Lots of Conflict
Any Hallmark movie aficionado who has ever rolled their eyes at the “almost kiss” that is usually a fixture about midway through the movie might want to check this one out. About 10 or 15 minutes into it and before the sun has set on the day they meet, the girl launches herself at the guy and plants one on him. He was very surprised, but not half as surprised as I was. It was a jaw-dropper.
Andrew Walker, Aaron, is sent by his property developer father to Maple Valley to buy a piece of land that he has had his eye on for years. The land adjoins the tree farm and maple syrup business of the Holden family. The widowed mother has recently given equal control of the operation to her two daughters. The older daughter, Erica, is determined to buy back this land that once belonged to them. The younger daughter, Heidi, wants to use the money to expand their syrup business and maybe “go retail”. Which left me scratching my head. Their syrup business seems to be their only source of income and is apparently thriving (another shocker). Yet they only seem to sell it at festival booths.
There is a lot of conflict in this one. Aaron and his father are at odds because the father perceives Aaron as lazy and unambitious. Aaron does not like his father’s business practices and putting his company over his family his whole life. When Aaron sees that the “Fernandez land” is more important to Erica and better suited to her needs than his company’s he tells her he will not be bidding on the land after all. Erica is happy, grateful, and more enamored than ever. When he tells his father what his decision is, his father is irate. He does not trust his judgment and thinks he is weak and letting sentiment get in the way of good business. Dad hot-foots it to Maple Valley to close the deal himself. Uh Oh.
There is conflict between the two sisters. The younger, Heidi, does not want to buy the land and feels Erica is running rough-shod over her when they are supposed to be equal partners. She has felt discounted her whole life. The mother is retiring because she is moving to Italy with her boyfriend and wants no part of the sisters’ dispute. Erica is upset that her mother is leaving home and putting love and companionship over family and business. She throws shade at the boyfriend who does not deserve it. She doesn’t like the Christmas tree decorations either. When Erica finds out that the father has overruled Aaron’s decision about the land, she gets upset with Aaron. Erica may not be the most likable heroine ever but at least she communicates. Every one does in this movie which is rare for Hallmark. Aaron quits his father and the company he is heir to in order to start his own company. Erica’s sister quits the family business. Erica and Aaron’s father, the ultimate antagonists, both seem to be in the same boat!
How all of these people come together in love and understanding bowing their heads in prayer at Christmas dinner makes for a pretty interesting journey. The prayer is really nice. I paraphrase, “Thank you for this food, this family, this land, this work, and this life. Thank you for what has come before us and what is yet to come. Thank you for the things we cannot change and the things we can.” There are two things I don’t get. What happened to the Fernandez Land? I must have missed it but did the Holdens buy it, or was Mr. Fernandez left in the lurch? Aaron and his dad hug it out at the end, but does he still quit his company? If I have time I’ll rewatch that last part and get back with you.