I think you’ve been reading our Christmas movie reviews long enough to know that I am trash for Christmas movies. You can definitely call me a grinch in real life, because I am one. But you can also know that Hallmark Christmas movies challenge that and start to melt my heart.
And if we’re being honest, this years movies are really challenging my emotions. I think I have spent more time crying over movies than I have in the past. And I don’t even know why half the time. And the other half, I know exactly why.
Hallmark has challenged itself and done something different this year. They’ve made stories that have challenged their formula and are new. Long Lost Christmas, starring Taylor Cole and Benjamin Ayres, is one of those.
In the movie, interior designer Hayley (Cole) plans to surprise her mother Patricia (Jaqueline Ann Steuart), with the perfect holiday present: the extended family she knows her mom yearns for. Hayley herself thinks she and her mom are fine alone, but she has recently discovered the existence of a lost relative, Patricia’s brother. Hayley hopes to find him and reunite the two siblings for Christmas. She travels to a town outside of Denver to chase a lead on a man named Gordon (Grant Vlahovic), who owns a cabin construction company and who just might be her uncle. Hayley is delighted by the town, which is all decked out for Christmas. She’s equally charmed when she meets Gordon, his daughter Brianna (Stephanie Van Dyk) and Jake (Ayres), the property manager. As Hayley tries to discover whether Gordon is actually her long lost uncle, she beings to fall in love with the idea of extended family, the charm of the town and Jake. However, when she learns the circumstances
surrounding the siblings’ separation, Hayley has second thoughts and decides to abandon her
mission. Gordon, on the other hand, is happy to finally have a lead on finding Patricia – but will
he be able to bring the family together in time for Christmas?
When it comes to Christmas everything is complicated. Families are hard. Sometimes there is a lot of happiness and sometimes there is a lot of complication. But I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want the ideal Christmas.
For Hayley, it’s something her Mom has always wanted – a family. Hayley’s father just passed six months ago and Patricia has been lost. Hayley’s recently discovered the existence of a relative, her Mom’s brother Gordon. Patricia doesn’t want to talk about her brother at all. She thinks that he left her and for Patricia it’s just too painful to talk about.
Hayley wants to know about the uncle she’d never heard of. Her Mom was in a group home with her brother, until he aged out and she was adopted. She never heard from him again and thought that he didn’t care. Patricia felt abandoned. Patricia felt alone. But when Hayley tries to talk to her about it, she doesn’t want to speak of it. It’s almost as if there is some deep dark secret, and it’s not until later in the movie you find that it’s because she’s in emotional pain.
Hayley has everything going for her and is invited to take part in a design showcase, but with this happening, she decides that she’s going to do everything that she can to find her Mom’s brother. She needs to give her Mom some source of happiness and peace.
So she sets out to find her Moms brother and finds a man in a small town outside of Denver, that seems as though he could be her Uncle. She goes under the guise of wanting to rent a cabin for a reunion. But the reunion that she really wants is between her Dad and her Uncle.
And while she expects to just be there a night, she ends up spending multiple days there. It’s in those days that she tries to find out more about Gordon, but he’s not opening up. She’s somehow easily managed to become a part of the fabric of Gordon’s business partners life.
Jake is closed off to love. He’s a workaholic and he’s been hurt. But there is something about Hayley that he’s instantly drawn to. He trusts her and wants to be there for her. And she trusts him.
The thing is – these “instant love” storylines don’t ever bother me because I believe that when you know, you know. And that’s in life and in the movies. Sometimes people are there for you and they make you believe again. Your heart knows what it needs.
What is hard to watch is Hayley being told by Gordon that he had no brothers or sisters. You could tell that she wanted so badly for him to be her Uncle. Yet, somehow, even then, she doesn’t leave town when she’s supposed to. She stays.
And she finds her way to keep helping Jake, Brianna, and Gordon. But what also happens is they help her to be better and see that she needs more help in her life, but also to be open to love.
Brianna (Gordon’s daughter) and her connect on a creative level, and as Hayley’s showcase room changes, Brianna helps her. The two are instantly close and don’t have to think twice about their connection. And Brianna is thankful for having Hayley around, as she has a friend and feels a connection.
It’s when Gordon has a heart attack and Hayley’s there to get him help, that again she stays. She helps with a fundraiser and it’s then she realizes the truth. Gordon is her Uncle.
The confrontation between the two of them is heartbreaking, because they both have their wounds exposed. In a way their wounds are their own, but both of them have a wound when it comes to Patricia. One as a daughter and one as a brother, and both feeling guilt over what she’s lost.
It seems as though Gordon and Patricia both hid their past, because sometimes it’s just too painful. I can’t be mad at that, I think we’ve all experienced it. But like my sister always told me, sometimes you have to face the pain.
Only sometimes the pain that we’re afraid of facing is the thing that we need to face the most.
Gordon going to his sisters house and seeing her after all these years – their reunion – well I cried. But I also know that there was more I would have wanted to see. Yet, I got the point of it all. I understood that family is the place that you can always go home to.
And the place that never leaves you.
And that my friends can be the magic of Christmas, being brought back together. That’s a story I can get behind.