Never say a dying grandma can’t milk her last breaths for all they’re worth – Evie (Marion Ross) certainly does. Recently discharged from the hospital, she’s laid up in her daughter’s home, and with granddaughter Sara (Ellen Hollman) home for Christmas too, she schemes to reconnect the estranged mother-daughter duo with the perfect Christmas list. Will it work? And will grandma still be around to see it?
Evie’s list has some fairly banal items for Sara and mom Michelle (Beth Broderick) to cross off together: bake cookies from scratch, cut down a real tree, do some work for charity. Typical stuff. Normally they’d be triggering each other left and right and tearing each other’s hair out, but with grandma’s imminent death hanging over them, their usual bickering seems trivial and they’re managing to mend the rift.
Don’t worry, don’t worry, there’s a little wiggle room in there for romance. Grandma’s hot doctor makes house calls. Dr. “call me Brandon” Reed (Aaron Hill) is, like so many men in holiday romances, almost too good to be true. He’s an attentive doctor but he’s also Mr. Fix It, working a side gig as a handyman to make spare cash for an orphanage where he spends all his free time. His only flaw is that he buys bacon flavoured butter, and let me be clear, that’s not necessarily a flaw in my book but in Sara’s, and clearly it’s not a deal breaker for her either.
A Perfect Christmas List deviates slightly from the normal formula in that its main focus is on the three generations of women, and repairing a broken relationship before it’s too late. These types of movies often espouse family values, and they always make sure the heroine has interests and friends outside of her romantic relationship, which is kind of refreshing if you think about it, and very nearly (dare I say it?) feminist. She’ll always have a best friend, or a close coworker, or a solicitous sister, or a mother she doesn’t go a day without calling, and she doesn’t drop them just because she met a man. And the holiday romance man is not only okay with that, he actually likes your mouthy best friend. He checks on your mom. He fits in seamlessly with your family. Dr. Brandon has a crush on Sara but understands that she’s making time for family right now. And when she does have a free moment, he doesn’t jump to her beck and call, he honours his commitment to the orphaned children and trusts that Sara will wait. Call it corny, call it idealistic or even unrealistic, but let’s also think about calling it GOALS.