It’s time for Christmas. Do you know it’s Christmas? In the event, you weren’t sure. Hallmark decided to make a film called Welcome to Christmas.
Resort developer Madison Lane (Finnigan) is tasked with finding a location for a new ski resort. While she’s prepared to recommend the resort be placed in Mountain Park, her boss tells her to take a trip to Christmas, Colo., to consider the location and the incentive package they’re offering. On her way into town to meet with the mayor, Madison has a minor fender-bender with the town’s welcome sign. Town Sheriff Gage McBride (Mabius) gives Madison a ride into town so she can attend the meeting while the car is towed and repaired. Little does Madison know that the town is on a mission to convince Madison that Christmas is the best place for the new ski resort. While stranded, Madison grows to love the community and the spirit of Christmas that runs throughout. Is a resort really the right move for Christmas? Or would the town be better off keeping its charm and traditions intact? Starring Eric Mabius and Jennifer Finnigan.
We start off at a Sheriff’s house. And that sheriff’s name is Gage McBride. A natural, normal name. He has two cute blonde daughters. One is just spirited and adorable. The other is sour. She’s beginning her journey into teenage-dom so Mr. Sheriff better hold onto his hat.
As he heads out the door, a woman named Nell (who I thought was his mother but is NOT, it’s his busy aunt) asks him to do some more thinking about saving the town. Just a casual discussion. There’s a developer that is looking at Christmas for its new ski resort and the town needs to prove that it can compete against the big boys like neighboring town, Mountain Park. A small town wants a big developer to build its ski resort there? This is an insane twist, Hallmark. Gage McBride takes his coffee and thinks about it.
Gage McBride visits the local café to meet with the Mayor. Christmas is suffering because tourists aren’t coming anymore and the town is left with only one tradition: the holiday fair. Can’t afford old traditions if people ain’t paying. The people are counting on the ski resort to revitalize Christmas (the town).
At the developer’s office, we meet hotshot developer Madison Lane. She also has her own line of clothing for women aged 40-65 at JCPenney’s, but that’s not the focus of the film. Madison Lane is pushing her choice for the ski resort, when some weasely executive objects and votes for Christmas (the town). The head honcho agrees and tells Madison Lane to visit the town before they make a decision.
Gage McBride is back at home and tells Nell that he might be leaving Christmas (the town) behind. It’s just not big enough and has no opportunity for development. He then looks longingly at a photo of him hugging a woman. Let’s just all agree it’s his dead wife and get that out of the way early. Mom receives a call from the Mayor who has big news: the developer is coming to Christmas (the town)! Prepare the decorations and heartwarming activities!
Madison Lane arrives and rams into the town’s entrance sign. It’s played for laughs rather than as a warning against distracted driving on icy roads. Gage McBride arrives at the scene. Madison Lane tells the sheriff that she’s here to visit on behalf of the developer and doesn’t intend to give the ski resort to them. After some more flirtation, he gives Madison Lane a ride into town.
She meets Christmas’s committee who gives a Powerpoint presentation.
Madison Lane deigns to leave, but not only has the town sabotaged her car, they also guilt her into being the guest of honor at the “festival of lights”. They haven’t done it in years so the committee has to scramble to get this organized. This is like a 90s sitcom where the bumbling lead has to make up new, wacky ways to impress the boss from out of town.
Gage McBride and Nell take Madison Lane on a tour of town. Nell gives the developer an overview of all the activities they have planned. But they haven’t actually planned any of them so she’s a dirty liar. They also take Madison Lane to the sheriff’s house where she meets his daughters. Bold move. Sic the kids on her. The couple takes a moment to talk about why she’s against Christmas (the town). They don’t get anywhere with this.
The town secretly puts up the festival of lights while Madison Lane stays in the hotel. Hopefully, she doesn’t step out for a meal or the jig is up.
Nell is a bit nuts about this ski resort and is going whole hog into tricking Madison Lane. She even makes her granddaughters to make Christmas stockings for the developer to see. Nell forces the poor woman join the girls in this slave labor.
Madison Lane and Gage McBride go Christmas shopping. Gage McBride tells his possible new lover that his wife is dead. That’s the purpose of this scene.
Later, while Madison Lane is on a call with her boss to convince him that Christmas (the town) isn’t worth it, she spies Gage McBride lightly scolding his child. The girl begrudgingly takes the reprimanding and walks off. Madison Lane approaches and gives Gage McBride some advice on handling 13 year old girls (the advice is “good luck”). Our Hallmark heroine takes a moment to speak with the young teenager and they bond. Someone is gonna be a mom soon!
The town tries to pull of the next big heist by scrambling to make the festival of lights and making Madison Lane do the official launch. It’s pulled off without a hitch. Gage McBride uses this time to convince Madison Lane to choose Christmas (the town) and him.
She tries to speak to her boss again the next morning. He doesn’t mind footing the bill for her to stay in this Podunk place so she can do “due diligence.” He’s way into Christmas (the town) which is unusual for a developer.
There’s another cockamamie event called the Ornament Hunt. Nell makes Madison Lane make ornaments with the sheriff. Mind you, this is a hunt for the whole town. Two amateur ornament makers are going to have a difficult time. That’s not enough for Nell though. After they finish making about two ornaments, the old woman forces them to make Christmas cookies. The fun doesn’t stop here. Madison Lane is also roped into decorating the Christmas tree. One of the girls says “you’re part of the family now.” No pressure, Madison Lane.
The ornament hunt event takes place and Gage McBride’s family ft. Madison Lane wins. This feels against the rules. The townspeople should revolt. Actually, there’s one character that might revolt: a committee member that appears to have a crush on the sheriff and doesn’t approve of Madison Lane. The developer is dropping mad hints that she’s into the guy.
The next day, the committee meets to say things like “we’re going to charm Madison if it kills us!” Are they one of the coal towns I’ve heard so much about? They reek of desperation. Gage McBride is volunteered as Santa and he then volunteers Madison Lane to play Mrs. Claus. How do they not have a Mrs. Claus? These events are meant to be annual and the team is meant to be tricking Madison Lane into believing so. Piss poor work from the committee.
Yet! Madison Lane is falling for it. She leaves a voicemail for the boss to say that she thinks Christmas (the town) is worth it.
The next day, Madison Lane gets a catty talking-to from the lady that likes Gage McBride. She doesn’t think an out of towner should be messing about with the town’s men. Madison Lane tells this woman that Gage McBride is looking for another job. There’s no reason for her to reveal this info besides causing plot problems later.
Madison Lane is bigger than this random woman so she goes ahead and further bonds with Gage McBride’s kids. The teenager is really into Madison Lane’s motherly coolness. This actually helps Gage McBride bond with the girl too. Madison Lane is a wizard.
More good news for Madison: the developers are choosing Christmas (the town)! They say that once the ski resort comes in, there will be malls, chain restaurants, and much much more! This worries Madison Lane. What happens to towns after they build? Let me guess, they lose their “character.” She does some research and, yes, this is the case. The mom and pop shops close. Walmart is king! Or maybe Target if it’s a ski resort town.
She tells her boss this information, but he’s a developer. He doesn’t care. She tells him “I believe Christmas is worth fighting for.” This doesn’t change his mind because he’s living his life outside of a Hallmark film.
At the next makeshift town event, Madison Lane gets a key to the city. It’s weird, but whatever. Madison pours her heart out and tells Christmas (the town) that building a ski resort is a problem. The town isn’t chill with this news. Gage McBride tries to calm the town down and asks them to listen to Madison Lane for his sake. Woman With A Crush slams him by saying that the town shouldn’t have to care about him because he’s possibly leaving them all for good. A wave of shock and discomfort spreads over the last-minute annual Christmas event. Gage McBride departs in sadness.
Madison Lane chases after Gage McBride to patch things up. His sheriff heart is broken so he’s not really biting. This is enough for Madison Lane to pick up sticks and leave town. This breaks the teenager’s heart. Lots of broken hearts around here. A sad day for Christmas (the town).
Nell meets Gage McBride to tell him that he loves Madison Lane. In case he wasn’t sure about it. Madison Lane changed their lives somehow. I guess by forcing them to make impromptu events.
In big city Denver, Madison Lane packs up her work stuff to get out of Dodge. She has a great idea after saying that “Christmas is home.” I’m waiting for the fantastic way she’s planning to save the town. I bet you it’s going to be a slogan like “Come home for Christmas.”
In Christmas (the town), Sheriff McBride is holding a town hall to dispel the rumors of his impending departure. He says he’s committed to Christmas (the town) and will be staying. The audience claps.
This is followed by an announcement by the boss developer. He pulls a gotcha on the town and brings Madison Lane on stage. The town does not boo or hiss. She tells them about what Christmas (the town) is about and it sounds strangely similar to what people say about Christmas (the holiday). The developer’s plan? Make Christmas (the town) a year-round holiday destination. This is Hallmark Channel’s dream.
Madison Lane tells Gage McBride she loves Christmas (the town). Gage McBride tells her that he’s afraid if she leaves she’s going to crash into the sign. They kiss. FIN.
Next up is Entertaining Christmas, a film about someone who lives in the shadow of a woman who is the height of WASPy.
- There’s a girl making a great face behind woman with a crush in one of my screenshots. She stays this way the whole film.
- The developer makes the ski resort announcement in a random fleece jacket. This is terrible PR.
- I liked my terrible slogan idea better than a year round Christmas town.
- Find the rest of the recap/reviews here.