Christmas Tree Lane

Alright. I wasn’t even planning to watch this one but I did. I don’t know why, I just wasn’t looking forward to this one at all. But I watched it, and I didn’t hate it. So let’s get in to it, okay?

Meg, our lead, is a music teacher and she begins her day with music instruction. After the lesson, she heads to the bank, saying hello to everyone on her street. Just a woman of the people. On her way home from the bank, she decides to stop at an outdoor coffee vendor with plans to order one of the most disappointing drinks of all time-black DECAF coffee. IN THE MORNING. GUYS. WHAT IS THE POINT?! However, her plans are waylaid by a grown man asking for extra sprinkles on his hot chocolate. He seems very interested in her, despite her being kind of a grump and invites her to sit down on a bench. She interrupts him when she hears a Christmas song sung by a Children’s choir on the outdoor speakers. “Can you hear the joy in their voices?” She asks. “YES DEFINITEY” Nate replies. When he tells her he didn’t realize her family music store, Reilly’s, is still open, she gets a little offended and decides to leave. She even forgets her hat and doesn’t immediately notice how cold her ears are in that cold Vancouver summer breeze.

When she gets back to the store, she receives a troubling bit of news. The owner of ALL the buildings on Christmas Tree Lane has found a loophole in their lease and has decided to evict them and sell the whole kit and caboodle. But guess what’s going to be built in their place? Did you guess condos? Me too. BUT IT’S NOT CONDOS YOU GUYS. It’s “creative spaces for media technology.” It is a new era in Hallmarkland. Condos are out and “creative spaces for media technology” are the new bad boys of Hallmark.

At work, Nate apologizes for his “disaster zone” of an office, which is the same phrase I use when people come to my house after I’ve spent an entire day cleaning. Nate’s disaster zone amounts to a single box of Christmas decorations on his desk in an otherwise empty office. We learn he works for his dad and has apparently just moved back to Denver.

At her dad’s house, Meg chats about their predicament. He offers her some food but she doesn’t eat it. He’s like, okay well you better go then. She walks around the corner of the house to the mother in law unit she must live in. FUNNY BIT.

The next morning, the tenants of Christmas Tree Lane hold an EMERGENCY MEETING. One extra unhelpfully suggests they buy their spaces 60 years ago. Right now it seems their options are leave within 90 days or take a “buy out” and leave early. They brainstorm some options to drum up business and perhaps…get the momentum of public opinion on their side? I think that’s their strategy. No one suggests filing a lawsuit for wrongful eviction.

Instead, they plan to hold a tree decorating contest, contact a local television station, pass out fliers…you know, the usual Hallmark stuff for saving an historic building or whatever. Oh and all of these activities will culminate in…a Pageant? A Gala? A Festival? CLOSE! A Christmas Eve Concert. Meg does not want to perform though so don’t even ask.

Then, Nate shows up with her hat from the day before! Emma immediately leaves, which is too bad because I might have liked them together better. They chit chat a little… he works at a real estate investment firm…nothing to see here folks…going to run it when his dad retires… you know. The age old tale. But what he REALLY LOVES is being an architect. At least it’s not wreath design. So anyway, Meg proves she’s a real music nerd and again, seems to take offense that Nate doesn’t enjoy listening to music on vinyl. Nate is undeterred. She tries to SELL HIM a record player and then ends up just giving him one along with a children’s record. COOL. He promises to return.

The next day, the street is busy with their preparations to save themselves. Everyone is getting trees to decorate and what not. Nate returns, like a pig to the trough, and wants to buy the record player. He noticed the signs and didn’t realize THE ENTIRE STREET was at risk of going out of business. Meg says it won’t be in trouble if they all just band together and hold a concert. But Meg, that’s not how it works. A building owner can sell his buildings even if people don’t like it? It’s all private property? So anyway that’s where we are with that. Nevertheless, Nate offers to help her pick out a Christmas tree because architects are great at that. She’s like, being an architect sounds a lot like song writing. He’s like, oh, you write songs? She’s like no never mind. Forget I mentioned that. Then she gives him some history about the shop. They arrive at her BFF Emma’s coffee shop. She said Emma opened the shop right after college. And, well, I’m sorry. No. That didn’t happen. I’m just sure of it.

Inside, Nate suggests a really great sounding drink for Meg. She says that would put her in a sugar coma so I think she needs to just up her sugar intake overall. I wrote down the drink because I want to order it: Americano with nutmeg, cocoa powder, whipped cream and chocolate drizzle. There might be caramel drizzle too but I only saw chocolate on the finished product.

They pick out the tree…this whole scene is underwhelming as far as tree picking scenes go. But then Nate promises to buy more records in case he can single handedly save their store. But let me pause here and ask-it is not an inability to pay rent that’s the problem right? I mean, they’re not all getting evicted for failure to pay rent? They’re all making their payments. The building owner must just want MORE money and can obtain that through a sale of the buildings? So, more business really won’t make a difference at this point, unless all the tenants are also committing to increasing their own rent in exchange for staying in their current location…do I just need to leave this alone? Historic buildings in jeopardy! Town needs to band together to save it! That’s all we need to know, okay?

When Nate gets to work, he notices that his dad has given him a shiny, new, clear glass desk and is putting his little drafting table into storage. This is a bit silly all around because there is plenty of room for both that incredibly impractical desk and that miniature drafting table. Maybe it was the right size but in my memory right now, it is child size. His dad has also dropped off hundreds of project files for him to review. GUESS WHAT ONE OF THE PROJECTS IS. Small world.

Later that night, Nate decides to go to the outdoor skating rink alone. He runs into Meg and Emma passing out flyers for the Christmas Concert. Emma immediately makes an excuse to leave and Nate invites Meg to skate. Again, I would have rather seen Nate and Emma together but I’m going to let that go. So anyway, Nate and Meg strap on rental skates from the 1940s and shuffle around the rink. Meg is (of course) painfully bad at ice skating. They run into REGINA, Nate’s ex, who is also presumably out for a solo skate. Regina is unusually happy to see a person she dated for four years. She gleefully talks about suing Nate’s dad and how he took her to lunch after the hearing. SO FUN CATCHING UP! Why doesn’t Nate get together with the old gang at a bar nearby? They’re all meeting for a gift exchange he wasn’t invited to. SOUNDS FUN. Meg excuses herself.

The next morning, Meg gabs with her pals about the night before. Nate shows up AGAIN and comes up with a great idea for decorating the Reilly’s Christmas tree.

That night, Reilly’s has an open house. The place is packed. Nate shows up after everyone leaves. All that’s left is fruitcake. WHY ARE THEY EVEN OFFERING THAT AS AN OPTION. Not even with a mound of whipped cream will Nate eat a piece. Then Nate offers to help her design the concert space. Then they head upstairs to the insanely decorated loft space for some reason. He asks her to play a song for him. Despite all kinds of protests earlier, she just plops down and starts to play an original song. Nate is blown away by her performance. And finally, we hear the reason why she doesn’t want to perform. Are you guys ready? Do you think you can handle it? Apparently a producer had the audacity to suggest she write more “modern” songs if she wants to make it in “the biz.” So she moved back to Denver and began teaching voice and piano lessons. So….yeah. That’s all.

She offers to give him a quick lesson because he’s probably naturally gifted at music because he’s artistic. He is capable of hitting the notes she tells him to!! So, I’d say she’s probably right. Then, another straggler arrives at the open house and the moment passes.

The next day, Nate goes to see his mom…and well, I looked this lovely woman up after the movie was over and she is FIFTEEN YEARS OLDER THAN ANDREW. There is no mention of Nate growing up with a teen mom so I vehemently object to this casting choice. She also LOOKS really young. So, yeah. She was great in this but there are plenty of lovely Hallmark actors that would be an age appropriate choice to be her child. But here we are.

So Nate is at the hospital visiting his mom. She works there, relax. He is dropping off toys for a toy drive. And guess who’s with him?? Meg. She and Lorraine immediately take to each other and she agrees to pass out flyers too. Before Meg pokes her head in, Nate and his mom have a conversation that clearly implies he’s talked to her about Meg alot. Why not? They’re basically siblings.

Later, there is a big meeting and Nate reveals he is unprepared. His dad asks about the status of “CTL.” Hmmm, could that be Christmas Tree Lane? The rest of the board laughs about how pathetic those poor people are trying to save their street.

Later, Meg is interviewed on the news! Lots of good publicity for the concert. She is very focused on emphasizing history and tradition. Nate comes by to tell her the bad news. But of course, he gets interrupted by Emma and her family coming over to go look at the trees on the street. They have a lovely stroll. But, of course, because there’s too much time left in this movie, Nate chickens out again.

In the morning, Meg decides to head to the investment firm to…well, I don’t really know what her plan was. But she’s going there. And she’s bringing flyers. Nate gets some grand idea about something too and decides to rush out and talk to Meg. They run into each other in the lobby and Meg is…understandably shocked. They talk in the conference room. He tries to explain and says he wants to fix it and she needs some space. But I found his pitch to be quite compelling.

Nate comes by later with a pretty good sketch of what he could pitch to his dad and the board. I really like it. I think it’s a great, practical idea. Then Nate decides to bring his dad to the street to see if he can stir up some sentimentality or something. BUT, he is a busy businessman and his emotions cannot be manipulated so easily. He does give the street a longing look as he drives away though.

The next day, Nate AND his mom come by the music store to help them…wrap gifts? Is that where they are now? Lorraine has good news-Christmas Tree Lane is rated one of the top 5 neighborhoods in Denver! And this is FRONT PAGE news you guys. Meg gives herself a pretty heavy pour of wine and chit chats with Lorraine, who is about 9 years older than her. Just so we’re all aware. Nate and Meg’s dad are having a great time as well.

That night, I think? They are walking down the street and Nate realizes the street is probably zoned for residential. Then Nate is like, well what if we added apartments on top and did a mixed used situation. I’d love to be this close to downtown, he says. OMG ARE CONDOS GOING TO SAVE THESE HISTORIC BUILDINGS??!! The twist to end all twists.

So, the next day, Nate is working on his mixed use concept when his dad walks in. Nate takes this opportunity to talk the idea over with him. However, his dad actually has some good points-like two weeks of lots of traffic does not undue decades of retail failure. Fair.

Later, Meg runs into Nate’s dad, presumably on Christmas Tree Lane. He has purchased a dozen pastries…for himself? Or what? He literally plops down on a bench and goes to town. Meg stops and invites herself to sit down. He offers her one of his precious few remaining pastries. She tries to talk him in to saving the street, but he says it’s too late. Then, Meg sees Nate saying goodbye to Regina so she’s just having a DAY.

Nate meets Meg at a coffee shop, apologizing for being late with no explanation. Suspicious. Meg tells Nate she bonded with his dad over the street. Is that how she remembers that conversation going? So now Meg wants to bring the spirit of Christmas to the board tomorrow. They make a a little video to show to the board. Then they head to a cute hot chocolate bar. If you know me, I love a DIY hot chocolate bar. But Nate disappointingly can’t decide between white chocolate or milk chocolate. Barf City. Then Regina calls Nate and he says it’s work…SUSPICIOUS.

The next day, despite what I can only imagine is a top notch presentation, the board votes against Nate’s pitch because it would set construction back a year and would cost too much. That makes sense. Meg is understandably devastated. She doesn’t really want to be around Nate but is grateful for his help.

Back at the music shop, Meg’s dad gives her a nice pep talk. Nate heads to his parents’ house for a pep talk from his mom. She’s like, go to that concert you silly goose!

Back on Christmas Tree Lane, Regina shows up to share what she’s been up to. She’s like, I know I was super aggressive with Nate the other day, but I just like him as a friend now. And also I want to represent your ENTIRE STREET in a wrongful eviction lawsuit against Nate’s company. Also, it was Nate’s idea to sue his own company so this is all totally above board.

It’s concert time. Lorraine tricks Edmund into going. Nate is downstairs in the music shop waiting for Meg. She is dressed VERY FANCY. I do like her dress but Nate is wearing a half zip sweater and Meg is in a vintage velvet ball gown.

Meg gives an impassioned speech and, alright, twist her arm, she’s going to perform… A NEW SONG.. that SHE WROTE. So buckle up y’all.

After the concert, Edmund has of course, had a change of heart. He agrees there is something special about Christmas tree lane, and that mixed use concept might ultimately be more profitable and he will probably be able to price out all of these old tenants when their lease is up for renewal. So WIN WIN WIN. Then Nate says that MEG is the miracle in all of this and they kiss. And it snows. And that’s that.

So, over all…this movie was fine. Maybe it’s because it’s the last one I watched from the weekend. Maybe I’m always prone to be a little snarkier about keeping unprofitable old buildings instead of building something new. I don’t know. But it’s still Hallmark and we’re all still here, aren’t we? Let’s see how we did on that Checklist, shall we? Dang, only 5/20 for this one. But it still felt VERY Hallmark and VERY Christmasy. Perhaps I should boost ratings of movies with a lot of visible hot chocolate drinking? Let me know what you thought of this one in the comments!

  1. Clumsy meet cute
  2. Christmas Concert (in place of pageant)
  3. Winter athletics
  4. Tearing down historic landmarks
  5. Small shop in danger of going out of business

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