Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses is the first movie in the Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas, premiering on Saturday, October 26. We have a lot of ground to cover, so let’s dive in.
The movie opens with our lead, Abby, decorating a Christmas tree at a…nursing home or assisted living facility? She is giving the owner tips on how to wrap ribbon around the tree and I am taking notes. The owner, Caroline, laments that Abby is wasting her talent and should quit this stable job with steady hours, health benefits and paid time off to become a small business owner. Abby is not sure that’s a good idea given that she is a single mother. But, her boss does have one interior design project in mind-her family’s giant mansion!
The Christmas Tree lighting is tonight and the streets are packed and everything is closed. Abby runs into an acquaintance who grumbles about all of it. Hong Kong doesn’t care that it’s Richmond’s tree lighting event tonight, after all! And he doesn’t believe in magic. What a grinch.
Abby finds her father and son at the tree lighting and she tells her dad about the opportunity. Now we learn that she would be restarting her career as an interior designer. She quit when she had her son, Max because the life of an interior designer is too fast paced. This seems as good a moment as any to point out that this movie NEVER explains what happened to Max’s dad. Is he a deadbeat? Is he actually dead? WE NEVER FIND OUT.
The next day, she is back at work at the senior center and one of the members happens to invite his very eligible doctor grandson to visit right when Abby is there. This senior is GETTING WORK DONE for his grandson. Abby couldn’t care less. Me? I would have forgotten all about my son and any plans we made for that evening. Later, Abby has what I view as a very age-inappropriate conversation with her five year old son. She’s like, I’ll always be there for the important moments, even if I get this job and he’s like okay, I have no idea what your job is now anyway. His only concern is that she attend the Christmas pageant. I could not count on my child to even remember that he is in a seasonal program of any kind. It is more likely that Abby will make it to the pageant than that FIVE YEAR OLD will cooperate for his portion of the performance.
Abby is greeted by…that grinch from the street when she arrives at the mansion! What? And now I’m confused because I thought the doctor was going to be the lead because he is so much better looking. Abby stumbles through her job interview because she’s just been out of the game so long. She REALLY wants to decorate that place for Christmas. Don’t we all?When they are underwhelmed by her performance, she rants about them not giving her a chance. Nick, (the grinch) is impressed by this tantrum and offers her the job.
She arrives home to her great dad and son making Christmas ornaments. Turns out, they let the children volunteer their families to contribute in all kinds of insane ways for this pageant. Max has volunteered Abby to MAKE 200 ornaments. I cannot imagine a world in which homemade ornaments are necessary for what I am assuming is a city theater production.
Abby arrives to begin her first day at the mansion. Kate (Nick’s work associate) is wearing a fabulous hunter green dress. Abby tries to find Nick because she cannot do a literal THING until she knows what he wants. It is unclear why she can’t either make the decisions herself or speak with Kate instead. She finally gets 3.5 minutes with Nick and I must say, he is more helpful that I expected. However, he essentially tells her he couldn’t care less about furniture or decorations because he is too busy being a workaholic businessman doing mergers and acquisitions and ledgers. She is devastated about not being micromanaged.
The cute doctor (Mike) pops back in and I am still very upset that this movie is not about him. Abby then finds an old ornament in the attic with Nick and he is taken back to his favorite Christmas on Nantucket. He says that as a kid he wanted to be Picasso and then my girl Lisa Frank gets a shout out.
Abby wonders if Nick likes blue couches and Nick says he is ambivalent. I have so many concerns. First of all, I am leaning against getting a blue couch. It feels too trendy. Second of all, HOW CAN YOU BE AMBIVALENT ABOUT BLUE. This guy. But honestly, Abby, just figure it out already. Make some choices. One thing is clear though, Kate hates the garland so much she is ready to fire Abby over it. Nick kindly asks her to chill. And, what do you know, but his afternoon has cleared up. He asks Kate if she’s upset and she says no, she’s fine. She begins to say, “I just think it’s funny how…” But Nick is already out the door to a Christmas antique furniture pop-up with Abby.
Abby is like, OMG this furniture pop-up has the BEST hot cocoa. Again, I’m just going to keep it moving over the use of that word instead of hot chocolate. She’s wearing a great sweater. Nick is like, hey I bet you listen to Christmas music before Halloween. And Abby, like any good Hallmark heroine is like, ya doy.
They peruse this very strange store and Abby points out a cheap looking china hutch. But then apparently she is looking at the coffee cup on display inside of it. Nick is like, I don’t think we should serve our Christmas gala dinner on used, chipped Christmas plates we bought at a flea market. Abby then gives an impassioned speech about how the cup is overflowing with Christmas memories. And Nick is like, what does that have to do with my black tie gala and you buying actual furniture for my house. Also, I thought we were going to Ethan Allen or someplace like that?
Then Nick cracks a joke about actually being the grinch and Abby is like EXCUSE ME? I had no idea you were funny. They are having a great time. But, it would have been so much better as a shopping montage with ”Rockin around the Christmas Tree” playing. Then they pass by a really small table and Abby thinks it would be perfect for him to host family Christmas dinners. And I think that would be great if it’s just going to be Nick, Abby and Max because there isn’t even room for Grandpa Dad at that table. He is so taken by her passion for used furniture. UH-OH, a helpful employee points out they’re under the mistletoe. They both die of embarrassment (along with me, covering my eyes with my shirt) and move along. But it was all worth it because now she get’s to plan the Hospital Christmas Fundraising Gala. I feel they are WAY BEHIND in planning that but what do I know?
Nick shares that he loves Carolers and Abby does too! This is great news because they are likely the only two people in the entire world. Also, they are fictional characters so there may be zero actual people that like carolers.
Back at home and I am dying over Max‘s sweater and wondering if I could squeeze into a child’s XL. Wouldn’t be the first time. Nick charms the Christmas sweaters right off Grandpa Dad and Max. Then Abby realizes she has a gift from Nick. It’s a nutcracker. Was that from the flea market? Did I miss that?
The next day, they’re making gingerbread houses. Are they at the mansion? Mike the doctor is there and I am not sure if he has a kid or if he’s just actually a creepy single dude hanging out with kids. Also, isn’t it the middle of a work day? Nick shows up and I’m not totally clear why he’s there. However, we soon learn that Nick and Kate have been workaholic businessmen their whole lives so they’ve never made a gingerbread house. Good news Nick and Kate, it’s not that fun. Have you ever made a gingerbread house?
Step 1. Spend all day making gingerbread, but it’s not to eat.Step 2: Make frosting, but make sure it has the taste and consistency of cement. We are building after all!Step 3: Go on Ebay and purchase the worst candy you can find; make sure it was made before 1960.Step 4: Put some frosting on two pieces of gingerbread and hold it together until the frosting sets (approximately 3 days). Repeat for the other two walls of the house. Step 5: Attempt to get the inedible candy to stick to the house without it slowly dropping down the sides. Step 6: Walk away and don’t even think about the house anymore, lest the attention causes the entire thing to collapse into a pile of inedible rubble.
It turns out though, that now Nick has nothing but time and can afford a walk down to the boathouse for more Christmas decorations. Nick is like, you know, when you’re an adult and don’t get snow days, snow is actually super annoying. And Abby is like, no way man! Get you a four wheel drive and just live it up. And I tend to agree with Nick, unless you live in the 10% of the country where they actually plow the roads. Abby works in a casual story about the fact that her mom is dead. And it hasn’t snowed on Christmas Eve since. Nick is like, I’m not sure that’s right. And Abby is like, no it definitely is. Nick brings up Nantucket again and is surprised Abby remembers. Abby’s like, dude you literally just told me this story yesterday and it seems to be the only memory, Christmas or otherwise, that you have.
Back at pageant practice, Abby says that Nick is not her type and decided to take doctor Mike up on his offer. Finally. Except, I know it’s not meant to be because he’s not on any of the posters.
Abby is back at the mansion but the painters are stuck in Norfolk and she’s got to get the garland hung up. But she promised Max she’d be at pageant practice and frankly, I’m wondering why. It doesn’t seem like she’ll be done in time. Nick shows up and the suit jacket comes off…to help put up the rest of the decorations or garland or whatever. They get done in the nick (hey-o) of time, only for Abby to realize her car is buried under a pile of snow. She suddenly realizes that snow can make things difficult. Nick is like, I know how I said snow is super annoying and all but I parked in my garage and actually do have four wheel drive so why don’t I just take you. Abby is like, why can’t I park in the garage?
Abby gets dropped off and asks, wait, you don’t want to stay to watch practice? And Nick is like, hard pass. Not even if my own child was participating.
Abby goes to work in the outfit she plans to wear for her date and her British event planning partner is NOT having it. Luckily her assistant brought back up outfits and, is that in her job description? And what is Abby’s commute like? Then, British event planner casually drops to Nick that Abby is going on a date. And then this movie turns briefly into a horror movie.
Nick drags Kate to a “celebratory dinner“ that is really just an opportunity to stalk his employee. She is understandably surprised to see him there and Mike, the human golden retriever, invites them to sit down. Abby wonders if this is the romantic comedy she signed on for or if it is actually a horror movie. Nick and Mike take turns talking about how great Abby is and Kate turns into actual chopped liver.
Abby has to work on Saturday so she brings Max. He is kind of in everyone’s business and Kate is not pleased. She just wants to work, work, work. Caroline arrives and gives Kate some busy work so Nick and Abby can interview Christmas bands. She takes Max on a special Christmas adventure that we never see and is never mentioned again so I have no idea what they did. That is the last time they all see Max alive. Wait, no that’s not this movie. Abby and Nick listen to one terrible band. And then, the next band wisely asks what they’d like to hear. They dance to I’ll be Home for Christmas and I decide that I’m finally rooting for them. Max invites Nick to see Santa, but he has a SUPER IMPORTANT call at 6 pm. He blows it off instead of rescheduling. Unfortunately, the callers are SO offended, they are about to unwind this whole merger. Nick vows to never let himself get distracted again. He buys a fidget spinner. He also tells Abby he’s got to buckle down, otherwise it’s layoffs right before Christmas. But maybe he could take his massive decorating budget and put it into salaries or whatever?
Kate ends up saving the day by buying box seats to the Capitals and then inviting those guys to the Gala. Kate’s only hobbies are doing business. She loves closing high stakes corporate mergers. Abby misinterprets Kate’s exuberance through the window.
Abby ends up making it to the pageant without any trouble. And somehow this 5 year old has a major speaking role and remembers all his lines. She tells her dad that there’s no spark with Mike. He checks her pulse to see if she’s dead but then asks, so you’re done with him? Abby is like, yeah why? And her Dad is like, well, so you wouldn’t mind if I called him?
The next morning, Caroline is like hey! It’s Abby’s last day. Nick is like, who cares? I have to focus on business things, Mom. I can’t be distracted. Caroline is like, that’s super crazy Nick.
Abby walks Nick through the whole house and shows him that she’s put together a little corner of memorabilia of his Christmas in Nantucket. Nick is like, you remembered? And Abby was like, again, not much time has passed since you told me that story. Kate pops in and is like, don’t forget! We have drinks with the Phelps. And Nick is like, it’s 10 AM. But then Kate tells Abby the house is beautiful.
At the Gala, everyone is dead over the decor and Abby hands out all her business cards. How many regular people are hiring interior designers? Nick tries to ask Abby to dance but is pulled away. Mike realizes that he and Abby are not meant to be but offers to help make him jealous and Abby laughs and Nick sees. But we don’t have time for too much drama because there’s only 10 minutes left. Kate looks for Nick because she has a….proposal for him. The British guy misunderstands and tells Abby he wants to plan the wedding. Abby leaves and I feel like this all should have happened 20 minutes earlier. Kate’s proposal is that she wants to be CFO and I realize that THIS IS THE HALLMARK MOVIE WE NEED. She’s been hustling this ENTIRE MOVIE and getting work done and advocating for herself. Nick is like, yeah girl! Get it. You deserve this. And then, while Kate is just grinding away focusing on her dreams, Mike shows up and asks her to dance. And I feel cheated because I would have rather watched that movie.
Nick asks were Abby is and her dad says she’s at home. He warns Nick that he’ll need a grand gesture because Abby totally misunderstood that the word “proposal” has more than one meaning and I feel that this isn’t Nick’s problem.
Nick has somehow strung up a bunch of lights around the gazebo that of course Abby has in her backyard and has coerced the Gala band to join him. Nick says that his only wish is to spend Christmas with Abby and I suddenly get the title of this movie. And then IT STARTS SNOWING ON CHRISTMAS EVE and I assume their lives go perfectly after.
Let’s see how this movie rates against our Checklist:
2. Workaholic that’s too busy for Christmas
4. Single parent
7. A Christmas pageant
9. Christmas Gala
10. Christmas Tree Lighting
18. Someone working a nondescript corporate job instead of chasing their dreams