Lights, Love and Hanukkah

Like many, I was anxiously anticipating this one. It is the only Hanukkah movie of the year and of course it stars BEN SAVAGE. However, after last weekend, I tried really hard to keep my expectations in check. So, did it meet my expectations for a Hallmark Hanukkah movie? Let’s find out.

Our lead, Christina is celebrating her first Christmas without her mom. Her friend, Janet tells her she looks just like her mom; even though she’s adopted. Her friend is very sweet to her. Christina is coping by doing tons of decorating and going all in on her mom’s recipes at her restaurant. Christina took over her mother’s Italian restaurant when she died.

While out grocery shopping, Christina tells Janet she wants some family and people to love for Christmas. I AM NOT CRYING YET. She is dreaming of having a big family because it was always just her and her mom. Then Christina tells Janet she took a DNA test to see what her heritage is. This conversation is interrupted by a phone call informing them is an emergency at the restaurant. There is a water leak and the restaurant is going to be closed for 2-3 weeks. Christina asks Eddy, the contractor to promise her that they’ll be back open in time for Christmas Eve.

Later, Christina eats dinner alone in her beautiful kitchen.

The next day, Christina reveals that she ended a “four year engagement?” With a phone call? What in the world? Anyway, she got her DNA test results back. She is 50% Jewish and 50% Italian. Her reaction is…underwhelming in my opinion.

Our lead is allegedly overwhelmed with learning about a new culture but so excited about meeting some new family. Oh I am really trying to keep it together. Then she immediately gets an email from a DNA match, Becky. This DNA match wants to meet her! Christina is nervous and afraid Becky won’t like her.

Christina meets Becky. They both agree that meeting is a big deal. Becky has been trying to meet DNA matches for a while but none of them have agreed. Well, okay. That’s a little suspicious, right? Why is she so eager to meet DNA relatives? Is she trying to commit a crime? Then Becky introduces Christina to her brother, Scott. They both own restaurants. Then BEN SAVAGE arrives. His name is David in this movie. David meets Christina. So David is a food critic. Becky and Scott try to get his opinion on new stuff they make at their restaurant. Christina recognizes his name because David actually wrote a review of her restaurant and said the food was “predictable.” So OOPS, David.

Scott has a couple of “fun” takes on latkes he wants David to try. While he’s trying the latkes, David looks over at Christina again. Scott’s restaurant is named “Lenny’s” after their dad, who died. So they have so much in common!! Then Becky invites Christina to brunch the next day so she can meet her mom and maybe fill in the blanks about how they’re related. That’s a normal thing to do with someone you just met and that might be related?

The next day, Becky and her mom talk about a collector’s dreidel. Then Becky drops the “Christina” news on her mom cold. Becky’s husband is not going to brunch because the kids have sports practices. Seems like a bad time to schedule family brunch!

Outside Christina arrives at the same time as David for brunch. David is staying with Becky’s family. Christina makes a little joke about cannolis. David promises not to tell her if they are predictable.

David says she couldn’t do better than this family for meeting online.

As everyone sits down to brunch, Christina spills about David’s review. Everyone kind of laughs about it. Silly David, not liking Christina’s food. Then David shares that he is on his way to Europe at the beginning of the year. David’s dad and Lenny were best friends. When Christina shares that she was adopted, Ruth gets really interested. She gives her a look and kind of zones out as Christina shares about the day she was born. So Ruth is definitely her mom. Scott asks Ruth what’s wrong. Then David asks. Ruth gets very quiet. Then she spills the beans. She was an exchange student in Italy and got married but got it annulled right afterwards. Then she found out she was pregnant when she got back to the United States.

Christina’s reaction is…underwhelming. But the siblings kind of freak out…as you would when you find out your mom had another child over thirty years ago! Despite how Christina is behaving, she tells everyone that this is too overwhelmed and decides to leave. She is not giving us ANYTHING here. Outside, she just sits in her car for a few minutes. David runs out to check on her and offers to drive her home. Okay, I just noticed that they have lights on their house. And then Ruth says, I don’t even know her but I already love her. SO NOBODY CRIES ABOUT THAT AT ALL.

The next day, Eddy and Janet check in on renovation progress. The friend invites Eddy to Christmas Eve dinner so OKAY. Then Christina tells Janet that she met her bio mom and half sister. Christina and her friend talk about it all. Her friend is so encouraging. I still find Christina’s reactions to everything very underwhelming. I don’t know what I’m expecting….but what I’m getting is not it. Her words say one thing…her face says…nothing.

Ruth and her kids talk too. Ruth tearfully gives them more information about her history before their dad. They wish she had told them sooner. But they are very understanding. And their reactions all seem appropriate!

Back at the restaurant, Christina doesn’t want to change anything because it all reminds her of her mom. Janet meets David. Everyone knows him now as the guy who didn’t like her lasagna. Christina is a little sassy with him. Or at least, I think she’s trying to be sassy. David says that Ruth was worried about her. Janet plays a GREAT wingman. She tells her to just “whip up” some lasagna for David. They eat at the bar 4 hours later. David tells her it’s really good. She tells him the review came out a few weeks after her mom died so I bet your feel REAL BAD NOW, DAVID. Christina learns a little about David and how he became a food critic. He says he’s going to write a book but he keeps getting distracted.

That day, Christina is having a statue placed in the courtyard to honor her mom. David says the nicest thing he did for his mom was a golf cart. But I think that’s nicer than anything I’ve given my mom.

Christina thanks David for stopping by. He encourages her to call Ruth. David is just hamming it up. And he is getting absolutely NOTHING BACK.

Later, Christina decides to call Ruth. They meet in person again. Ruth tells Christina about her father. Christina seems happy that he’s Italian because her mom is Italian. Ruth tried to contact him after she was pregnant but couldn’t because he was in the army. Ruth says she always wondered about her. Christina tells her she was happy and loved with her mom Sofia. NOBODY CRIES AT ALL. NOT ME, CERTAINLY. Then Ruth invites her to their first night of Hanukkah. Christina accepts. Well this is all VERY SWEET and I CAN’T HANDLE IT. Then ol David shows up. Christina excitedly tells him that she’s going to the first night of Hanukkah. He is excited about that as well. But neither of them move out of each other’s way. David continues saying goodbye in a bunch of different languages. He is just KILLING IT.

Christina packs up a little dessert for Hanukkah. She is greeted by everyone right at the door. Christina meets Phil and her nephew and niece Max and Molly. Aren’t they the most polite children? The brother’s fiancé is with her family in London. SURE JAN.

So then they all explain Hanukkah to her. They sing a song before they light the first candle. Phil gives David some unsolicited life advice. I am sure it’s very appreciated. Eyeroll. Oh, Phil is a real estate agent so he’s just trying to sell houses. The kids give Christina some Hanukkah information as well. Then Ruth tells Christina about her dreidel collection and explains what the marking on the dreidel mean. Then they look at a photo album. Then Christina invites them to her house for the last night of Hanukkah.

The next day, Christina wears a lovely sweater. David stops by her restaurant and says he thought of her while he was outlining his new book. He suggests she try some kind of artichoke dish but she totally freaks out. She apologizes because she just said everything in the restaurant just reminds her of her mom. Then she invites him to go with her to get a Christmas tree.

They haul the tree back to her house. He comments on her lawn ornaments. Inside, David doesn’t recognize the music playing. He is not familiar with the musician. I actually am not either. Lee Monty?

The next day, Ruth and Becky are out shopping and wonder what they should get for Christina…and for Hanukkah or Christmas. Then Ruth and Becky gossip a little about Christina and David.

Christina and David go to a very Christmas-y store. Christina wants to buy more Christmas decorations. They must be at an indoor market thing. They go to a Chinese stand to eat lunch. David says he knows how to make kugel and he usually makes them with his dad. Christina says she doesn’t know anything about her dad. They read their fortunes and decide to switch. Then David says he likes that their futures overlap. Well he is just trying SO HARD. And truly getting nothing back.

Ruth pulls David aside later to DEFINITELY NOT MEDDLE like she promised. Oh, she asks David what she should get her for a gift. And also his intentions. David suggests something related to her dad. Ruth seems excited about helping her connect with her dad.

Christina and Janet walk and shop on the same street as Becky and Ruth did earlier. Christina wants to get her new family really great presents. She struggles with wanting to get perfect gifts.

Later, David goes to Christina’s house and makes “noodle kugel.” He says that kugel is actually popular in Italy too. Then he tells her about his book. Christina gives him some good advice about his book. Then David has a surprise for her. She walks with her arm in his. He takes her to the city Menorah lighting. Is that a thing? I mean, you can’t have a Hallmark movie without some kind of public illumination event. David pushes his way to the front where the rest of the family is. Look at all those people just packed into that place, touching each other and not wearing masks. What a wonderful magic land that would be! Not for me though, obviously. I didn’t like those types of activities BEFORE COVID. Anyway, they invite her to brunch the next day. Dang Hallmark is obsessed with brunch. Also, the whole family is excited about David and Christina! ME TOO.

The next morning, the whole gang builds a snowman. Becky tells Christina how they keep their dad alive-through sports stuff. Christina says she feels the same way doing things for her mom. Then Christina says, this must be what it’s like to have a sister. AND NO ONE CRIES ABOUT THAT EITHER OKAY.

Outside, David wants to take a family picture with Ruth and all her kids. Christina tries to walk out. But they all force her to stay. Then David takes one with just Ruth and Christina. So that’s nice.

David helps Christina decorate her restaurant Christmas tree. Wow that is a big tree. And then the power goes out. It is apparently out all over the city. Then, they hold hands in the dark. David teases that she made the power go out to hold his hand. Then they have a lovely dinner with a bunch of candles. Then they chit chat and get to know each other. David says he loves to travel. And he doesn’t want a typical 9-5 job. Oh, so maybe this relationship wouldn’t work out. WE WILL JUST SEE, WON’T WE?

The next day, I think Christina makes latkes with Ruth. She says she wanted to make them together. NOBODY CRIES EVERYONE IS JUST IMPACTED BY THE ONIONS THEY’RE CHOPPING.

David tells Becky and Scott that he was able to track down Georgio, her dad. Later, David gives Ruth Georgio’s number. Ruth decides to call Georgio. Wow she doesn’t even need to take 3 days to psych herself up or anything. GEORGIO ANSWERS. He seems happy to hear from her. She finally spills the beans. This poor man.

Christina and David decorate ANOTHER Christmas tree. She puts the topper on the tree and David helps her down the ladder.

Later Janet and Christina go grocery shopping. Christina is stressing about all the meals she has to prepare. Janet gives her some SPOT ON GOOD FRIEND advice. Then Christina gives herself some good advice, thinking that Janet would say it anyway.

Later, David stops by with a gift. He gives her an Italian menorah for the following evening when she will host the last night of Hanukkah. I notice that she already has two light up menorah’s on her mantle so that’s cute. And a Happy Hanukkah banner too. Then David tries to teach her the prayer.

The next night the whole family is there and make noises when she says David got her the menorah. Then she leads them in the prayer/song and lights the candles. Phil has to take their kids to his parents for dessert. Becky says the latkes? or the donuts? Not sure, anyway they’re as good as Ruth’s! Then Christina says she found the right family.

Then it is gift opening time. She got the kids personalized jerseys and tickets to a Cavalier’s game. Christina got Scott a signed baseball from his favorite baseball player. Well dang Christina is a good gift giver. She gave David the special bottle of wine that he got from his parents. And he asks if she wants to open it with him in 21 years!! Her reaction is so cute. And then she gives Ruth a lovely dreidel.

Now it’s Becky’s turn to open gifts. They got her framed pictures of her new family. So that is just so sweet. Oh and then one of her dad in his military uniform. Then Becky asks what he was like. She lines up all her new pictures on her coffee table. Then Ruth gives her his phone number. SO NOBODY IS CRYING OR WHATEVER THIS IS DUMB. Then Christina invites them all to her restaurant for Christmas Eve.

At the restaurant, Ruth stares at a recipe from a recipe box. She and Janet have a nice heart to heart about all the things she’s feeling. And Christina says she really likes David. So she is feeling overwhelmed. Also I think someone should fire Christina’s make up artist because her eyebrows do not look even at all.

David stops by the restaurant. He invites her to do something fun that night. She says she’s too busy. She kind of barfs up all her feelings to him. She says she’s not ready. Her heart can’t keep up with all the changes right now. He is understanding. BUT I’M NOT.

Ruth and David have some kind of hot beverage on her front porch. David says he and Christina aren’t going to be seeing each other anymore. Ruth is like, you idiot. She’s just scared. PS, they’re drinking tea if you were still wondering. Ruth says that Christina might be “the one” for him. Ruth gives him really good advice! She tells him to just be her friend and give her time. I actually think that’s great.

Later, Christina and her crazy eyebrows tell Janet that David asked her out and she said no. Maybe it was for the best. NO. IT IS NOT.

Christina stares somberly at the photo of her and David on her mantle. David shows up at her house! He forgot to say something earlier. He needs her to know how much she matters to him. He says he’ll be back in six weeks and then he’s going to buy a house and write his book. He wants to be wherever she is! And then they kiss! She says this holiday is turning out really well. And that makes me tear up a little because she originally thought this would be a really sad and lonely one.

Then Christina calls Ruth and asks for some help to call her father for the first time. He is just waiting by the phone for her call. OKAY NOBODY IS CRYING. He invites her to Italy. She agrees to go. Maybe she should go with David?

Then it’s Christmas Eve dinner time. She tells David about her call with her dad! Then Christina gives a speech. And then David and Christina just KISS in front of everyone! Sheesh. And again! Geez Louise.

Well, so this was pretty cute. I normally don’t like to criticize acting because, who am I? But I felt like some of Christina’s reactions just did not line up with what was happening around her. I don’t really know what was going on but like, when Ruth says she’s her mother…I don’t know…her reactions and face just didn’t seem to line up with the words she was saying. But, overall, I liked this movie! I would love to see more Hanukkah movies thrown in the mix next year. What did you think?

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