Countdown to Christmas

The Angel Tree (2020)

IMDB Rating: 7.1

Rebecca is a hot-shot writer who’s up for a huge promotion, but only if she can ruin her hometown’s treasured secret. Her editor wants her to traipse back to Pine River and find out the identity of the do-gooder behind the town’s beloved tradition, the Angel Tree.

For decades, some kind soul has granted Christmas wishes for townsfolk. And this angel has been doing it all anonymously. Of course, Rebecca jumps at the chance for personal gain and heads back to her tiny village for the first time in twenty years, hellbent on outing Angel despite the pain and heartache she will bring to the people she used to consider friends.

Turns out Rebecca has an axe to grind with the Angel Tree. When she was a child, she had to move away from this little slice of heaven because her father got a new job on the other side of the country. She put a wish on the Angel Tree for her family to stay, but Angel ignored it. Resentment has festered inside Rebecca for two decades, churning away at her soul like undiagnosed chronic gastritis, leaving a raging inferno in her gut and a huge hole in her stomach lining.

Matthew runs the local diner and brews up coffee blends out back. He’s also been carrying a torch for Rebecca since she left, surreptitiously following her career and rejoicing when he read about her husband’s untimely demise. And it just so happens he is one of the few people who know the secret behind the Angel Tree.

Having Rebecca back reminds him of those repressed feelings, but he chooses honor over desire and refuses to give up the secret. She keeps digging and is stonewalled by all the townspeople.

Unhindered by any sense of human decency and completely oblivious to the fact that they don’t want their secret to become tabloid fodder, Rebecca plows ahead and blogs about her investigation. People from surrounding towns and villages know a good thing when they read about one and head over to place their own wishes on the tree, hoping to scoop up some free goodies from Angel because, well, getting free stuff is what the season’s all about.

All this unwanted publicity strains Angel’s finances. Word gets out she won’t be able to meet demand. Townsfolk pick up the slack, taking it upon themselves to fill the wishes for those greedy jerks from out of town.

Rebecca’s heartless boss demands she spill the beans about Angel, but she decides no job is worth selling out her town for. Matthew kisses her, and she decides to make her little visit permanent.

Relationship update: Sick of listening to Rebecca whining about the lack of writing opportunities in her little town, Matthew sells one of his coffee blends for a million bucks and bolts for the big city.

Jingle Bell Bride (2020)

IMDB rating: 6.2

Jessica is a New York event planner who’s up for a big promotion if she can pull off a Christmas Eve wedding for a demanding pop diva who wants a bridal bouquet made from a flower grown only in a greenhouse in Alaska. Matt is the florist in a remote village in Alaska who can sell her the flowers, but she has to travel all the way from New York so she can then fly on the same plane back as the boxes he puts them in.

Her 20-hour day trip goes haywire when the only plane in and out of the tiny village develops mechanical problems and is grounded for three days while waiting for the part to arrive via dog sled. Fortunately for Jessica, she packed several days’ worth of clothes for her one-day trip and the tiny town of barely more than 100 is in the midst of its annual four-day Christmas festival, so she has plenty to keep her occupied.

It also has a strong WiFi signal so she can continue to work on the wedding despite an office rival scheming behind her back to take over the high-profile client. Of course, she spends all her spare time with Matt, and sparks ignite just as the plane is repaired.

Jessica scoots back to New York in time for the wedding. When the ceremony ends, who is standing outside the church but Matt, who has decided to come back to New York and get his Ph.D. in greenhouse flower growing.

Relationship update: Jessica gets the promotion to London and ditches Matt within a month.

For my hot takes on Hallmark Channel movies, follow me on twitter at @tv_xmasmoviefan. I try to live tweet as many as I can.

Christmas By Starlight (2020)

William is a playboy executive who doesn’t take his job at his father’s development firm seriously. Pops tells his numbskull son to shape up and orders him to hire an attorney to help him learn the family business he’s spent a couple of decades ignoring.