In life we all fear something – snakes, spiders, commitment. Some of us have a fear of failure. Some of us have a fear of succeeding. And well, if you are like me, you have a fear of living. It’s a fear that wraps everything up into one, brought on by the past, the current, and the fear of hurt.
Hurt is a weird thing. Hurt when you’re a kid, hurt when you’re an adult – hurt at any age. It can make you fear opening up and allowing yourself to love.
I know, I know – we’re talking about a Christmas movie here, but no movie is just one thing. Sometimes it is multi layered, and you catch onto little things, realizing that the overall story is because of one thing that you experienced, and one thing that you feel still and now.
I admit, I am a little drunk writing this, and alcohol makes me emotional. But a movie with Tyler Hynes and Bethany Joy Lenz makes me emotional also. Why? Because two of my favorite actors on The Hallmark Channel always manage to do something that others don’t (well on the same level) – play characters with vulnerability that make you feel something that you didn’t want to feel, but need to.
I am getting ahead of myself here, but there is just so much love that I feel for An Unexpected Christmas.
In the movie, “Jamie (Hynes) travels home a week before Christmas but he still hasn’t told his family he broke things off with his girlfriend Emily (Lenz), whom they adore. When Emily arrives in town unexpectedly for work, Jamie offers her a deal – he’ll get the Governor to deliver the Christmas Day address for her marketing campaign and in return, Emily will stay with his family for the week under the pretense she and Jamie are still together. What follows is a week of awkward fumbling and near misses as Jamie and Emily try desperately to keep their true relationship status a secret. Eventually, their ruse begins to unravel. Just when it seems like Christmas has been ruined, Jamie pulls out all the stops to make things right, resulting in a very unexpected Christmas.”
Jamie’s a perfectionist and Emily is a slob (I feel comfortable calling her that after I saw the way she packed her suitcase). Emily has a career that is taking off, she’s a genius at marketing. She can spin anything into gold. Jamie has been struggling to find his way, but is currently working for the Governor as a speech writer. It’s a job that he is scared of.
See, Jamie was a kid that got made fun of and it stuck with him. He feels like he needs everything to be perfect, because in perfection there is no room for people to say anything negative.
But it’s also held Jamie back, because he doesn’t know how to say the important things. He acknowledges the feelings that he has. He knows what he feels. But articulating it is coming face to face with the thing that he fears the most – failure.
And so rather than fail – in love or in work – he had dumped Emily. He has a million excuses, but the truth is that he loved her and felt like a failure in his own eyes, and he didn’t want to hold her back.
But here’s the problem with his reasoning – he thought that love would be something that he could easily hide or it was something that would easily fade. And sure, there is the probability that could happen, but when you really love someone, that probability is low.
Jamie hasn’t told his family that he broke up with Emily, not wanting to hurt them, because they’d been through a lot recently with his grandfather dying. Through a series of events though, Emily ends up on the same train to his home town and his sister mistakes it as her coming home with him.
Jamie’s family is that family that you don’t want to disappoint. They all know that life isn’t perfect, but they also know that as long as they are happy and have each other, that’s all they need. It’s Emily’s love for Jamie (yes, she still loves him, even after him dumping her). She does realize her being there is a bad idea, but you can see in her eyes that he love for Jamie is what keeps her making the bad decision of staying.
When her spokesperson backs out of the campaign she’s in town for, Jamie makes a deal with her – he’ll get her to Governor if she makes the promise to stay and act like they are still together.
He loves her. You can see it in his eyes and in every action that he takes. Love is in the small things – the way he looks at her when she isn’t looking, the way he talks about her and there is a pain that you can’t describe when he’s talking about her, the way that he cracks a smile when anyone mentions her name.
Love is a crazy thing.
Love keeps you doing crazy things. All of those crazy things may feel normal because everything makes sense and no sense at the same time when emotions are involved.
Hynes and Lenz have a unique chemistry on the screen. One that is so natural that it feels real. They take you through a myriad of emotions – laughter, pain, dislike, and love. They know how to fit together in a scene, playing off each other and making the viewer feel as though you are looking at private moments that you shouldn’t be viewing.
As with every Hallmark Movie, there is a point where the two leads fall apart to find their way to each other. And these two characters fall apart in a way that breaks you. I literally cried, because I was rooting so hard for them and by that point in the movie, as a viewer I was hoping that they had grown enough to know that love was something they deserved, and the fears that they both had, was something that they had overcome.
Sometimes you have to fall apart in order to be able to put the pieces back together. And when they do come back together, it’s better than you left them as.
Nothing in this movie is always perfect and things don’t work out the way you think that they will at all times, but that is the beauty of An Unexpected Christmas. It’s a movie that feels real. It’s a movie that provokes emotion. It’s a movie that makes you feel.
And it’s a movie that feels real. Not many movies feel like that these days.
An Unexpected Christmas is definitely in our top two holiday movies so far this year. Do yourself a favor – stop and watch it when it comes on.
Who knows, you may find yourself overcoming fears to find yourself open to love too.