She and Michael meet at the bakery tent at the tree lighting and now they can talk together while he very awkwardly does handy work on a bandstand. Michael’s grandparents were very much in love, and Kendra says her parents were the same, and then it’s weird and they separate but on good terms. But Michael confesses to his brother that he fell for the wrong person once before (big celebrity break up, remember?), and brother and wife are like, yeah, but Kendra seems nice, you should go out with her – I’m wondering if they ever really listened to him at all. Tree lighting! Huzzah! (Still underwhelming). But I guess Michael is caught up in the moment and offers to let Kendra look at some of his grandmother’s stuff at his house. Is that like come up and look at my etchings?

This town seems to have been hit by a blizzard overnight if you go by the overhead shot, but it doesn’t stop Kendra walking around in a non winter coat. She and Michael wax poetic about the old car in his garage, and she says the 50s were her favorite Christmas memories (?) but she says she likes Nat King Cole’s Christmas album so we’ll give her a pass. But they both understand each other about nostalgia and idealistic Christmas thoughts. Turns out Michael’s parents are dead, and he’s living in Pearl’s house, which is about as brand spanking new a house as you’d ever see, but whatever. The attic where all the stuff is is strewn with Christmas lights. Kendra explains why she’s a writer at Quizzer (because they were the only ones hiring) and Michael says she should branch out and do her own thing. They are growing closer, isn’t it nice? They are then going through a box of Pearl’s old things, and I call shenanigans because white satin gloves from a debutante ball in the 40s do not stay that gleaming white over 70 years later.

They also find blueprints of the town’s General Store, which the grandparents owned. Apparently the grandfather designed it, too, on land that they purchased in 1948. Grandmother Pearl was a debutante, and Grandfather William was a railway man, and were they from two different worlds? I don’t know, it’s a mystery. But Michael totally wigs out about her theory that they didn’t come from the same type of world, and defends grandpa from being a gold digger, so I’m assuming that his ex fiance accused him of being one, and he’s really sensitive about that.

This kitchen at this bed and breakfast is a fire hazard. There is also a thing in this town call Magnify Main Street, where the town throws up Christmas decorations all over itself. But not at the General Store, where Scott is not a great shop owner, (damn you online shopping!) Kendra wants to help decorate the store and Michael begrudgingly says ok. The store just magically has a sleigh behind it. Kendra is not dressed for manual labor, but whatever. They also find a cement heart with grandma and grandpa’s initials in it – dated 1949 – why a year after they bought it and 2 years before the store opened? Michael says don’t read too much into it, but Kendra is like, it’s all connected.

But then Michael opens up about his break up, (they were fine until they weren’t, and he walked away rather than work as an architect with his ex on business they were really good at together just because she cheated on him) and Kendra is sympathetic, and then the bakery comes through with an old note that’s written on new paper. It’s from grandpa, and its the design for the ring with important plot points written on it – grandma’s parents were snobs and were going to send her away after the new year, so grandpa had to spend all his money on the ring and not the store in order not to lose the love of his life. Awwww.

More Christmas decorating at the store. Kendra and Michael decorate the tree, and are wondering how grandpa got enough money to break ground on his store if he just spent his life savings on the engagement ring. I think it’s obvious we’ve got a Gift of the Magi thing going on here and Pearl sold the ring in order to help grandpa with his life’s dream. And Michael complements Kendra on her intelligence but if she’s so intelligent, why can’t she see this plot that is over 100 years old? (Published in 1905 – it’s 115, to be exact!).

Kendra’s boss is harping on her that she needs the article in 3 days, and so Kendra promises to send the boss what she has (notes and fragments). You KNOW those fragments are going to be pieced together by someone other than Kendra, right? Like it’s not even a question? We still have 50 minutes of this. Kendra then calls her assistant to complain and to get a pep talk, and assistant is like, aww, you like Michael! And Kendra does the “we have a bad internet connection, gotta go” thing so she doesn’t have to confess that she likes him.

Meanwhile, back at the general store, Michael and Scott have an offer to sell it, but the prospective buyer is just going to tare it down and build a non-branded Starbucks, and Michael is super sad about it and his architect ideas are sparking right outside of his head as he sees the potential of his grandparents’ store. But before they can do that, it’s time for Magnify Main Street, and Michael got the old dream car running and Michael’s brother and sister-in-law are like Michael, you loooooooove Kendra and that’s super awesome and you should invite her to the Christmas Eve dance. And he’s like, um, maybe?

See that face? That’s a face of a girl who is not impressed with Michael’s denials of his feelings for Kendra.

Kendra loves Pine Grove so much, and Michael and she are having a nice time, and she tries to tell him that her boss is all about his sob story, but they are distracted by a shooting star – you know, as you do – and they kiss each other in the front seat of the old car, and then they get all weird about it and she runs away.

Next day, they are still together trying to figure out how William got money for the store, and then they randomly decide to hold a Cookie Exchange. Kate and Kendra are all over it, and the men are like um, maybe? But that’s probably because they don’t know how to bake. Pearl’s favorite were Peppermint Whoopie Pies, and they track down the recipe, which was Pearl’s mother’s recipe and now we have a montage of baking. I’m super envious of the huge marble island that is in Michael’s house, but Michael’s whoopie pie game is not that good. Kendra gets a text from her editor with “Great Notes on Michael” and you know that’s going to turn out badly.

They baked – see – they’re wearing aprons!

Everyone loves the cookie exchange, but I call shenanigans because it looks like everyone made cut out cookies with royal icing. A cookie exchange needs VARIETY. Kendra keeps trying to get her boss to back off on the piece on Michael’s break up but she is not good at convincing editor to shut up.

Next day, Kendra and Michael are walking down a way too overly decorated street, talking about how they shouldn’t sell the General Store, and Kendra says she has to mention his name in her article, which falls WAY too short from what her editor wants, and which I feel is just a cop-out. He says ok, but don’t mention that he’s the guy from the celebrity break up. How will it all come together? They are on their way to another jewelry store, trying to see if the ring got sold, and wouldn’t you know it, there’s another old person there to help out. It’s amazing how many people remember a random piece of jewelry. Called the Gift of the Magi issue with the ring, so yay, but also, um, duh.

Kendra gives the ring back to Michael, and he asks her to the Christmas Eve dance, and I wonder how much personal time she actually has away from her job. She’s busy trying to finish her article, and she’s in her room that has its own Christmas tree. Is there a mandate among set designers on all these movies that there has to be one in every room?

She’s also writing the article she wants to write, which means it’s not about Michael all that much, so will it mean she’s getting fired for Christmas? Off it goes via email, and next morning, she gets a million missed calls from her assistant who says that editor ruined the story. And in order to find that out, Kendra GOOGLES her own company’s website. WHY???????????????????????????????????? HOW IS THAT A THING? Wouldn’t she have it saved as a bookmark? Wouldn’t she just type in quizzer.com or something? UGH. And yes, Editor made the article all about Michael as the ex of the celebrity. That bitch.

WHY oh WHY did Kendra not see this coming?!?!?!?! But off Kendra goes to apologize (and blames her boss) and Michael doesn’t believe her and kicks her out of the General store. SAD TIMES. Revel in them, Kendra. Stew in them Michael. You only have 10 minutes left.

Kendra goes to yell at her boss in Boston. Finally, she quits. And then she gets Kate, the editor-in-chief of the Pine Grove Gazette and Michael’s sister-in-law, how convenient, to run her version of the article. We then get a nice voice over of how her story and the ring’s story intertwines, and Michael finally reads it, and Kendra has done a Never Been Kissed thing and proclaims her love for Michael in the article, that she quit her job, and that she’s going to the dance, and she’s waiting for him. Will he show up? Will he?????????????

Seriously, there is a girl wearing jeans at this dance.

He showed up! He apologizes and looks really constipated. But they dance, and she says she’s going to start her own online magazine out of her apartment in Boston, and he’s moving to Boston, what a coincidence, and then he gives her the ring back (but on a chain, don’t let’s get crazy thinking they’re going to get married after knowing each other for 14 days) but it is implied that they’re going to live together and go back and forth between Boston and Pine Grove and we’re done.

This was very predictable, but in a nice way. I didn’t hate it. Didn’t love it – I mean, it’s no Crown for Christmas which I actually purchased from Amazon Prime for $7.99 in order to have it all year long. But it served its purpose. And now I only have 6 more movies on my DVR. Will I get to another one tomorrow? I don’t know. But I’ll watch them all, just so you don’t have to.

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