The holidays are a nostalgic time. So it’s no surprise that so many Christmas movies center around the idea of reconnecting with your roots and embracing your past. In fact, A Country Christmas Harmony, another film in this year’s slate of Lifetime holiday films, has that very plot. But sometimes, nostalgia for days gone by prevents you from seeing what’s in your future. You need to let the past go to move forward. That’s the message of It’s a Wonderful Lifetime‘s A Christmas to Treasure.
The film is about a group of six estranged friends, who are brought together for one last Christmas to celebrate the passing of a beloved elderly friend, Ms. Marley. As they work together to solve a holiday treasure hunt, they reflect upon their shared past, and sparks reignite between former friends Austin (Taylor Frey) and Everett (Kyle Dean Massey). But as their treasure hunt comes to a close, they have to decide whether to hold on to the past or look to the future.
While the theme of reunited lovers and long-nursed broken hearts is a common one for holiday films, the central romance has a bit more going on under the hood in A Christmas to Treasure. Austin is nursing a wound of long standing, still hurt that Everett had left many years before without saying goodbye. And without verbally reciprocating those three little words, “I love you.” But things aren’t that simple. As it turns out, Everett reciprocated Austin’s feelings when they were younger. However, he wasn’t ready to be “out” – to admit to the world (and his parents) that he’s gay. And, as it turns out, when he did finally find the courage to do so, his honesty lost his relationship with his parents for several years.
In any other movie, Austin’s forgiveness of Everett’s previously unexplained actions might come off as coming too easily. Granted, Lifetime holiday movies aren’t the best place to go to look for complex webs of drama and intrigue. Still, there has to be some emotional honesty to the characters, and one might think that was lacking in another (cis-het) film in the It’s a Wonderful Lifetime catalogue of films.
But in A Christmas to Treasure, Austin’s forgiveness feels genuine and true to the characters. At least initially. Austin was comfortable with his sexuality much earlier than Everett. More readily comfortable or not, though, he would have a better understanding of the struggle his friend and would-be paramour was going through. He certainly would understand the price Everett was scared he would (and, in fact, did for a time) pay for his honesty. With love comes compassion, and Austin’s ready acceptance of Everett’s confession that he left without a word because of this inner turmoil is both.
Which isn’t to say that this puts an end to any further drama between the two. Everett wants to save the Marley property. This drives him throughout the entire film. The property held a lot of happy childhood memories for him. As did the Marleys themselves. In fact, he’d returned to his hometown much earlier than Austin knew, in order to take care of Ms. Marley in her later years. At the end of the hunt, when Everett is faced with the reality that all his treasure-hunting efforts might come to nothing and he might lose the property anyway, he struggles to accept this reality. Meanwhile, Austin immediately pushes him to let it go and move forward. He wants to move their relationship forward, and he doesn’t want it to be long-distance.
Given Austin’s earlier consideration and understanding, this might seem insensitive. It’s bad timing, at least. Particularly since Austin takes Everett’s initial uncertainty about his future as yet another rejection. But throughout the film, Austin has been painted as someone who looks to the future more than the past. (In fact, the only part of the past he really seems unable to move past is his love for Everett.) It may be horrible timing. But it’s also understandable that he would see the opportunities for the two of them to move forward, more than the struggle to let go of something that cannot be.
A Christmas to Treasure is perhaps the most heartfelt of Lifetime’s slate of Christmas movies this year. It’s a movie about finding yourself. About two people finding their way back to each other. And about learning when to hold on and when to let go. After all, moving forward doesn’t mean forgetting the past. It just means not letting it hold you back from whatever is to come. Which is the perfect message for the holiday season.
Agree? Disagree? What did you think of A Christmas to Treasure? Share with us in the comments below!