For Abbey and her grandma, Christmas was a very special time of year that made the pain of the past seem small. They’d decorate her grandmother’s beautiful Victorian home to the nines, make cookies together, and create homemade ornaments for the tree. But Abbey (Meggan Keiser) isn’t a little girl anymore…she’s now a hot shot real estate broker in Chicago. After her grandmother died, Abbey started spending Christmases eating out, with nothing but her work to keep her company. The immaculate Victorian she inherited is now falling apart, and she wants nothing to do with it or the small town she grew up in. But on the verge of the promotion she’s been waiting for her entire career, Abbey is summoned back home (out of necessity) just before the holidays. In search of a handyman to repair the battered Victorian, she reconnects with Ellen (Maxie McClintock), her childhood best friend, and Ellen’s brother, Josh (Zane Stephens). Josh is hired to repair the home, but in the meantime, his adorable son, Noah (Bryson JonSteele), sends a letter to Santa asking for a mom for Christmas. Abbey’s plan is simple: fix the house and sell it, then hightail it back to Chicago by Christmas to land the account of her dreams. But with a little help from the suspiciously jolly Nick (Jon W. Sparks), Abbey finds herself stuck at home for Christmas — and Noah’s heartfelt Christmas wish may just be close to coming true.
In Christmas Comes Home, audiences are treated to a warm and cozy holiday film, filled with love, wholesome characters and beautiful motifs. Abbey is a typical fast-paced corporate type who has forgotten her small-town roots. She’s blinded by her drive to achieve and stays constantly moving. She’s spent years trying to put the pain of losing her loved ones behind her, but in the process, she’s forgotten parts of who she is. Going back home before the holidays — especially when she’s about to go to the next level in her career — seems like the most egregious setback possible. At first, Abbey is eager to get back to Chicago. She’s disinterested in staying at her grandmother’s ramshackle Victorian, and she’s most certainly not interested in spending time with her best friend Ellen’s annoying big brother, Josh. But as Abbey’s attempts to leave home fall apart, she finds herself embracing the comfort and familiarity of her friends, the town she grew up in, and the traditions that made those old times so loving. Making peace with the old, and embracing the new (in the form of her bond with Noah and Josh), Abbey may find that home isn’t so bad…in fact, it may be just what she needed.
I love how Christmas Comes Home incorporates the theme of mixing new and old throughout the film. We see Abbey passing along family traditions to Noah, reliving those special memories with her grandmother; and we also see Abbey, Noah, and Josh all reconciling with pain from the past, while making new memories together. The theme is echoed in the window display the characters create in Ellen’s store for Christmas; combining old and new ornaments. Josh and Noah have been hurt by Noah’s mother’s absence, and both fellas are excited but scared for Abbey’s presence in their lives. Abbey is confused and fearful when she draws closer to them…how can she make a family if she never had one of her own? How can she leave her career and life behind? The film does an excellent job of portraying a relatable, organic, honest romance. Christmas Comes Home avoids many of the trappings of similar holiday romance films, but when it does veer into cliche territory, audiences can look forward to Ellen talking some sense into both of our leads. Ellen’s character is one of my favorite parts of the film, because she is able to deliver wise advice to her best friend and brother with love and truth, and plays a huge role in guiding the story along without allowing them to fall into overdone plot devices. The writers allow viewers to fall in love with Abbey, Josh, Noah, and their families in a way that makes sense; it’s realistic, its gently paced and natural, filled with all the special moments, as well as fears and doubts, that real relationships encounter.
Additionally, the main characters are all honest and demonstrate integrity; when they do wrong, they are quick to admit their mistakes and make it right. Abbey is a workaholic but is quick to drop her work to share her attention with Noah, or to help Ellen with her shop. Josh is a hardworking single dad, but doesn’t falter in being there for Abbey, his sister, and his parents. Ellen gives to everyone around her, in her joy, her support, her friendship. Even the often-conniving secondary character, Karen, is able to eventually behave with grace and respect. Josh’s parents are welcoming and caring, and at some point, even Ellen’s crochety landlord is able to exhibit kindness. I don’t know about you, but I get frustrated with over-dramatic, emotionally immature, “fell in love overnight” type romance movies … thankfully, Christmas Comes Home departs from those conventions. Now, viewers will recognize that the ‘real world’ isn’t much like the one depicted in Christmas Comes Home. In the real world, people aren’t always honest and kind, relationships don’t always reconcile and Santa doesn’t show up and help out with our Christmas wishes. But in a world that often is harsh and cold, it’s nice to watch a film that shows true-to-life characters behaving with kindness and integrity. It’s nice to watch something genial when there are so many hateful narratives being thrown at us every day — both real and imagined. So, Christmas Comes Home is like a cup of hot cocoa on a winter’s evening; it’s a perfect clean holiday romance, but beyond that, it’s a nice break from the world around us — and perhaps a latent reminder that treating each other well could make it feel like Christmas every day.
Christmas Comes Home has been awarded the Dove Seal of Approval for All Ages.
The Dove Take
A warm and cozy holiday film, filled with love, wholesome characters, and beautiful motifs.