Photographer Holly Logan (Jana Kramer) returns to her hometown of Gulfport, Mississippi for Christmas. The town is still recovering from a devastating hurricane five years ago and is resurrecting their traditional holiday light show for the first time since it struck. It’s going to take quite a production to make up for lost time and boost town morale, so Holly volunteers to pitch in, but soon regrets it when she discovers the festival is run by her high school sweetheart, Mike (Wes Brown). Now Holly must spend the next few days with the man who broke her heart when he didn’t follow her to college as planned.
The past decade has perhaps changed Mike: he’s stable, he’s sweet, he volunteers, and he takes care of his nephew Jack. Does he have a job? Who knows! Between those crinkly blue eyes and his acoustic guitar, who cares? Holly’s widowed mother Caroline (Faith Ford) is certainly on board, pushing the two together at every opportunity, even though she herself continues to rebuff the charms of a certain Mr. Maguire (Richard Karn).
With the magic of Christmas wafting through the air and a few silly misunderstandings quickly out of the way, there’s plenty of room for Mike and Holly to fall in love.
Kramer and Brown have the bland kind of appeal which I suppose allows almost anyone to imagine themselves in their shoes. Faith Ford and Richard Karn add a certain 90s vibe to the whole proceeding (you may remember Ford as Corky on Murphy Brown, and Karn as Al on Home Improvement), and you might wish we could see a fuller secondary love story from these second-timers. (Fun fact: my mother’s husband retired this summer, and his kids paid Richard Karn to send him best wishes over the internet in a pre-recorded video – apparently that’s a thing you can do).
This is a Lifetime movie rather than a Hallmark movie, and I know there are devoted camps to both, so if that’s a difference-maker to you, be forewarned (the only real difference that I can discern is that Hallmark always makes you wait until the very last scene for the couple’s first and only kiss, while Lifetime makes you wait only the first 90 minutes (counting commercials) and then maybe sneaks in another one or two (pecks, closed mouths, no tongues) before the film wraps up in the exact same way a Hallmark one does. These movies don’t literally end on a heart-shaped dissolve, but they don’t have to – you can feel it. It is heavy like a hard cheese, and that, my friends, is no coincidence. Peace out.