Christmas She Wrote (2020)

Hallmark Summary: “When writer Kayleigh has her column cancelled before Christmas, she heads home to reconnect with family. Sparks fly when she gets an unexpected visit from the man who cancelled her column. Stars Danica McKellar and Dylan Neal.”

My Reaction? As sweet and soothing as a cup of cocoa (with extra marshmallows). After a VERY rocky meet cute (where Trip “Cut the Fat” Wyndham kicks columnist Kayleigh to the curb), Kayleigh’s perplexing persistence with NOT answering her phone forces Trip to travel in person from New York to Pineberry, CA, because…well…Hallmark. There, Trip attempts to convince Kayleigh to return to the newspaper where she is beloved by her fans and makes good money. Kayleigh continues to refuse Trip’s generous offer (with apologies) because…well…Hallmark.

The overall story is a layer cake of love plots (four to be exact). It’s nicely written, well-paced, and avoids a lot of the Hallmark Christmas Movie Tropes which can oversaturate the Countdown to Christmas. Instead, “Christmas She Wrote” focuses on Kayleigh’s and Trip’s professional aspirations amidst a charming community of characters.

The big draw here for me is Danica McKellar. I first saw her in “Crown for Christmas,” one of my all-time favorite Hallmark films. McKellar brings a friendly, encouraging ethos to Kayleigh’s therapist-turned-journalist who can find the good in any situation.

Dylan Neal channels his inner Scrooge so well, it took me a while to decide that Trip was all right. Once Trip arrives in Pineberry, he starts to loosen up, and we eventually learn why he’s so bah-humbug during the holidays. It’s not that he’s a raging Christmas hater. He just has a job to do. Kayleigh uses her therapeutic superpowers to get him in touch with his softer side. Awwww.

The Curse of the Obvious Choice isn’t quite as obvious this time since Kayleigh’s ex-boyfriend Dan brings a lot to the relational table. He’s also rather cheeky about turning up where uninvited.  He does give Trip a run for his money, literally, when they have a “drinking contest” (as in who can buy the most drinks for other party guests) while they vie for Kayleigh’s affections. But Dan has his own professional/personal dilemma to sort through, making him the third solid point in a well-developed love triangle.

Added Bonus: Kayleigh’s BFF Steven (who gets his own love subplot) is the guy I’ve actually been looking for all my life. Boyfriends may come and go. Friends like Steven are forever. You might recognize actor Andrew Francis from “Cedar Cove” or “Chesapeake Shores” among other Hallmark productions.

Festival, Wedding, or Ball? Snow Ball (this one never gets old!)

Line of the Night: Kayleigh to Trip – “What are you doing here? Is there a Grinch convention in town?” Hallmark BURN!

My Verdict? LIKED IT A LOT! Pairs well with any of the specialty cocktails mentioned (Jingle Juice, Santa Clausmopolitan, Merry Margarita) and a lamb tartlet with ratatouille, whipped potatoes, and glazed carrots.  Or mac & cheese if that’s your “comfort zone.”