After the disappointment that was SHARING CHRISTMAS, I was starting to think that Hallmark was lying to us about having saved their 12 best movies of the season for last, which is something both Candace Cameron Bure and Holly Robinson Peete keep insisting is the case even though their movies have already aired and this is a total slap in the face to them because theirs were better than the most recent ones by about eleventy miles. Also, I confess, I was not all that thrilled about the whole Karen Kingsbury thing. I know she sells millions of books, and she seems like a nice person, but the faith-based genre is not my favorite, and when you claim to have created a whole new genre and trademarked it (Life-Changing Fiction™) you are getting way too close to Nicholas Sparks territory and need to back off a little. Plus, when they stick an author’s name right there in the title, well, it’s just annoying is all, mostly because some of us who have written just as many if not more books as Karen Kingsbury has don’t get OUR names in the titles of movies. Not that I’m bitter.
You know who is bitter? Maggie, the heroine of KAREN KINGSBURY’S MAGGIE’S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE, which you might have guessed since her name is right there after Karen Kingsbury’s. All of those apostrophes can be confusing, I know. Sort of like Ruth’s Chris Steak House, which is just weird even though their mashed potatoes are pretty good.
Maggie has been bitter since the age of 13 when, during a family Christmas vacation to Lake Tahoe, she met a cute boy named Kade and they made snow angels and kissed inside a photo booth and she lost her glove, which is not a euphemism, she really lost it in the snow. That wasn’t what made her bitter, though. What did that was going back to the lodge to tell her mother how dreamy Kade was only to have her mother say, “While you were letting a boy kiss you in a photo booth like a tramp, your father walked out on us, now pack your bags.” And I can see where that would be upsetting enough to make you maybe a little bit cautious about relationships.
Maggie did try to get over the whole thing. She even got married and had a little boy, Jordan, who is now maybe 9 or 10 (you can never tell with kids) and is one of those kids who look like a miniature adult what with his glasses and side part and he is so stinking cute you could just scream. But just like her dad did, her husband left her and Jordan at Christmas, and so now she is not just bitter, she’s super-bitter. She’s also a divorce attorney, which has all kinds of psychological implications that we have no time for and you should consider on your own, and she must be very good at it because she and Jordan live in a house that is the size of, like, three barns and filled with every item in both the Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware (excuse me, they’re just RH now apparently) catalogs.
Jordan is having some trouble at school, specifically in math, which we know because instead of writing “9” in answer to the question, “If the three wise men had each brought three pineapples to the Baby Jesus, how many pineapples would he have?”, he has drawn a picture of a stick figure family made up of a mom, a dad, and a little boy. This is concerning to his teacher, and so it is suggested that Maggie consider hiring a tutor for him over the Christmas break. You have to understand that in addition to being super-bitter, Maggie is also super-overprotective. As in Jordan isn’t allowed out in the world unless he’s swaddled in bubble wrap and surrounded by border collies to ward off all potential dangers. She won’t even let him have a real Christmas tree, because fires. So the idea of hiring a perfect stranger to tutor her kid is not something she is excited about. Also, she’s maybe a little upset about that stick figure family and thinks that Jordan’s emotional turmoil over not having a father in his life is all her fault.
Fortunately, her mother comes to visit for the holidays, and she tells Maggie to take a chill pill. She also offers to check out this tutor for her and see if he is up to snuff. So she and Jordan head on over to the diner that the guy owns to see his snuff. You are probably wondering why he owns a diner if he is a tutor, and the answer to that is because he and his wife used to run a school, but then they stopped doing that and opened a diner instead. It’s actually a pop-up diner, which I guess is a thing, and it is Christmas themed, which means that it not only serves things like gingerbread and whatever, but it is stuffed to the rafters with crafts that are for sale and a quilt that is not. I mention the quilt because it is symbolic, but that happens later on, so you will have to wait to find out why.
And now I must tell you something I have been avoiding revealing but can no longer put off, and that is that the man’s name is Casey Cummins, and that is all I am going to say about that, even though there are so many other things I want to say.
The important thing is that Maggie’s mom, who is named Terri, and Jordan head over to Casey’s Diner, which is both a proper noun and its common name, so do not think I am randomly capitalizing things again, to meet with Casey. And Casey is pretty much perfect in every possible way that a human male can be perfect. He is played by Luke Macfarlane, who was on a show I never saw because it wasn’t on the Hallmark Channel, and, well, I don’t even know what to say about him except that he is what would happen if Santa made magic in his workshop and combined a flannel shirt with a Labrador puppy and a double chocolate brownie and then put whipped cream on top and gave it a beard. Terri takes one look at him and forgets her name, and Jordan takes one look at him and wishes Casey was his dad. You may take one look at him and have wishes of your own.
The only person who doesn’t look at Casey and get ideas is Maggie, who comes in a little bit later and is distracted by the fact that Casey has allowed Jordan to help him and his friend Billy unload Christmas trees and that Jordan has managed to get knocked down by a medium-sized Fraser fir and bruised his arm. Jordan, who has been begging for a real tree the way some kids beg for the latest video game, thinks this is absolutely great, but Maggie thinks it shows a lack of responsibility on the part of everyone involved, and so she does not have time to notice how perfect Casey is.
We have to back up a little now, because I was so excited over telling you about Casey that I forgot some things you need to know. These are: 1. Maggie is maybe sort of kinda dating another lawyer. His name is Tanner, and 20 recaps ago, in THE SWEETEST CHRISTMAS, his name was Alex and he was Lacey Chabert’s boyfriend. This ended really badly for him, even though he tried really hard and got her a ring and everything, and I hoped this time things would be different, but once Casey showed up I knew that history was going to repeat itself and he would have to change his name and move to another city yet again. 2. Jordan writes letters to God and says, “Are you there, God? It’s me, Jordan,” and asks him to do things like make his mother love Christmas again. 3. Maggie has a friend named Lauren, who is going through a divorce and asks Maggie to represent her. Maggie tells Lauren, “When a man says, ‘I think I’m falling in love with you,’ it is the most dangerous thing ever and you should run before he breaks your heart.” And now we can move on.
So, Maggie meets Casey and is not impressed because she is worried about Jordan’s tree accident, but also because Tanner has insisted on coming with her and taking her family out to dinner at an Italian restaurant and being really pushy about their relationship, which is distracting. Then she folds socks with her mother and says, “I have not been happy since I was 13 and Kade and I made snow angels,” and Jordan writes another letter to God, like they’re pen-pals or something, and says, “I’m serious, God. My mother is making my life a living hell. For the love of Your Son, send her some joy.”
Something else you need to know is that although Maggie hates Christmas, her house is a winter wonderland. I am not even being the slightest bit sarcastic about this. It is decorated top to bottom with lights and garlands and reindeer made out of twigs and I don’t know what all. It is the most beautiful house in any Hallmark Christmas movie ever, and totally makes up for the fact that The Christmas Shop in SHARING CHRISTMAS was a dump. I would move into this house in a heartbeat, except that everything is white and I have dogs who enjoy mud. But given how we keep being reminded how much Maggie hates Christmas, I’d like to know who did all of this decorating, because the woman couldn’t hang a strand of tinsel if her life depended on it.
Maggie is still not sure about Casey, but Terri and Jordan are already in love with him and get her to say yes to letting him be Jordan’s tutor. Because Maggie is always super-busy, and can’t meet with Casey during the day to discuss Jordan’s math deficiencies, Casey suggests that she come over to his apartment and he’ll make her dinner. His apartment is also Christmassy beyond words, and he cooks the most perfect pasta sauce Maggie has ever had and feeds it to her on the end of a wooden spoon. Then we find out that his wife is dead, and although this is sad, it is also completely awesome because it means that he is available. Then Casey mentions that he had his heart broken when he was 13, and that is something that you might want to take note of, because Maggie did not.
Casey tutors Jordan by basically using him as unpaid labor in his diner, where Jordan makes change for customers and does inventory. Then Lauren informs Maggie that her husband has hired a divorce attorney of his own, and that that lawyer is Tanner. This does not sit well with Maggie, and she confronts Tanner and says, “If you ever thought you had a chance with me, you can forget it, because neither my heart nor my morals can be bought for the price of chicken piccata, and people are PEOPLE and not billable hours.” Then she goes to the diner and tells Casey she wishes she could live in a snow globe.
Jordan is pretty anxious to have a new dad, and God isn’t answering his letters, so he takes charge of the situation and asks Casey to invite his mom to go to the Christmas Stroll with him. Maggie balks at strolling with him, so he says, “Don’t think of it as strolling, think of it as exercise,” and this makes all the difference and she says okay because not only is she starting to realize how great Casey is, her FitBit is being a jerk and telling her she needs to take more steps. This goes well, so Casey informs Maggie that it is now her turn to make him dinner. This is a problem for her, as even though Maggie’s kitchen is filled with Le Creuset cookware in the gorgeous Caribbean Blue color, she has never used any of it, and so Casey ends up cooking the roast chicken himself and letting her take the credit for it because he is just that nice. Also, the same elves that decorated her house apparently also have kitchen duty, because after all of that cooking there is not a single dirty pot or spot of food anywhere on her pristine white countertops, and I have roasted enough chickens to know that this is not possible without the help of magical beings.
Things are going so well that Casey asks Maggie out again, and she says, “Well, it just so happens that I have a date that night . . . WITH YOU,” and she thinks this is hysterical but I thought it was just mean because it made Casey sad for a moment and Casey should never be with someone who makes him sad. (Just FYI, Casey, I would NEVER make you sad.) Casey forgives her, though, because he is perfect and because he can see that her heart has been battered like a shrimp at Benihana, but he gets even on the actual date when he spends the whole time talking about his dead wife. Then he makes a long analogy about a river and teaches Maggie how to tell what kind of wood is in a fire by the crackling sound it makes. This is so romantic that you practically smell the wood smoke caught in the shearling collar on his coat, but before he can capitalize on the atmosphere and kiss Maggie, her phone rings and it is Tanner calling to say that he has dropped Lauren’s husband as a client and urged them to reconcile. This ruins the moment utterly, as Maggie feels guilty about cheating on Tanner even though they are not really a thing that is going to happen, and no kissing happens.
Tanner continues to be a problem when he tells Maggie that he has a surprise for her, then won’t tell her what it is because it’s a surprise. Then Casey’s friend Billy tells him that he needs to stop being sentimental about the quilt I told you about way back at the beginning of the recap and put it away, and this is because it is the quilt he and his wife were given on their wedding day, and putting it away will also put away his lingering feelings about his dead wife so that he can move on with Maggie and be Jacob’s new dad.
Tanner’s surprise is revealed at the firm’s Christmas party, where it is announced that Tanner is being made a partner. But that is not the surprise he was talking about. That surprise is that he has bought two tickets for him and Maggie to go to Italy right after Christmas, because the only partner he wants to be is hers. He leaves her to think about whether or not she will accept the position while he goes to get congratulated on his promotion by everybody, and while this is happening Maggie totally ghosts on him and tells someone to give him back the tickets, which is a burn the size of which has not been seen since the Great Chicago Fire.
As Maggie is walking home from breaking Tanner’s heart in absentia, Casey calls her and says, “I have just jettisoned the last remnants of my love for my dead wife, and I want another date with you.” He also informs her that if you add up all of the gifts in “The 12 Days of Christmas,” there are 364 of them, which is absolutely true because I checked the math for myself, even though Casey is a math tutor and perfect and I should never have doubted him. The most things you will get during the 12 days, by the way, are geese and swans, of which you will receive 42 each, and that is a lot of fowl, so you will need either a very large pond or a very large freezer. I don’t remember now what this had to do with anything, but it was informative, so I appreciated him sharing it. Also, I was relieved that there would be only 12 drummers, because nobody needs that.
This date happens at some kind of winter carnival, where while Jordan is making a snowman ornament with a girl he has a crush on, Casey says to Maggie, “I think I am falling in love with you.” If you have been paying attention, you will recognize this as the very line Maggie told Lauren was the start of terrible things, and she absolutely believes that, because now she takes Jordan by the hand and says, “Don’t ever fall in love, and we are going home right this instant.”
Now, thanks to Maggie’s unaddressed emotional issues, everyone is miserable. Jacob takes this out on God and writes him one last letter while wearing a blue cardigan that makes him look like a tiny English professor. Casey deals with it by staring at a snow globe and having a revelation. And Maggie copes by informing her mother that everything bad happens at Christmas and that there is no such thing as miracles.
She is wrong about this. Perhaps not about miracles, because those are difficult things to define and we do not have time to convene a Vatican Miracle Commission to figure it out. But she is definitely wrong about amazing coincidences not happening at Christmas, because on Christmas Eve she opens a gift that Casey has sent home with Jordan for her and finds a snow globe from the lodge in Lake Tahoe where everything went wrong for her when she was 13. This may seem like a cruel thing to remind someone of, and you might be thinking that Casey is not as perfect as we have been led to believe, but just bear with me. Then Maggie finds a letter from Casey slipped under her door. Only it’s not really a letter from Casey, it’s the letter Jordan wrote to God, which he gave Casey to mail for him because he is too short to reach the mailbox. This part seemed a little manipulative, as the letter is all about how Jordan wants his mother to be happy and wasn’t meant for her to see, but it does the trick and Maggie rushes over to Casey’s apartment, where he says, “You will never believe this, but here are the photos of us that we took in that photo booth when we were 13, and I have always loved you and God gave my wife cancer so that we would be brought back together.” Then he answers the question that is on everyone’s minds and says, “Oh. Right. About that. My name really is Kade, with a K, and because my last name is Cummins, everyone called me KC, which then turned into Casey, and I know this a bit of a stretch but please go with it because the audience buying the story is really important for our happy ending.”
And we do buy it, because the fact that he kept those photos is the most romantic thing that has ever happened. With that out of the way, Maggie and Casey go drag Billy out of bed on Christmas morning so that he can help them find a real live tree to surprise Jordan with, and they get it set up and decorated just in time for Jordan to come downstairs and for Maggie to say, “I got you the dad you asked for!”