Hope is adopted by the waitress who finds her abandoned in a diner as a baby. She’s working as an intern at a newspaper/aspiring reporter when her mother dies and suddenly Hope, now just 22, is alone in the world. And her apartment is broken into! It’s a crappy time, and right before Christmas, but a stranger brightens her day when she finds a Christmas Jar filled with cash left anonymously on her doorstep. It’s not just a ray of light during a difficult time, but a foot in the door of her budding career in journalism. A little digging uncovers a holiday phenomenon of giving.
The movie (which filmed right here in Ottawa during a cold snap last winter) was inspired by the novel of the same, by Jason F. Wright. The book, which came out in 2005, has since spawned actual Christmas jars being left anonymously across the country. Families fill jars with spare change over the year and leave it to a family in need during the Christmas season. The average jar may contain only $200 or so but it’s a gesture filled with kindness and always appreciated.
As the movie makes clear, a jar filled with not just cash but hope and goodwill, is proof that perhaps Christmas magic exists after all. A good Samaritan? A Christmas angel? A good-hearted neighbour? No matter: kindness is contagious, and whether it started with one person, it seems to have inspired a web of altruism.
Anyway, Hope (Jeni Ross) follows the trail of jars and traces their origins back to the Maxwells, a big-hearted family who basically take her in when she shows up on their doorstop pretending to write an article about their business. Of course then she stabs them in the back by publishing the jar story and breaking their anonymity, dousing them with a cold jar of betrayal. Will Hope offer another jarful of apologies? And will they counter with a jar of forgiveness? You’ll have to watch to find out if this movie ever recovers its Christmas spirit, but if you know the first thing about holiday movies, I think you can be fairly confident.