I was really looking forward to this movie. And well, it did not disappoint. I am not going to have many notes. However, I found myself scratching my head numerous times at the notion of basing an entire festival around cranberries. Do we really want a week of only cranberry desserts? Are we really putting cranberry syrup in our coffee? Is that something we should be getting excited about? I’m not sure it’s enough to drive an entire Christmas festival with its own Tree Lighting and Christmas Dance. So, let’s get after it.
My husband planned to watch at least part of this movie. But, as the opening credits began, he announced that he already hated this movie and left the room.
Nikki Deloach is rocking bangs and I begin to wonder if bangs are back in? My sister texts me an old picture of me in bangs to remind me that, no, bangs are not back for me. But they sure work for Nikki, so you do you girlfriend. Her character, Dawn, is on an…Oprah (?) maybe Martha Stewart type show with a woman named Pam. They fight over who deserves to be crowned “Queen of Christmas.” Nobody wins. She is talking about Christmas crafting, her company Cranberry Lane, and her husband Gabe. Gabe isn’t there because he’s so busy at the farm and also, he doesn’t want to.
He IS watching it on TV though! His dad catches him and he pretends like he wasn’t watching. We get a little preview of their marriage trouble. Gabe really likes farming cranberries and Dawn likes capitalizing on the cutesy name to build a Home and Lifestyle brand. They decided to take time apart these past few months to see what they both want.
After the show, Dawn arrives at her sister’s house. We get a little background on the sister-she’s trying to date but keeps cancelling. I missed the backstory here so I don’t know if she’s divorced or widowed. Either way, there is zero mention of this former husband/father to her child. Lauren does not share her sister’s homemaking gene though, because apparently her cookies taste terrible. Lauren is rocking a casual braid and I get mad because I never look that cute in a braid. Alice gets a candy cane in exchange for making a cute Christmas card display which bums everyone out.
Dawn decides to sneak home to grab more clothes. Well, unfortunately for her, Gabe is home. The house is TOTALLY decorated for Christmas. If I was gone for 3 months, I can assure you, there would likely be very few Christmas decorations up upon my return. But Gabe did forget ONE CRUCIAL decoration: mistletoe. But that (alone apparently) seems to be her job.
Dawn heads to the Cranberry Festival to start setting up. She runs into her in-laws and they all seem very happy to see each other. So that’s nice. They have a booth for baked goods. Dawn’s grandma also sells jewelry. So we just have a family of little hustlers.
Then, Dawn runs into Gabe again. They are very surprised to see each other. He thought she would be too busy to plan the festival and she thought HE would be too busy. So, I want to make sure I understand. They decided to take a 3 month separation, knowing that separation would end at the beginning of the festival, and did not decide beforehand who would be responsible for what. Oh wait, I get it. THESE TWO HAVE COMMUNICATION ISSUES.
Alright so they will just do everything together. That will be fine, right? Then Dawn helps a volunteer get set up with the Christmas ornaments. Because you KNOW there’s gonna be a TREE LIGHTING y’all. Are we 6/6 on these movies having Christmas Tree Lightings? I think yes, we are. But PROBLEM. All the ornaments are inexplicably broken, which is a huge bummer because the town has been collecting them for years.
Then Pamela calls. She wonders if she might feature the Cranberry Festival on her show? She has time. And she really wants to feature Mr. and Mrs. Cranberry Lane working together, being happily married. So that should be no problem. Then we get perhaps the worst news of all. There will be NO frozen hot chocolate booth this year!!! What a disaster. Then she talks to Gabe about the possibility of the festival getting featured on Pam’s show. They decide that this is probably not the right time to do the show.
Then Gabe talks to his parents. They ask him how Dawn took…the news. What news? He tells them they said no to Pam’s show. They essentially call him an idiot. They convince him to allow Pam to do the show.
Later, Gabe shows up at Lauren’s to talk to Dawn. Dawn invites him in for hot chocolate. So that’s nice. Gabe surprises Dawn by saying they SHOULD do the show. It would be so nice for the town.
The next morning, Dawn is up early and we learn that she has stress decorated and baked. Lauren shares that she’s been trying to get their grandma to move in with her and her daughter. The grandma does not want to. Lauren thinks the grandma needs to be around people. She asks Dawn to talk their grandma into it.
Then Dawn heads to her own house to meet the camera crew. She notices a for sale sign next door. Well, that is interesting, isn’t it? The camera crew is ready to go and they want to start at the farm. They really want to focus on Gabe and Dawn together. As they wander through the farm Dawn says some nice things about Gabe. Gabe gives Dawn a backhanded compliment when he says she is the dreamer and he is the “Doer.” Kind of harsh, Tai!
We also get some background on their lives. They’ve known each other basically their entire lives. They got married ten years ago but were too busy to buy wedding rings? I guess Dawn wanted to design her own so they just didn’t get around to it? I don’t know about all that. Unless she’s just not a jewelry person.
Then they get roped in to doing a big family tree decorating event that night for the cameras. That sounds fun. Then we learn Dawn’s grandma has her own Instagram. I DOUBT IT.
Their family has a seemingly cute idea for their annual tree decorating evening. They make their own ornaments and use their old family ones too. Eh I am going to guess they are all pretty crafty so the ornaments probably look fine. But let me just say, that if this were a tradition in my family, our tree would be filled with ornaments that look like a 2nd grade art project. Dawn and her niece, Alice, are working their way through an advent calendar of Christmas activities. Tonight is sleepover night, which means Dawn gets to sleep on those hardwood floors right next to the tree. I wouldn’t even do that for my own children, let alone a niece or nephew.
As Gabe leaves, he chickens out telling Dawn the big important news.
The next morning, there is a flurry of activity at the festival. Lauren is still hounding Dawn to convince their grandma to move in with her. Gabe got the frozen hot chocolate booth back so Christmas is saved. And THEN PAMELA SHOWS UP. Hasn’t Dawn like, checked her phone at all today? So anyway, Pam just wanted to come to the festival and film some of her own stuff there because she doesn’t have any Christmas programming planned at all. So Pamela wants to film some of her show at their tree lighting. Dawn and Gabe look super uncomfortable but then Gabe decides to ask Pam to stay and do her show. OH and Pam showed up there with no hotel arrangements. So, Gabe offers to let Pam stay with THEM! SO not awkward.
In the morning, Dawn is up and ready to go and has made Pamela a cappuccino. SO FANCY. But she put…cranberry syrup in it. YUCK. Oh I would be so bummed that she ruined a perfectly good cappuccino. Remember, its peppermint mocha or its nothing. Then Pam wants to go see where the syrup is made.
Gabe is already out there making all kinds of disgusting cranberry things that no one would want-syrup, extracts, juice…okay well cranberry juice is fine I guess. But extract? What are you making with cranberry extract? Pam asks about their five and ten year plan and they have no plans. They just see what happens. Well guys, MAYBE THAT IS WHY YOUR MARRIAGE IS IN TROUBLE. But, they do say, they just want to end up sitting on rocking chairs together on their porch.
After Pam swipes some jelly, they decide to head to the festival. Grandma’s jewelry is just flying off the shelves. Gabe and his parents freak out a little about Pamela being there. Gabe still hasn’t found the “right time” to tell Dawn his NEWS.
Now it’s time for the tree lighting. Dawn’s big idea for this, in light of the broken ornaments, is to have all the festival attendees quickly make some ornaments to hang on the tree. They all audibly grown and head off to do this chore. But they’re making cran-lemonade out of broken ornaments as the old saying goes.
Finally, Gabe decides this is the appropriate place to tell Dawn that he put an offer on the property next door. Oh, and he doesn’t want to be part of the Cranberry Lane side of the business either. Dawn is very shocked. And they don’t really talk about it anymore.
Later, Gabe has another heart to heart with his dad. His dad is like, you honestly just need to work on your communication skills in general. Inside their house, Gabe and Dawn hug. I am surprised by this because they had been so awkward before. But now it seems like they’re just getting along again. Pam the third wheel comes down and interrupts their little moment. She’s decided she would like to stay for the whole festival. Gabe and Dawn are both very uncomfortable. Pam is like, oh yeah that is super inappropriate of me to invite myself to stay at your house for several more days. But then they are like, no… no….it’s fine. We definitely want you to stay. Pam is like, don’t have to tell me twice! I’ll go put all my stuff back in the drawers in your guest room.
Then Lauren drops Alice off to bake cookies. Alice does not care about any of Dawn’s baking tips. Then we learn the cookies at the festival’s cookie competition have to be cranberry inspired. Why don’t we just have a raisin festival for heaven’s shake. Only cranberry cookies? How disappointing.
Pamela doesn’t seem to mind because she is just pounding cookies at the festival. Gabe’s mom is so pleased. Gabe approaches Dawn to talk again. At the festival! So appropriate.
They have a nice, very mature conservation about their issues. This is surprising considering that their strategy thus far has been to just avoid difficult conversations. He apologizes for making a huge financial/business decision without her input. She says she wants to be part of his dreams.
Now it’s time for the winner of the sad cookie contest. Gabe’s mom wins with the only cranberry cookie flavor I’ve ever actually heard of. Her recipe will be featured on Pamela’s website! But what if Mary uses a recipe from Pinterest like everyone else on Earth? Mary has no chill when it comes to Pamela.
Later, Dawn makes cookie butter out of all the leftover cookie competition cookies. And well, that is A REALLY GREAT IDEA. I am definitely going to do that the next time I have too many cookies left over and don’t want to be forced to eat them before they go bad. Dawn’s grandma gives Dawn some really good advice about marriage. It is truly shocking though, that ten years in, along with running a business together, Dawn still expects things to be easy? Anyway, this conversation seems to make Dawn feel a lot better so that’s all that matters. And Dawn decides she doesn’t want to give up.
Dawn heads outside and finds Gabe. They end up chatting and strategizing about the potential expansion of their farm. it is a very lovely moment. He says he likes getting to be the dreamer in the relationship. He didn’t think they both could do that. That is a little sad.
They decide to skip the festival that day and watching Christmas movies. So that is nice. Gabe tears up at the end.
Pamela returns from the festival and is just having the time of her life. She pulls Dawn aside to tell her that she wants to create a new show with Dawn and Gabe on her network about Cranberry Lane. At this point, my dad pops in to the living room and gives some spot on marriage advice to Gabe and Dawn. They ignore it for now.
At the festival, people continue to go crazy for Dawn’s grandma’s jewelry. Dawn, of course, hasn’t told Gabe about the television program. Pam comes by and wonders why Dawn isn’t excited about the show. Dawn shares she really wants to prioritize her marriage. Pam is very understanding and shares that her career ended one of her relationships early on.
Then they have a little fun at the festival with all the little janky carnival games. Dawn is wearing a cute little conservative dress. Gabe and Dawn say they miss each other and take a little photo together.
Later, Gabe is outside whittling. I guess he is getting ready for smores. Again, I don’t think smores are a Christmas thing but I guess that’s my own personal problem.
Gabe tells Dawn that their offer was accepted. Dawn is genuinely very excited about it. They both say they want to do everything together. Then they kiss! But they’re married so it’s okay.
Okay so is this the same day? It’s the day of the Festival Dance I think. Pam pulls Dawn aside to ask if she’s made any decisions about the show. Pam says she needs an answer by tomorrow. She shares more about her regrets in life. After Dawn leaves, she makes a phone call.
Dawn comes home to find two rockers on their back porch. So that’s cute. Then they get all dressed up for the dance. Gabe says a lot of really nice things to Dawn and they head to the dance.
At the dance, Dawn tells Lauren she is going to turn down the show without talking to Gabe about it at all. She knows he would make her do it and then they would be in the same situation or worse! And she knows she’ll regret missing out on all the time with her family. Then Pam blabs to Gabe’s mom about the show idea. Mary immediately runs to Gabe and is like, why did you turn down the show! OOOH Boy. DRAMA.
So then Gabe pulls Dawn aside and is like so, what’s up GF?!! So Gabe of course doesn’t want her to give anything up for him. And he feels like maybe they are just growing apart. And Dawn is like, oh here we go again with this! And Pam creeps in the background and overhears. SO AWKWARD.
The next morning, Pam and Dawn are talking at Cranberry Lane HQ. Dawn is wearing a great green dress. Dawn tells Pam she is going to turn down the show. Pam tells Dawn she’s inspired her to spend Christmas with her family and hopefully reconnect with her long lost love!!
Dawn goes over to Lauren’s and finds her grandma. Grandma decided to move in with Lauren after all. Then she abruptly leaves to deliver a Christmas present. Dawn tells Lauren she doesn’t want to give up on Gabe.
Now it’s time for Grandma to give Gabe some good advice. She is just working overtime this movie!
So now it’s like Christmas Eve dinner maybe? Gabe’s parents arrive. And then Gabe arrives and he and Dawn go outside and talk. And then my husband starts yelling up from the laundry room asking me whether certain items can go in the dryer and at what temperature and I nearly throw my coffee mug at him to be quiet until the movie is over.
They have a really nice convo that definitely doesn’t make me tear up. Surprise, surprise, he has a new ring for her that he designed and her grandma made. It is a really pretty cranberry ring. He re-proposes to her and again, nobody tears up about any of this so it’s fine. Alice ruins the moment by telling them it’s time to eat.
Is this whole meal cranberry themed? How much cranberry can a person eat for heaven’s sake.
So this movie is still not over. The next morning, Dawn comes downstairs and can’t find Gabe. He’s sitting on their porch rockers freezing his buns off with that light little blanket. He has some news. INSTEAD OF TALKING TO DAWN FIRST, he pitched a different show idea to Pam. It would be about them expanding the farm on the new property. Luckily Dawn is thrilled. Then she sees he hung the mistletoe she made outside above the rockers and thus far it has not been damaged. They kiss and nobody learns any lessons about communicating any differently.
Okay so I loved this one. It will probably end up being one of my favorites of the season. Nikki Deloach is one of my faves and I loved Benjamin Ayres in Blue Ridge Mountain Christmas. All the characters were very fun and I liked the idea of Hallmark showing two people falling in love again after going through a difficult time. So, this is definitely worth a watch! Let’s see how it did on the checklist. Since we didn’t have two “new to each other” leads, we missed out on a lot of common tropes! Maybe that’s why it was so good. 4/20.
- Cranberry Festival
- Christmas Tree Lighting
- Christmas Baking
- A sassy and wise friend (Grandma!)