The Christmas House

Phylis (Sharon Lawrence) has finally joined husband Bill (Treat Williams) in retirement, and she’s finding it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. With time on their hands, though, they decide to call their grown sons home and throw one last Christmas House, just like they used to do.

What is a Christmas House, you ask? Fair question. They literally empty the house of all useful contents and stage every nook and every cranny with Christmas decor, inside and out, and then invite the whole neighbourhood over to enjoy, along with cookies and cocoa of course, and even some live entertainment.

Youngest son Brandon (Jonathan Bennett) and husband Jake (Brad Harder) are able to come because their bakery is under renovation but it’s not great timing since they’re waiting to hear whether their adoption will go through – it’s been a long journey and they’ve been disappointed before. Oldest son Mike (Robert Buckley), an actor in LA, is also able to get away because his show Handsome Justice has just wrapped its first season. If the brothers are surprised to learn the Christmas House will return after a two decade hiatus, they’re even more surprised to learn that their parents plan to sell the house after Christmas – and take some time apart.

Much has been made of Hallmark finally including some LGBTQ storylines in its holiday lineup, but this isn’t much of a bone to throw the gay community, to be honest. As you can tell, Brandon and Jake are not going to be the focal point of the story; their love’s already a done deal. This is really about single (and handsome) Mike, who grew up with his eye on the girl next door, Andi (Ana Ayora), who is also convenient back next door for the holidays. Will their spark rekindle? Of course it will. But some painful memories from the past will threaten to put those flames out. Plus, mom and dad’s divorce and Brandon and Jake’s baby worries are kind of romantic bummers. But the Christmas House! That’s what’s important now, even if it’s also the only thing actually catching fire.

Oh Hallmark, how do I love thee? You’re pumping out these holiday cheese balls with such enthusiastic precision. And yet, with an impressive slate of about 40 new Christmas movies a year, this is still the first first movie produced by Hallmark to feature a same-sex married couple and a male gay couple. It’s been a long time coming and yet still manages to disappoint – give the gays their romance!

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