Eight Gifts of Hanukkah

Well, Hallmark made its annual Hanukkah movie and it aired this weekend. I was actually disappointed they only did one this year because I think they’ve done at least two in past years. I don’t know if they ever get it right guys. I do like learning about Hanukkah but I have to just take these guys at their word. I know Hanukkah was kind of early this year, but I do also think this movie should have been mixed in with the Thanksgiving movies because I think it ended up airing on the very last night. Again, I don’t know! I am not going to be able to comment on the authenticity of this movie, so I just have to take it all at face value. Let’s dive in.

The movie begins with our leading lady, Sarah, going on about 1000 coffee dates with a bunch of duds. ONLINE DATING AMIRITE? Finally, she sits down with a very nice guy with a British accent so, win-win. This seems like the right time to disclose to you all that our leading lady’s voice was SO DISTRACTING that it colored by opinion of this movie. I don’t like to make judgments about things people likely can’t control but I hated her voice and it annoyed me every time she spoke. I went and watched a clip of an interview with her from a few months ago and her voice doesn’t sound like that. So, did Hallmark make her do that? Was it a choice? Whatever it was, I HATED IT and I’m glad to know it’s not the voice she’s stuck with for life. Okay so let’s just continue with the recap.

Sarah is an eye doctor. Luckily, her office has a punny name, which I think is an opportunity most eye doctors miss. She tells her friend and assistant about all these terrible dates she’s been on and how she finally met a nice guy over the weekend. Her long-time best friend, Daniel, is doing some renovations on her office as well. He promises to get them done by the last night of Hanukkah. Though, it does seem like he has more than a week’s worth of work to do. Maybe that’s just my opinion.

Sarah has recently broken up with her long time boyfriend, Paul and is finally ready to put herself back out there. It seems that as soon as she’s put this thought out into the universe, she basically has to fight eligible men off with a stick. One such man has entered the eye doctor shop to get his hundredth pair of glasses because he is such a silly goose and keeps losing them. He shoots his shot while he’s there and asks Sarah to coffee.

Sarah is also on the board of her local Jewish Community Center. They are planning a Hanukkah dance. I assume this is as realistic as any other Hallmark movie where the lead is planning a Christmas dance at their community center. So I am going to just run with it. Sarah’s ex-boyfriend, Paul is also on the board had she had a difficult time seeing him there. Sweet Daniel reminds her that she’s too good for him.

Soon it’s time to get the family together for the first night of Hanukkah. I really would like to try the whole gamut of Hanukkah food. I spent this scene looking up recipes for latkes. I will probably outsource the jelly donuts. Sarah’s assistant joins them for the evening and we get A LOT of exposition about Hanukkah in this scene. They pass it off as Sarah’s niece explaining things to Sarah’s friend but WE ALL KNOW why they’re doing it. I wonder if the assistant and Sarah’s brother are going to get together later but they DON’T! It’s really a missed opportunity. At the end of the night, there is a giant bouquet of white roses on the porch for Sarah. There is a card attached but it is unsigned. Sarah reveals how basic she is when she says its her favorite flower. Her grandma was likely very basic as well because I think it’s her favorite too. MY favorite flower is all-purpose. HAHAHA. Couldn’t help myself.

Sarah deliberates on who it might be. She has a few leads, considering she’s dating nearly every man in town. She meets Adam, the simple man who can’t ever find his glasses, for coffee the next day and plans to quiz him to see if he’s the secret admirer. We learn that Adam is insanely wealthy. So wealthy that he wants to fly Sarah to San Francisco (from Seattle) for dinner some time. Oh, did I forget to mention that one of the conditions for selling his company was getting to use the corporate jet whenever he wants. That is a pretty significant and open ended expense to include in a buyout. Are we sure there are no conditions on such a privilege? It cannot possibly include flying a woman to San Francisco to impress her.

So Sarah really likes Adam now too. What a quandary she’s in now! It is also the second night of Hanukkah. And with that, she receives a second gift. I BELIEVE she gets a watch this time. It is just a boring old watch! I don’t know. But everyone just loses their mind over the watch so maybe it’s just not my style. I mean, I say this as someone wearing a TRULY BASIC Apple Watch Series 3 on her wrist as we speak. The next day, she is certain that it’s Nigel, that British guy from earlier. He arrives at her office to take her on a picnic, after she told him she didn’t have time for lunch. I am not sure how someone has time for a picnic if they are too busy to go to a sit down restaurant, but I suppose that’s neither here nor there. Also, if I may, I would not be stoked about an outdoor lunch in Seattle in late November/early December. Again, I suppose that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, Nigel seems indifferent about her new watch. So that’s quite a little conundrum, isn’t it.

At some point in this movie, Paul also tries to start getting back together with Sarah too. I mean, what is happening? Never have we had so many guys competing for one lead’s attention. And they’re all perfectly nice! Well, except maybe for Paul. But really, the only problem with him is that he’s exactly as advertised-a busy business lawyer boy.

Alright guys, I don’t remember what order the rest of the gifts arrive because I was doing some massive Christmas cookie baking prep while I watched this movie. But I’ve got a great big picture sort of sense of this movie so just chill.

So anyway, the next gift she gets is a picture frame. The family just loses their mind over this frame too. They’re like, dang this guy really gets you. It’s an empty picture frame so I just don’t understand. She struggles over what picture to put in it.

Despite having all manor of interested and available men at her disposal, Sarah enlists Daniel’s help in helping her practice dancing for the dance. It really seems like an excuse to hang out with him and is not something you would just ask a friend to do! In a rare moment at Hallmark, they dance to a recognizable pop song from my teenage years. The kind of dancing they practice is…not complicated.

Sarah and Daniel also do a bunch of cooking for her family’s Hanukkah festivities. HE was given her grandma’s famous recipe for something. I can’t remember which thing it is. But, he seems to be just as good at cooking and baking as he is at construction related tasks.

Meanwhile, Sarah kind of uses the poor guys that are trying to date her for her Jewish Community Center Board member obligations. She suckers Nigel into catering their dance after their original caterer was “double booked.” I tell you what, I’ve never know so many vendors to plan so poorly as they do in Hallmark movies. She also cajoles Adam into donating like, every toy he’s ever helped invent? I think? Daniel grows increasingly frustrated that Sarah has not guessed that the secret admirer might be him, despite NEVER suggesting himself that he is interested in her.

Sarah agrees to have coffee with Paul after his incessant requests. He’s finally made partner which means he has time to re-think his priorities. He takes a poorly timed call from “the office” right in the middle of telling Sarah he’s changed.

Sarah invites Nigel to one night of Hanukkah to plan the menu for their upcoming event. He wants to make everything “Jewish fusion” because his specialty is fusing cultural foods together. With what he plans to fuse traditional Jewish food, we don’t know. I think I hear him mention raisins at one point?

Sarah’s remaining gifts, in no particular order are: a menorah, glasses that look just like the ones her grandma used to wear, a jewelry box that plans a very meaningful song to her, and chocolates.

Daniel finally looses it and tells her that he’s been giving her the gifts. She tells him that she has always loved him but didn’t realize he felt the same way. But since she never once considered that he might be the one giving the gifts, he’s now mad and is over it. He is also considering moving to Aspen to do some construction jobs so that’s in the mix as well.

Sarah ponders all of these things in her heart as she gets ready for the dance. It is a FORMAL event. However, before getting completely ready, she decides to rush over to tell Daniel how she feels one more time. On her way, out, she tells him she doesn’t have a date to the dance. She wears a dress she describes (among other things) as Hanukkah blue. I swear she says it’s velvet or velvet-y soft? But it looks like shiny formal dress material. I mean, I love it on her, but it is not what I would consider velvet-y soft. Unfortunately, for Sarah, she is surrounded by all these well meaning suitors. She has to tell all of them that she is in love with someone else. They are chill in that Hallmark way that all people are chill when the lead tells them they like someone else.

As “Collide” plays again, Daniel approaches Sarah and they dance. After the song ends, he tells her he has her final gift. I genuinely wonder if he is going to propose but he instead gives her her own grandmother’s promise ring. I have to google to see if this is a “thing” in Jewish culture but I don’t know that it is; anymore than promise rings are “things” for super young evangelical couples. In conclusion, it seems to be a strange gift. But, Sarah is happy to get it and they kiss BIG TIME right out in front of everyone at the dance.

So, overall, I liked this one alright. I really liked the concept-the mystery gifts every day. I felt like we got a lot of glimpses of Hanukkah food. But the leading lady’s voice really took me out of the whole thing. I also think I liked last year’s Hanukkah movie better. Remember that one? With Ben Savage? So, I guess in conclusion, Hallmark-keep at it with these Hanukkah movies and just like, keep making them better, okay? What did you think?

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