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A Christmas Wish (2011)


Making accurate and wise judgment calls has not been Martha Evans (Kristy Swanson) strong suit. So far she has made two grievous misjudgments – decisions that have left her alone with three small children. Married as a young woman without the smarts to know what she was setting herself up for, her husband turned out to be a real jerk and so she left the marriage with a small daughter, Mary Ellen. Then she was swept off her feet by a charming cowboy who had a son Miles. After a whirlwind romance, they were married and less than a year later, baby Lily was added to their combined family. It doesn’t take long for Martha to realize that her marriage is not a match made in heaven… and then Cal walks out on them, taking all their meager savings with him in the process. Packing up her three children, Martha travels as far as her limited cash and beater car will take her. 

Her journey ends in a small town where she manages a job at the small diner run by a kindly widow named Trudy (Tess Harper). Although the crusty owner is reluctant to rent to a stranger with three pint-sized tag-alongs, she finds lodgings with the small motel at the edge of town and sets about the beginnings of building a new life. Working for minimum wages and with funds basically out, Martha finds herself desperate to make this move work for her kids. Although it is the season for miracle, some of those miracles seem beyond her reach; she cannot find a place to call home on her limited budget, Trudy is thinking of selling the diner and further complicating matters are the attentions of a local policeman (K.C. Clyde) who takes an interest in seeing Martha remain in the small town.

I was pleasantly surprised at how well I enjoyed this flick. It isn’t the usual syrupy goodness that is the hallmark of the Hallmark channel, although it fits the general mold. There is the usual boatload of sentimentality but for the most part, there is a realistic bent to the story that is usually missing. And let’s just admit it – we love that in movies, otherwise the Hallmark Channel wouldn’t still be producing films. Throughout the whole movie I kept thinking that this was one movie that was darn depressing (not in the same way as a moving historical tragedy might be) but I think in this script’s case that actually works in its favor. A Christmas Wish (also known as A Root Beer Christmas) has a “gritty” realism to it without becoming a sob story. Acting isn’t half-bad either (Danielle Churchran also stars, Saving Sarah Cain) although there are some over-exaggerated scenes – rare as they may be, they were still unnecessary to the plot and the child actors were adorable to boot.

Despite average production qualities, this has a good idea behind the folly of a simple-minded script. Martha develops a sweet friendship with several people in the town, and in the end, they reward her with what she is materialistically searching for. Her daughter ‘Mel’ is a faithful believer and often encourages her mother to just pray – plus the burgeoning romance Martha and Joe is really adorable. Trace elements of faith in God are present as a result of the challenges Martha faces, and it’s the “faith of a child” that ultimately brings Martha to the point in her life where she realizes she needs something more to count on than her self-reliance. Before all is said and done, she is on her knees begging for resolution to something she has no control over but wants a different outcome to. Nearly all of the characters are likable although they usually fall into the “trap” of being simple-minded folks.  Scenery is pretty and even with a cute conclusion that is all but tied up with a bow, this film has its own unique wealth of faith-based themes – it just might put us in a pensive mood in getting there.

A Christmas Wish is available on DVD or watch for encore showings of it on Hallmark Channel.
(Rated TVPG because… there are some brief and mild sensual remarks, and “adult” conversation revolves around the mistakes one person has made. Miles is bullied in school – he receives a black eye [off-camera].The kids aren't always obedient.)  
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Rissi
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2 comments:

  1. I watched this one this Christmas. I liked it. :) That tree they painted was so pretty.

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    1. It was really sweet as I remember, Juju! The premise was less cheery than most Christmas movies which was nice since it was more realistic than not - and sadly, life can be hard. Glad you enjoyed it, too! :)

      ...and I agree! That artwork is lovely. Wish I could do that. :)

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