Alright so “The Christmas Promise” is our second Hallmark Movies and Mysteries movie this season. This channel seems intent on tugging at our heart strings this season so we’ll see. Also, this title is so generic and honestly, doesn’t make sense as the title of this movie. And, have we really never had a movie with this title before? I feel like this is the title to a hundred other Hallmark movies. So, just…DO BETTER? Anyway, I have tried my best to to emotionally prepare for this one. And I am not sure I did enough. So, should we dive right in?
Our lead, Nicole, talks to a little girl about the stuffed bear that she is DYING for. She assures a young customer that Santa is real and that she has a regular dialogue with him. I really hope that doesn’t mess that child up later. Nicole and her fiance, Henry own this toy shop together. Isn’t that putting the cart in front of the horse a little bit? She already owns a toy shop but I think she wants to sell her knitting as a side hustle. My kids were shrieking so I missed that part.
Then we meet Henry. They are fiances in the very worst way. Like, “hello future wife!” “Hello future husband!” Ugh. Yuck. Henry is like the best sport in the entire world regarding ugly Christmas sweater wearing. He’s like wait these are actually cute sweaters. And we are like, well no, not really. I mean obviously I would wear it.
They pull up to their new house in their beautiful vintage red truck. They bought a big fixer upper and Henry seems to be doing most of the repairs himself. On their front porch, he pulls some mistletoe out of his jacket pocket and hangs it above the steps. Cute.
That night they have their big ugly sweater party. The competition for worst/best sweater is STEEP. Again, I ask-Hallmark, I need a LIST OF WARDROBE LINKS. I think Susan’s 3D onsesie probably takes the cake. Yes she won. I was actually going to be mad if she didn’t. Later, Susan announces they are out of ice. She and her husband do a weird bit about breaking off icicles off their house to scrape together enough. And then Henry is like, oh I’ll go! And Susan and Tom just LET HIM. A guest in their home. Why didn’t Tom go? They are the hosts after all. So the party is long over and Henry isn’t back. No one is bothered by this except Nicole apparently. Like wouldn’t she have called him a hundred times? Then she gets a phone call. Oh no.
The movie flashes to one year later. Tom, the guy who SHOULD HAVE GOT HIS OWN GD ICE, arrives and offers to help them sell the house. He wants her to finish the renovation before they sell it though. He also has a buyer lined up for the toy store. Tom, I’m not sure you’ve done enough considering this is ALL YOUR FAULT.
Nicole’s toy store is decorated so whimsically beautiful for Christmas. Her…brother? Teddy, is wearing like an old timey woodworkers apron. She feels overwhelmed about the house renovations. Teddy offers to reach out to a construction minded friend to see if he can help. Susan pops in and invites her to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life.” She declines because she has to organize her stock room. Susan tells her that Gary, the single orthodontist, is coming even! It’s not enough to sway her. She also invites her to this year’s ugly sweater party. I feel that is a bold movie, CONSIDERING. She promises that Tom is in charge of all future ice purchases. Guys, Susan doesn’t play. Christmas is SERIOUS business.
Nicole arrives to her dad’s house…wait she calls him Pops and mentions her parents. Don’t tell me Patrick Duffy is her grandpa? He eats a lot of junk and she tries to get him to eat healthier. He reminisces about all the sports ball games they went to last year and tells Nicole that he really misses Henry. Okay we really are saying that Patrick Duffy is her grandpa? She asks how he got over her grandma dying. And he says, well Nicole, a 50 year marriage is a lot different than just being engaged to someone. Then he tells her he wrote letters to her grandma after she died. Nicole asks to take some to read. Pops is like, well Nicole, that’s an invasion of my privacy so no. She takes them anyway.
Nicole calls one of her pals, Alan, from last year’s Christmas party. Apparently her BEST friend. She heads over to his house. They chat a little about Henry’s death. In the meantime, I’ve gone through the trouble of looking up both Patrick and Torrey’s ages and guess what? Him playing her grandpa IS A STRETCH. A REAL STRETCH. He is 72 and she is 37. So you tell me.
Nicole and Alan crack open one of her grandpa’s letters. Alan is like, I don’t really want to read the private letter your very young grandpa wrote to your dead grandma. They both agree it’s a beautiful letter. Alan says what we’re all thinking at this point-we need cookies!
Nicole ignores a text from her sister about sending over a casserole and sends Henry’s old number a text message. SOMEONE PICKS UP the phone.
A customer tells Nicole she hopes she’s not selling the store but Nicole is like no I definitely am. She also seems to suggest that Nicole should sell some of her knit wares at this woman’s boutique. We aren’t doing this as a storyline are we? That Nicole could make enough money to support herself by selling handmade knit items?
Later, Nicole stares at her house and observes her future next door neighbor directing some poor man in decorating her lawn and putting up lights. Oh her scraggly little dog has lights attached to his little sweater and runs off.
Another guy shows up and introduces himself as the construction friend that Teddy knows. Joe.
Later Joe walks right in to the toy store and gives her an estimate for the lumber needed. She basically tells him she couldn’t care less about any of the choices since she’s just fixing it up to sell. As she looks for her check book, Joe helps himself to a pirate hate and sword. Boys will be boys, am I right? Nicole’s sister Gail actually looks like her sister. Gail tries to start a really personal conversation in front of poor Joe. Joe just stands there like an idiot.
That night, Nicole decides to show up to the party. Gail notices her as they walk up to the door and grabs her hand and promises to take care of her during the party. Oh that nice sister moment didn’t make me tear up whatsoever. Alan, Nicole’s friend wins second place in the ugly sweater competition. Susan wins FIRST PLACE again. Guys, Susan’s outfits ARE THE BEST. It’s like no one else is even trying. Joe is at the party too. He has a fabulous sweater as well. Alan has demanded a recount on the votes of the best outfit. I love that. Then the power goes out!
Nicole and Joe find themselves outside and get to know each other better. Joe asks to walk home together. As they get to Nicole’s house, he suggests decorating “that tree.” I missed what “that tree” was. Nicole can’t sleep so she sends Henry phone twin another text. These are pretty intense texts for a stranger to receive. Then she whips out her knitting needles and her phone buzzes! She freaks out.
Best friend Alan is shaming children into buying books at his work. Nicole comes rushing in to show Alan the text response. The recipient says they’ve also gone through a loss and understands what she’s going through. Alan thinks it’s a sign from Henry.
Nicole and Joe arrive at a bakery and Joe doesn’t know what to order. Are they there together or did they just run into each other? He makes several attempts to order something but Nicole says all his choices are wrong. She says he must eat a peppermint bark cupcake…for breakfast. But it sounds like it was definitely the right choice and he agrees. He thought there had been life before the cupcake but now he’s not sure.
Nicole heads back to her “grandpa’s” house. I think she asks if he went to therapy in a round about way. No, she’s referring to the texting with the stranger business.
Later, Joe returns Nicole’s glove to the toy store. She’s organizing some toys that she plans to donate to the children’s hospital. Also can we take a moment of silence for Nicole’s sweater? Why didn’t she wear THAT one to the ugly sweater party? Joe puts on another hat and gets head lice for a second time. He is cracking Nicole up though which is sweet. Joe announces that he is single handedly putting in her new floors that day. GOOD LUCK JOE. Did she just look at a card from a child’s fortune telling kit? With like children’s tarot cards? I have…thoughts on that.
Later, Nicole texts more with Henry’s phone number recipient. That person’s brother died. Then Joe arrives to Nicole’s apartment with some kind of boxed food item and she invites him in. OH NO. HE DROPS A BOX OF PEPPERMINT BARK CUPCAKES. Devastating. Instead, she offers him a bunch of old casseroles her sister brought. I missed the bit where she wanted to rearrange her living room furniture. Then Joe shares a very strange personal anecdote. Without joking, he says he cries at the old “let’s all go to the lobby” song. I thought it was a bit but he says he’s serious. So that’s weird. Maybe we will get some backstory on that. Update: WE DON’T.
Next, more emotional texting with strangers. Are we going to have to hear that annoying buzz the whole time? Nicole shows up to the house and notices that he is about to throw away the old mistletoe that’s been hanging on the front of the house since last year. She grabs it from him and tries to just get out of there. She decides to walk home and he offers to walk her again. That neighborhood is decorated to the MAX for Christmas. As they walk, they rate the lawn decorations. Oh and Nicole has a favorite reindeer. As all sane adults do…
They find their way to a diner and Nicole says she’s NEVER HAD BREAKFAST FOR DINNER. OMG What. What a devastating life Nicole has led up until now. Then Joe says he has had dinner for breakfast, which to be fair, is more strange. Joe mentions doing these silly things with his brother. So…maybe he’s Henry’s phone number recipient? I mean duh. Then Joe asks if he can make her dinner sometime. She dodges the question. Then the waitress asks if Nicole can knit her a sweater like the one she made for her daughter’s stuffed pelican. Nicole is like, sure! That will be $300. And the waitress is like, everyone from my book club would like to be hundreds of dollars for hand knitted sweaters from you six months from now when you complete them. Can you just drop everything and do that? Joe talks to her about following her dream but making a living KNITTING CLOTHING FEELS LIKE A STRETCH.
Later, Nicole heads to some kind of outdoor Christmas event and feels lonely.
Nicole heads to her grandpa’s house and discovers that he’s gone to a dance studio. She peeks into the dance studio and sees him happily dancing with his neighbor I think.
Later, Nicole’s friend group does a white elephant gift exchange. There are some good items in the mix. Is Nicole wearing another ugly sweater? The spread for this party. YOU GUYS. Joe is part of the gang now? All of a sudden? Nicole gets a beautiful wood sign that Joe HANDMADE the night before. Does Hallmark not realize how long it takes to make things by hand? Later Joe notices that her sweater is homemade. She’s like, it’s nothing special, just took me 6 months to make. I worked well into the night, day after day until my knuckles swelled and I lost feeling in my finger tips. No big deal.
Nicole heads out of the party and Joe offers her a ride home. He has a newer red truck…but not that new. Then Joe serenades Nicole with “Old King Wenceslas.”
Later, Nicole texts with her Henry phone number pal. Then, she heads out to the woods and decorates a tree that is literally all alone in the middle of a field. I missed the significance of this. I feel like this is supposed to be a big part of the movie given that it’s in the cover art but I TOTALLY MISSED IT.
Afterwards, Gail, Susan and Nicole have a girls day. They girls say they think Joe’s been good for her. Nicole pushes back. Oh no. They start splashing face mask liquid at each other. They’re going to make a big mess. I hate it. I hate messes. Oh her living room. No. What are they even splashing on each other? And all over the food? No!! Is it going to seem so fun when you’re all scrubbing the carpet? Hungry with nothing to eat? When that neon color stays on those beautiful white robes? I didn’t think so.
Later, the girls head to a Christmas market. Joe just shows up. How does he just show up everywhere she is? I am not digging Nicole’s t-shirt sweater situation. Joe says he’ll be done by Christmas. Then Joe says he may be taking another job in another town. Susan thinks Nicole’s shelves are in desperate need of repair so he should do that first.
Then Nicole notices her “GRANDPA” on a DATE with a woman that could easily play her own mother. Nicole wanders to the Christmas tree section of the market to pick out a tree. She picks a little Charlie Brown tree and decorates it at home, alone. That night she texts her Henry phone pal. This person wants to meet!
At the bakery, Nicole runs into Helen, the neighbor. She is bringing “grandpa” lunch. Helen tells Nicole she will be able to take care of him. So that’s really sweet. But also, they’re in their early seventies so CAN WE ALL CHILL? Later, she asks how you move on from the love of your life. He gives some very wise advice. Then he dives into her Christmas present. She tells him to wait until Christmas and he says “at my age?” YOU’RE ONLY 72 PATRICK DUFFY! DON’T GIVE UP! Anyway, it’s a sweater. He gives her her grandma’s pin and she’s very moved.
Later, Gail brings over more mac and cheese. Nicole tells Gail she’s meeting her texting friend. As she’s heading out, she runs into Joe, who was dropping by to see those shelves. Then he KISSES HER. And then they have a hilarious back and forth that I just cannot do justice recapping here. Then SHE KISSES HIM. He maybe follows her to the restaurant? Sees her there….and then she gets a text that her pal can’t meet her. So is it him? Why was he going to her house if he literally had to go meet his texting pal right then too? Also, have they never communicated by phone at this point? Wouldn’t they have inadvertently figured this out when they exchanged numbers for the home renovations work?
Joe and Teddy have a heart to heart later. Teddy suggests that he tell Nicole who he is. So is anyone surprised at this point? He said he realized they had been texting each other for the first time last night. And again, why was he going to her house if he was on his way to meet her? Anyway, he thinks she will think he knew all along. He asks Teddy to give her a letter. Nicole is busy filling Alan in when Teddy walks in. He hands Nicole Joe’s letter which basically says, I’m too busy to do your shelves, so bye.
So, Nicole goes to her house to catch him. Joe is all business and is hurrying to leave. Nicole finally asks to see the house. She goes upstairs first or at least part way. Bold choice. I’d want to see the kitchen, even if I planned to sell. She looks around for like one minute and Joe is like, okay bye. Then Nicole GOES BIG. She tells Joe she’d like to have him in her life! And he’s like okay cool. I’m still leaving though. Uh oh. He left his phone there. She calls Teddy to try and work out a hand off for the phone. She decides to text Henry pal. So wait, you’re telling me that she and Joe have NEVER exchanged numbers? How? Anyway, she realizes now who he is since his phone immediately buzzes. Wait he gets a text on a different phone and she says she knows it was him. WHAT IS HAPPENING.
Later, Nicole sells the toy shop to her brother. Also, living for Nicole’s sweater. Oh no. Nicole is going to start an online store for her knitting. That just can’t be practical. Like at all. The cost of yarn? The time it must take her to make one item? And she says a shop owner told her her designs sold out in ten days. Like what? So then Teddy and Nicole talk about Joe. She’s like so that was so weird, right? And Teddy is like yeah it is super weird. It actually doesn’t make any sense. But like you should go after him right? And tell him that it was a weird move, but you still want to date him.
Okay so somehow, they meet at that random tree in the middle of the field. But she says she doesn’t know if she can trust him and then wanders off. When is this movie going to end? Nicole arrives at Susan’s house. Susan is hosting ANOTHER CHRISTMAS EVENT. Does Susan do anything else? Like how does she have so many parties? Anyway, she directs Nicole outside for a frigid scavenger hunt. Susan is SO FUN. Also what is Susan’s backyard? It’s like she’s running a mini cut-your-own Christmas tree farm. She debriefs with Alan as they slowly freeze to death due to inadequate winter clothing. Once again, I must state that Hallmark does not seem to understand what a scavenger hunt is. The wrapped present she was supposed to find (“hidden” IN PLAIN SIGHT) is a beautifully carved little mini version of her house.
She storms over to Joe’s house. He’s not there. She wanders the frigid streets with no hat or gloves. She wanders to her house. The exterior lights turn on as she approaches! Joe is there getting all the lighting finished. After ALL THAT, Nicole tells Joe she decided not to sell the house. She gives her little speech. As they’re about to kiss, Joe digs out some mistletoe. And then they DO KISS. TWICE!
So, I actually liked this one a lot. I expected it to be nonstop sad because of Nicole’s fiancé but it really wasn’t. Also, the AUDACITY to cast Patrick Duffy as her grandpa when he could have easily played her dad. There was no reason to make him her grandpa. But the friend group was great, except for Susan and Tom significantly contributing to Henry’s death. The siblings were great. All and all, a fun movie to watch! Tell me what you thought!