Amber L. Carter
Writer. Professional Intuitive. Pop Culture Obsessive.
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A Very Carter Christmas: Hallmark's "Return To Christmas Creek"

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Welcome to the A Very Carter Christmas version of Return To Christmas Creek!

Our adventure in schmaltz opens up by giving tribute to the true star of any RomCom, Christmas or otherwise: A bustling city full of people! This time it happens to be Chicago, as identified by a snowy Navy Pier and a cab driver yelling “LOU MALNATIS IS THE BEST DEEP DISH!” to a bunch of unsuspecting pedestrians standing outside Gino’s East.

Assistant Carrie is listing off all the preparations she’s made for her boss Amelia’s Christmas in the Turks & Caicos. “Just 24 hours until I’m sipping cold Mai Tai’s on a warm beach!” Amelia gushes, and honestly that does sound fantastic. She offers to buy her assistant a ticket, but Carrie’s like, “Oh, no thanks, you’ve already been too generous, and also, who the fuck wants to spend the holidays with her boss on a tropical island. Besides, what about your BOYFRIEND, AMELIA?!”

Turns out, Amelia’s boyfriend, Brad (why are they always Brads?!) has decided to be a real jerk by spending Christmas with his family. But she’s having him over for a Danish smörgåsbord with her parents that night, so that’s basically the exact same thing!!!

Amelia, an app developer, is about to do her pitch for a new app she’s developed that’s based on the “top-selling” app she’s already sold to a bunch of old white guys (is it the board of a company? A bunch of investors? Does the person who wrote this know how app development actually works? Because I sure don’t!) called “Closet Assist.” So she’s got this!

Except that she doesn’t! According to Amelia, “Christmas Assist” is more advanced than a gift registry: the app aggregates your contacts’ past purchases and then chooses the perfect gift for them and it even sends them a card! WOW WOW WOW. Which honestly sounds pretty brilliant, but the head dude doesn’t agree, because to him, it doesn’t “encompass” the true spirit of Christmas. “Uh, pretty sure the true spirit of Christmas is making a billion dollars, which is what this app will do,” Amelia says under her breath. And she’s right! But again, the boys on the board don’t agree. Amelia goes back to her office, upset that they made her feel like she doesn’t know Christmas! She grew up in a town named Christmas Creek FOR GOD’S SAKE! Which is news to Carrie, who gets all up in her biz by pointing out that she thought Amelia grew up in San Francisco! “NO!” Amelia says, slamming her “NEW APP IDEAS” three-ring binder down on the desk. “I moved to San Francisco when I was 13! Now get out of my office and go do your job by fetching me a goddamn Ho Ho Mint Mocha!”

The Mystery of The Hughes Family Inn Mailer

Later, at her high rise apartment in River North (yeah, that’s right, I know exactly which part of Chicago they’re alluding to by the exterior shots. I used to live there, in case you didn’t know that), Amelia is busy whipping up the smörgåsbord when her parents arrive, already bickering. Her mom takes over the cooking, because while Amelia COULD cook if she WANTED to, her focus is obviously ON HER WORK. “But the Danes eat open-faced sandwiches for every meal” Amelia protests (uh, they’re called Smørrebrød, AMELIA). “It’s not my fault - it’s my DANISH HERITAGE that we’re going to curiously keep bringing up in this movie like it matters!”

Amelia then notices a letter on her counter that her parents just happened to bring over. “What’s this?” She asks.

“Doesn't matter,” Her dad says, passive-aggressively, as he begins setting the table. “Oh, yeah?!” Amelia replies. “Then why the FUCK did you bring this shit over to my apartment then, huh?!” Amelia’s mom tells her that they received it from Uncle Harry’s Hughes Family Inn…it was forwarded from their San Francisco address and mailed back in November!

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“Aren’t you going to open it?” Amelia asks.

“It’s probably just junk mail,” her dad replies.

“Great, then thanks so much for bringing JUNK MAIL over to MY luxury, high-rise apartment!” Amelia retorts, ripping open the letter. It turns out to be a mailer about the Hughes Family Inn’s 40th Anniversary of Fly-By Santa. All three of them look disappointed that it’s not a custom embroidered flower hoop saying, “I love you, I’m sorry, I miss you.”

Amelia’s parents ask about the app meeting, and Amelia tells them that the board basically told her she didn’t know Christmas, which is actually NOT what they told her, but okay.

Later, Brad comes strolling in, having been stuck at work. Amelia lays on the guilt trip pretty thick, telling him that her parents stuck around for as many rounds of “Smörg” as they could, meaning he was too late and now they probably hate him. But that’s okay, because Brad needs to talk! He wants Amelia to spend Christmas with his family, and Amelia is like, “Brad, you know that the holidays are stressful for me” and he’s like, “ONE argument 20 years ago doesn’t mean you should miss out on family Christmases for the rest of your life, how about you GROW UP.” He compares their relationship to a dance - which is NEVER good - and illustrates this “push pull we keep doing”. He keeps trying to pull her closer and she keeps pushing him away! I wonder why that is?!? Probably has something to do with what happened at Christmas Creek all those years ago!!! Anyway, Brad’s like, “Sorry, gotta bounce” and dumps her on the spot. Which is SUCH a Brad thing to do!!!

Later that night, Amelia’s packing for her trip when she turns and picks up the mailer from Uncle Harry that’s now sitting on her nightstand (yeah, it’s weird that the mailer is now next to her bed, right?) and sees that Uncle Harry photoshopped her picture next to Santa in the flying sleigh. WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!?!

The next day, Amelia’s at the office when her assistant is like, “Get the fuck out of here, I thought I finally had a day in the office without my boss, and by the way, you’re going to miss the flight that you made me plan for you.” Amelia tells her that Brad broke up with her last night, and Carrie’s like, “Big surprise. You don’t even know how to make a SMÖRGESBOÅRD.”

“I’m going back to my roots,” Amelia announces.

“Good, because pretty sure those curtains don’t match the carpet,” Carrie replies.

“Um, first, you’re FIRED, because this is 2018 and Millennial woman don’t even HAVE carpet anymore, and second, I mean going back to Christmas Creek. You know, the incredibly important place I grew up in that nobody even knew I was from until literally yesterday?!”

Turns out that, back when she lived in Christmas Creek, Amelia was Santa’s Little Helper, her uncle’s co-pilot when they flew for Fly-By Santa. Which, much like her DANISH HERITAGE, is apparently a fact we’re supposed to care about. Conveniently, the place is ALSO only 3 hours from Chicago!!! So Amelia is going there instead of Turks & Caicos this year, in hopes that it will help her figure out how to fix Christmas Assist, which is super important since Christmas is only a week or so away, and everyone knows that you just develop an app and then get it up and running within a couple of days, and it’s definitely not a process that takes months to design, test, and launch.

Welcome to Christmas Creek

Driving out to Christmas Creek, Amelia checks her navigation app - man, this woman is REALLY into apps!!!!! - and then audibly expresses frustration about there not being any street signs. She pulls over, and we see a jeep slowly pull in behind her, which would usually signal that this is turning into a VERY different movie. Luckily for us, a very handsome man steps out, knocks on her window, and asks if she need help. She’s like, “no thanks, I’m good” and he’s like, “oh really, because you’ve been driving 20 miles under the speed limit.”

“I saw the plates,” he points out. “Illinois. You from out of town, huh?” and suddenly I feel very uncomfortable because again, this feels like it’s about to turn into the Hallmark version of Deliverance. Amelia’s like, “WOW you can read I didn’t expect that from a country boy like you” and he’s like “What?” and she’s like, “I’m trying to get to the Hughes Family Inn” and he’s like, “Oh, it’s just a half a mile down the road and then turn right, but ALSO, you shouldn’t be driving on these clean country roads without winter tires, so why don’t you follow me and then I suggest you get yourself some decent tires.” And she’s like, “EXCUSE YOU, what are you, the road police??” As if that’s something that DOESN’T exist and isn’t called THE SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT. “Well, actually,” he says, and I’m honestly surprised he hasn’t broken out the mansplaining before this, “I’m the search and rescue here, and I wouldn’t want to have to pull you out of the ditch.” And then Amelia’s like, “HAHAHAHA I APPRECIATE THAT.”

Finally, after that witty repartee, they pull into a cute looking lodge where Uncle Harry is hanging Christmas lights on the side of the building.

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Amelia and Search-&-Rescue dude both get out and walk up to Uncle Harry, and Amelia’s like, “You haven’t changed one bit.”

Uncle Harry, obviously not knowing who she is, is like, “Uh, thanks…you got a reservation?” Amelia tells him no, and he’s like, “Cool, well, we’re all booked up, so it looks like you’re gonna hafta kick rocks.”

“Uncle Harry, it’s MEEE!” Amelia squeals. Finally Uncle Harry recognizes her and they hug and the hot guy behind her is like, “Wait, you’re Miels?” Uncle Harry’s like, “Yeah, did you recognize Mike Ruggels, YOUR BEST FRIEND FROM WHEN YOU WERE A KID HERE” and Amelia is like, “oh my god, you’re Ruggels?!?” and he’s like, “As far as I know HAHAHAHAHAHA.”

Uncle Harry tries to smoothly ask if Amelia’s mom and dad are coming and Amelia is like, “Oh, no, they still hate you. It’s just me.” Then Mike is like, “I gotta get going” and Amelia is like “OKAY C-YA BYE” and he’s like “it’s great to have you back Miels” and she’s like, “yeah I know, BYYYYEEEE.”

They start walking into the lodge - at one point Uncle Harry is like, oh, see that plant? and Amelia is like OMG it’s still there?!? and it is HILARIOUS - and Amelia is like, “Wow, this place is so great now and so BUSY” which means it obviously used to be a total dump and Harry’s like, “yeah, I fixed it up a bit” and then we get to meet Nathan, who runs the front desk. Nathan is like “OMG you have a niece!?? WHY DOES NO ONE IN YOUR FAMILY EVER TALK ABOUT ANYTHING” and then informs them that the Inn is still booked since they last talked about it 5 minutes ago. So Harry suggests that Amelia stay in his cabin. “The cabin where I grew up?” Amelia asks.

“Oh, you mean the cabin where I now live?” Uncle Harry corrects her. “Yeah, that one. I own this place now, Amelia. Get used to it.”

So she ends up staying in the cabin where she used to live and Harry now lives. We find out that Harry and his long-time girlfriend, Pamela, broke up (which I’m sure we won’t hear any more about!!!), and Harry does some more digging about her parents. Amelia’s room is still upstairs, basically untouched, which is actually pretty creepy and weird - did her parents not let her pack any of her stuff before they left? And even if so, why did Uncle Harry keep the room like a parent would to a room of their now-dead kid? Like, wouldn’t you turn it into an office or a crafting space or at least some extra storage space? Shit is weird. Amelia, for her part, is overcome with memories as she sits down in her untouched bedroom, clutching a stuffed animal. “I wonder if I can turn this into an app,” she thinks, as she stares up at the knotty pine ceiling with eyes full of wonder.

Hop In, Loser, We’re Going Christmas Shopping

The next day, Amelia comes downstairs to find Uncle Harry pouring a cup of coffee, and they chat about what her plans are for that day, and then decide to do dinner later. Amelia announces that she might go into town and check things out, and Uncle Harry is like “take my truck, it’s better for the winter roads.” Like, how bad are these goddamn roads?!?! But it also give her a chance to look cute in an old rugged truck, which I’m not mad about (I actually really like that truck). Driving into town, Amelia ahhs and ooohs over all the decorations in the town square, coo’ing that Christmas Creek “still lives up to the name.” I mean…it is Christmas, after all. Literally every town in the northern part of America would live up to a name like “Christmas Creek” if you visited it around Christmas.

Taking a stroll down the festive streets, she stops into a Christmas shop where there just happens to be a clever young girl in a cute pixie cut who greets her as she walks in. “Do you work here?” Amelia asks, her phone out and ready to call social services.

“My mom owns it,” the kid replies. “She just went to get us some hot chocolate.” Because what else would she be doing, this is a Christmas movie after all!!!! Amelia is like, “oh, I used to come in here when I was your age, it was always the best place for Christmas decorations”, and the girl is like, “Christmas IS the most wonderful time of year!” Oh IS IT?! I HATE child actors!!!!!

Amelia walks over to her and is like “what are you working on?” The girl is like, “WELL, since you can’t mind your own business, I’m working on a school report about Amelia Earhart. She’s a pilot and my hero.” Amelia is like, “OMGMYNAMEISAMELIADIDYOUKNOWTHAT” and the girl is like “OMGYOU’RESOLUCKYMYNAMEISSCOUT” and then Amelia drops another hard brag by being all, “You know my uncle loves to fly” and then Scout is like, “Yeah, WELL, my uncle is a pilot and my dad is a soldier, SOOOOO.”

Meanwhile, back at the lodge, Uncle Harry is walking around with Nathan - who happens to be wearing a bow tie AND a sweater, like a boss - who BRILLIANTLY suggests they string some Christmas lights over the fireplace and then is like, “Oh, by the way, I didn’t know you had a niece, what’s that all about?” Uncle Harry is like, “Uh, you’re my EMPLOYEE, how about I DON’T pay you to ask me personal questions about my life.” But then he decides to fill him in on the fact that Amelia was his original co-pilot for Fly-By Santa. He questions Nathan on whether he was the one who sent a brochure about the 40th Anniversary to Nathan’s brother. Nathan’s like, “Uh, since I don’t know your life, I didn’t know there were people we WEREN’T sending them to, but I can go back and look through the FORTY YEARS of contacts we have in the database IF YOU WANT” and Uncle Harry, knowing what’s good for him, drops it.

Back in town, Amelia runes into Pamela, who heard she was in town from Mike Ruggels. Amelia mentions she’s at the Inn and Pamela is like, “Yeah, say hi to Uncle Harry for me, I don’t see him around much NOW THAT WE BROKE UP AND EVERYTHING" and Amelia is like, “oh yeah, I heard about that, well, gotta go!” She hops in the truck and tries to start it when she gets a call from her mom. Oh NOOOES! The parents of a GROWN WOMAN doesn’t know she’s spending Christmas in Christmas Creek with her uncle whom her parents never talk to anymore!!!! Amelia tells her mom that she didn’t go on her Turks & Caicos trip and is instead on a last-minute research trip for her app. She continues to keep trying to start her car when Mike knocks her window and is like,” hey, let a MAN try that.” Amelia slides over and makes room for Mike, who slips into the truck and is like, “Trucks are sort of a man’s thing, you know. Little ladies like you probably don’t know how to do the complicated work of starting the ignition of a non-car.”. He then asks her why she came back and she’s like “it came to my attention that I might not understand Christmas” even though LITERALLY NO ONE EVEN SAID ANYTHING LIKE THAT TO HER. She learns that Mike is now Harry’s co-pilot, and suddenly looks crestfallen, even though she hasn’t been in Christmas Creek for, like, FIFTEEN YEARS. Mike tells her that Harry knows she didn’t have a choice in leaving…like literally any adult would be like, “Yeah, why didn’t my 13 YEAR OLD NEICE put her foot down so she could help pilot a plane for me on Christmas”?!?! She asks Mike how Uncle Harry’s been since they left, and Mike is like, “That’s family stuff” even though he literally JUST inserted himself into their family stuff, but I guess when you’re a rugged search & rescuer, you can just pick and choose what you involve yourself in. Finally he tells her that Uncle Harry had to give up a lot and hasn’t had a lot of time for anything but work, and Amelia is like “meaning Pamela” and Mike is like, “you know what’s fun? When someone suddenly comes back into town after being gone for more than a decade and then is like, “Catch me up on everything and also let me pry into your personal affairs.” He tries to change the subject by being all “let’s start this thing” and then he literally just TURNS THE KEY and the truck MAGICALLY starts.

Back at the cabin, Amelia starts going through old photographs and a childhood scrapbook of hers that shows that she ALSO was apparently into Amelia Earhart when she was younger. She scribbles a note that says “Looks like I was into Amelia Earhart waaaaay before you and oh yeah, did I mention that I was named after her?! Take THAT, SCOUT” and then hands the note to the Christmas Creek carrier pigeon to deliver to Scout’s home.

Flight of the Co-Pilots

Meanwhile, back in town, we find out that Scout and Mike Ruggels know each other! Whaaaat?!! You mean the cute and precocious girl Amelia ran into at the Christmas shop is somehow connected to someone else that Amelia knows? WHAT ARE THE CHANCES. Scout is like, “Do you think Uncle Harry will let me be the co-pilot for Fly-By Santa one day?” and Ruggels is like, “Not a chance, kid, that’s my job!”

“I know, I wanna be like you!” Scout points out. “There are lots of girls who are pilots.”

“Not any good ones,” Ruggles mutters under his breath.

“Do you think Dad will make it back in time for Christmas?” Scout asks.

Ruggels is like, “I don’t know, he’s working really hard to keep the country safe.” And at this point I descend into a diabetic coma, because if there’s anything that I like less than a sugary Christmas RomCom, it’s one with a saccharine patriotic-military angle. And then they joke around about how Ruggels is her #1 uncle, and Scout is like, you’re my ONLY uncle HAHAHAHAHAHA and then I silently but repeatedly stab a kitchen knife into some throw pillows.

Amelia is down by the docks, smoking a doobie and checking out Uncle Harry’s plane. She’s reacquainting herself with the control panel when Uncle Harry sneaks up on her and is like, “Thought you couldn’t remember?” Amelia’s like, “I was just playing around, sorry.” Uncle Harry tells her that he watched her come down there from his office, like that’s not a totally creepy thing for an Uncle to say. “Wanna come up?” Amelia asks, from the cockpit.

“Wow, thanks for inviting me into my own goddamn plane,” Uncle Harry replies, as he jumps in. They sit there, looking at the control panel, when Amelia mentions she ran into Pamela. Uncle Harry’s like, “wow, thanks for bringing that up, not a painful subject at all, why don’t we talk about your recent break-up, too, how’d you like that?” Amelia is like, “when did you two break up?” and Harry’s like, “a long time ago” and Amelia is like “because we left?” GOD NOT EVERYTHING IS ABOUT YOU AMELIA. Harry explains that it was the summer after everybody left: It was her birthday, but there was an “emergency” at the Inn, and he tried to make it up to her but it had happened before. “Pamela deserves someone who will make time for her,” Uncle Harry says.

“You know I saw that same regret in Pamela’s eyes today,” Amelia says. Uncle Harry’s like, “how about you?” And Amelia is like, “not anymore, his name was Brad, and he dumped me because I don’t really do big Family Christmases.” Uncle Harry’s like, “wow, sounds like a great guy, just like all the Brads out there, what a bummer that you’re not still with him.” Uncle Harry asks her if she’s hungry, and then he starts the plane and takes off.

BTW, have we talked about the fact that the roads are snowy enough that everyone NEEDS winter tires but the lake is warm enough that it doesn’t ever freeze over (otherwise how Could they do fly by santa every year)?!?!

The next day, Uncle Harry’s in town when he oh-so-conveniently runs into Pamela trying to bring out a heavy box of decorations. He rushes up to help her, and they stand there making small talk about Amelia being back in town. Some dude at a coffee cart is like, “YO HARRY, YOUR CHRISTMAS MOCHA IS READY” and Pamela is like, “Oh, cool, you got coffee from my competitor?” Harry is like, “You weren’t open and I don’t owe you anything anymore, REMEMBER?” Pamela’s like, “HAHAHA I was just joking.” Then Harry goes, “You know, Pamela…I was thinking-”

“OH MY GOD I FORGET THE BISCOTTIS ARE IN THE OVEN I BETTER GET BACK IN THERE!” Pamela says, interrupting him. “Oh, what were you going to say? Something important, it sounded like?!”

Harry’s like, “oh, no, you gotta get to your biscottis,” and Pamela’s like, “Yeah, BYE” and leaves him on the sidewalk.

Amelia shows up at the Gingerbread House contest when Scout is like, “Hey! Lady I barely know! You should come sit at our table!” and Amelia is like, “oh no I wouldn’t want to intrude.” Ruggels walks up and Scout gets the biggest surprise of her goddamn life when she figures out that Amelia knows “Uncle Mike” and Amelia figures out that Mike is Scout’s Uncle which means the Christmas gift shop is Elise’s, Mike’s sister, whom she obviously knows, because remember guys???? Mike and Amelia used to be BEST FRIENDS!!! But back to the gingerbread house contest: It’s the first stage of building and the official judging is at the tree lighting ceremony tomorrow night. Scout tells them to get started while she goes to get more stuff to decorate with, and Mike and Amelia joke about not having kids yet and Amelia conveniently drops that she just broke up with her boyfriend and usually goes to Turks & Caicos for Christmas, hashtag soft brag. Scout comes back to the table and is like, “Yo, someone over there has unicorn stables, we have to get really creative if we want to win, so stop being losers and start building, shitheads.” So they do!

Ruggels Has a Sister

Later, Ruggels and Scout bring their gingergread house back to the gift shop, where Scout’s mom and Ruggels’ sister is waiting. Scout is like, “did you know that Uncle Mike has a friend named after Amelia Earhart” (GOD, it’s not like her family KNEW the real Amelia Earhart?!) and Elise is like, “OMG, are we talking about Amelia Hughes?!” Ruggels is like, “it’s no big deal,” and Elise is like, “Au contraire, mon frére, you were, like, OBSESSED with her.” Mike is like, “she’s fine it’s normal” and Elise is like, “great then you can deliver this box to the Inn and get to work on your HORRIBLE flirting, ya loser.”

Amelia finds her Uncle at the Inn hanging stockings for returning guests and staff, which to Amelia seems like the most revolutionary idea she’s ever heard of. “Thoughtful with the element of surprise…” Her app investors would love this, she tells him, since they said her app took the thoughtfulness out of gift-giving which is why they passed on it, as if Uncle Harry could possibly care. Then she points out that he’s hanging stockings but he still doesn’t have a Christmas tree at the cabin. Uncle Harry is like, “GOD, get off my BACK with the CHRISTMAS TREE! If It matters so much to you, then why don’t you help me with it?!” Right at that very convenient moment, Mike comes strolling in with the box from his sister, complete with a little poinsettia for Amelia to put in her room. Uncle Harry, sensing a great opportunity to get both of them out of his hair, is like, “Cool, why don’t you help Amelia out with getting a Christmas tree?”

Amelia and Mike arrive at the Christmas tree lot, where they walk and flirt and then start remembering what it was like when they were kids. Mike picks out the biggest tree in the lot, and later we see Harry, Amelia, and Mike decorating the tree in the cabin. Amelia’s assistant calls and is like, “Do you want me to do my job since technically it’s still a working day?” and Amelia is like “It’s four days until Christmas, why are you at the office, shouldn’t you be spending time with your family?” and her assistant is like “What have you done with my boss??” and they’re both like “HAHAHAHAHA” and then I break a window. She goes back to tree decorating and Harry’s like, “Wow, thanks guys for helping me out with this Christmas tree I didn’t even want to get, how about some dinner on me?”

They end up at - whaddya know! - Pamela’s restaurant, where they joke about how shocked people are going to be to see Harry out and about. Get it?!? It’s funny because he works so much because he basically has to since Amelia’s family abandoned him and forced him to run the Inn all by himself, which also cost him one of the most important romantic relationships of his life! Speaking of, Pamela comes out and is like, “Wow, twice in one day? Aren’t I lucky!!!” when she sees Harry. Then Amelia mentions that the last time she was there was with her parents and her dad insisted on paying for everything, and Harry’s like, “That’s because he already knew he was leaving and he could tell I knew something was up” and everyone’s like, “WOW AMELIA THANKS FOR BRINGING THAT SUBJECT UP YET AGAIN.” And then we see Pamela at the piano, because I guess when you’re waiting tables at your own business you can let your guests go hungry if you wanna sing a song. She announces that this song is for an old friend who’s back in town…“Welcome home, Amelia.” And it’s just like how I always wanted it to be when I came back to the town my family moved away from when I was little, fantasizing that everyone would be all, “oh my god, The Carters are back!!!! Let’s throw them a parade!!!” but instead literally no one cared or even remembered who I was.

Later, Amelia and Mike walk out - Harry had to dash back to the Inn for another “emergency” - and they start speculating about how there’s still something between Harry and Pamela. Amelia is like, “why didn't you ever leave Christmas Creek, Mike, is it because you’re a loser” and Mike is like “I actually did leave, I went to Flight School but my dad got sick so I came back to be with him in his final days, thanks so much for bringing that up.” Then Mike explains that after his dad died, Harry became the closest thing he had to family - besides, you know, his sister who’s his actual family - and then his sister had Scout and then Scout’s dad had to go oversea and so here he is Christmas Creek, just waiting for his childhood best friend to suddenly reappear back into his life so he could hopefully get laid again at some point in his life.

Amelia mentions being able to see stars for the first time in forever (Remember?!?! Because she lives in the BIG CITY of CHICAGO?!?!), so Mike is like, “C’mere, let me show you something” and then the next thing we know, they’re back at the lodge and Mike is carrying the Inn’s telescope. A conversation about stars somehow segueways into Mike being a good person and Amelia getting into the app world. “I mean, look at you, you’re a hero,” Amelia tells Mike. “I help people buy things.” Amelia isn’t the girl she used to be - that girl had wide eyes and a sense of wonder! But Mike can get it back for her, and he proves it by telling her to look inside the telescope. She does and is like OOOOHHHH AAHHHHH STAAAARRRRS. Then a snowball hits her head and it’s time for a hilarious and adorable snow fight full of “You are going DOWN, RUGGELS!” and then they crash down into the soft snow where they make snow angels and then hold hands. GROOOOSSSSSSS.

Let’s Talk More About Amelia’s Dumb Family

Amelia comes back to the cabin to find Uncle Harry with a plate of gingerbread cookies, so she sits down and helps herself to one and they chat about how grandpa was a pilot and how her dad never quite took to it. He had a head for books and business while Harry had a head for the clouds! That’s why they fought so much - her dad wanted Harry to take the business more seriously while Harry was always more of a “showman.” “A regular Santa Claus,” he adds, like that makes any sense whatsoever. Amelia finally is like, “I still don’t know why we had to leave so suddenly on Christmas Eve” and so Harry tells her that when her dad got the offer to work somewhere else and told Harry he was leaving - it was right before Fly-By, btw, LOOKS LIKE GREAT TIMING RUNS IN THE FAMILY - and Harry was so angry and hurt he was like “if you’re leaving you might as well leave RIGHT. NOW!”

“Aaandd…” Harry adds, “I also had sex with your mom.”

Amelia’s like, “What was that?”

“Oh, nothing! More gingerbread cookies?” Harry offers. They tell each other that they missed each other and then they french kiss, because what if Uncle Harry isn’t her actual uncle after all? There’s no way to know something like that, and besides, it’s Christmas!

The next day, Harry’s packing sandwiches when Amelia comes down from her room. She was working on her app and now she needs a break! Harry’s like, “eat something and then meet me at the plane,” and Amelia’s all, “are we going flying again?” and Harry’s like “You know, flying costs gas and I don’t see you paying for it” and Amelia’s is like, “maybe I can make an app for that” and Harry’s like, “forget it, we’re gonna decorate the plane” and Amelia spins on her stool and squeals, “Just like old times!!!” Jesus, get some real lives, people of Christmas Creek.

Back at the gift shop, Mike is telling his sister all about his snowball fight with Amelia - really, really riveting stuff - and Elise is looking at him all googely-eyed and Mike is like “stop it” and Elise is like, “I just like seeing you happy…you spend all of your time taking care of your family and this town! You deserve love too.” Mike and literally everyone else in America is all, STAWP, and then, luckily for him, Scout’s dad calls from overseas and they all FaceTime with him. Scout asks her dad if he’s going to be home for Christmas and her dad is like “I’m going to try everything I can to be there-” BUT THEN SUDDENLY the connection is lost which is a bummer, I guess, if you like military stuff.

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Harry and Amelia are decorating the plane, and they’re talking about how Harry always loved flying, and then Amelia starts going on and on about how the people who turned down her app made her question everything and that she maybe doesn’t know what to do with her life. Harry is like, “it’s simple! Just find the thing that you love and it will all figure itself out!” Yeah, SO EASY!!!! Amelia tries to turn it back on him in terms of Pamela and he’s like, “YO CAN IT AMELIA,” and then they step back to survey their work. Mike comes up and Harry leaves and Mike is like “you ready to eat yet” to Amelia since that’s basically all they do there in Christmas Creek.

Romance, Thy Name Is Christmas Creek

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Later, Mike and Amelia are sitting by a fire outside - roasting chestnuts by an open fire, of course, because I don’t know if you know this BUT THIS IS CHRISTMAS CREEK GUYYYSSS - and Amelia is like, “do you ever wonder what our lives would have been like if I hadn’t moved?” Like the whole town revolved around her or something. Amelia talks about her family some more and mentions that she hasn’t even told her parents that she’s here. Mike is like, “it’s okay that you want to be here and I’m really glad that you are.” They have another moment when Amelia asks if he wishes he could ever go back and change that moment. “You mean that moment when you left?” Oh, I’m SURE he thinks about being able to change that moment all the time, being that he was THIRTEEN and COMPLETELY CAPABLE of stopping Amelia from MOVING AWAY WITH HER FAMILY. They’re about to kiss when Nathan interrupts with a phone call from Scout.

Harry finds Pamela at her restaurant, and they sit down for a drink. They do that thing where they both start talking at the same time HAHAHAHA. They reminisce about old times, she sits down at the piano while he stands there and watches her sing Auld Lang Syne, and then he sits down to join her and starts singing along with her and it’s kind of gross.

The next morning, Amelia wakes up to someone smashing snowballs at her window. Whaddya know, it’s Mike! he tells her to meet him in the lodge in 10 minutes. She shows up to find him wrapping all the toys for Fly-By Santa and offers to buy her lunch (Jesus, what’s with everyone in Christmas Creek offering to buy everyone else all these meals!?!?). They stroll over to Pamela’s for lunch, where they note that Pamela looks happier than usual, and then gab about whether or not Mike should get the steak for lunch. WOW CAN’T GET MUCH MORE INTERESTING THAN THIS. They Skol over lunchtime glasses of wine, and Mike tells her that he’s officiating the tree lighting that night. “You can be my date,” he tells her. “I mean, if you want to.” Amelia’s like, “Yeah sure, I guess, since I’m already in town and everything and Brad dumped me because I don’t understand Christmas and I probably don’t because of what happened between my family when I was 13.” Mike’s like, “Wow wow wow so glad I asked.”

Back at the lodge, Nathan answers Amelia’s phone which she obviously left by mistake - BUT ALSO, WHO ANSWERS SOMEONE ELSE’S CELL PHONE - and it’s obviously her parents because when he hands it over to Uncle Harry and Harry’s like, “Hi, hello, this is Uncle Harry to you and apparently everyone else in the universe”, the people on the other end immediately hang up.

When Amelia and Mike get back, Harry tells her what happened with her phone and Amelia is like, “Mom and Dad called?!!!?! They know their grown adult daughter made a decision on her own and decided to visit her long-lost uncle?!??! Oh my god what am I gonna dooooooo?!?!”

Family Reunion

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Amelia is trying to reach her parents via phone, and they’re not answering - great parents, BTW - when Mike finds her in the lodge. He tries to reassure her that everything is going to be okay, and she’s like don’t tell me it’s going to be okay you don’t know my life! Then she goes to find Uncle Harry, who’s splitting wood and they chat about stuff like how they’re all stubborn and how Amelia was just rude to Mike and he left. Once again, Amelia blames everything on what happened BACK WHEN SHE WAS 13, how it obviously made her start to push people away and Harry’s finally like, “will you just shut up with that mess, you didn’t lose Mike and you certainly haven’t lost me so just CAN IT ALREADY AMELIA.”

“I don’t really let people in,” Amelia insists, only NOBODY CARES.

The gingerbread house contest starts, and Amelia shows up to find Mike and Scout by their house. Amelia and Mike smile at each other, and then we see Harry bring Pamela a hot chocolate as she’s closing up her shop. Harry tells Pamela he wants a second chance, that he was so afraid that she was going to leave him - just like how his brother and his family left him!!! - that he pushed her away first but he’s sorry, blah blah blah. Pamela kisses him - and whaddya know, they’re right under the mistletoe! - and Harry’s like, “Yo, let’s go to this tree lightning before we do it” and Pamela’s like, “God, I thought you would never ask.”

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Mike starts emceeing the ceremonies. They light the tree - Mike catching eyes with Amelia right beforehand, because this is a MOVIE - and it’s like, wow, cool, it’s a lit up tree, alert the presses. Mike and Amelia walk up to each other and Amelia apologizes and then they try to kiss again but someone rings a bell meaning all the gingerbread house contest votes are tallied and guess who wins?????? You’ll never guess. C’mon, guess! Yeah, you’re right, it’s the only kid in this entire movie that we know the name of - it’s Scout!

Back at the lodge, everyone walks in to find Amelia’s mom and dad waiting for them. WOWWOWOWOW WHAT’S GONNA HAPPEN?!?!?! Hopefully it’s a fist fight!

Let’s Talk About Amelia’s Family Some More Won’t That Be So Great

Sitting around the fire, the whole family plus Mike make small talk about apple cider and where Amelia’s parents are going to stay for the night. Pamela announces that Christmas dinner is almost ready, so they all sit down around the table and Amelia’s mom says some stuff about Christmas and smörgåsbords and how she’s missed this and everyone sort of rolls their eyes or maybe that’s just me. Mike says something about how this is so great and Harry’s like “well you’ve always been there for me” and Amelia’s dad, Danny, pipes in to make it about him because apparently that ALSO runs in the family and so he’s like “is that supposed to mean I haven’t been there for you?!?!” and it’s like WHAT IS IT WITH THIS FAMILY AND THEIR OBSESSIVE NEED TO MAKE EVERYTHING ABOUT THEIR FAMILY DYSFUNCTION!?!?! Harry’s like, “uh, those are your words,” and then he and Danny get into an argument about how Danny felt like he was one doing all the work and they were still barely scraping by so he had to make a choice to support his family and Harry’s like, “yeah, cool, you made a choice to move across the country and abandon the Inn and me you selfish prick” and then Amelia is finally like, “Will you please both just stop, if you’re fighting like this I can’t make everything about how this all effected ME.” Amelia’s dad is like “By the way, AMELIA, why didn’t you tell your parents that you were spending Christmas here? I had to find out from the bell hop?” and Nathan calls out, “Um, RUDE - I’m I’m actually the DESK CLERK ya dick!” Amelia’s like, “I didn’t tell you because I knew you would act like this, which is a CHILD!” So she storms out and then Mike storms after her and then Amelia’s dad leaves and then so does her mom, leaving Pamela and Harry to sit there sadly and hold hands.

Mike finds Amelia in her room, packing. He tells her she doesn’t have to leave, and she’s like, “you don’t get it, BYE” and leaves him standing there and then Mike is like, “Yeah, I guess this time leaving IS YOUR FAULT, AMELIA.”

The next day Amelia’s mom and dad come down to the lobby and are like, “Yo where’s our adult daughter” and Harry’s like “uh, maybe you should know the answer to that question and not me” and so the mom goes off to figure out where Amelia is. Harry and Danny, Amelia’s dad, have a moment where Danny’s like “You did this all by yourself, wow wow wow” and Harry’s like “yeah, now go ahead and point out everything wrong with it” and Danny’s like “no it’s great our parents would be proud by the way I lost that job in San Francisco which is why I had to move to Chicago but now they’ve replaced me with some fresh faced kid which I’m sure won’t come up again” and then Amelia’s mom comes back and says Amelia apparently spent the night at Pamelas’.

Amelia is at Pamela’s restaurant where she thanks her for letting her stay the night and then Pamela gives her an envelope of photographs because apparently they still use disposable cameras and 24-hour Photo in Christmas Creek, and something about the photographs gives Amelia a brilliant idea!!! SO she lays them all out like they’re going to help solve a puzzle or form a treasure map to a Christmas treasure trove and then she calls the investor of her app and is like “Hi I know it’s Christmas Eve but I have a great idea that I want to share with you right away, can’t wait, hope you weren’t doing anything important with your family or anything!!!”

She tells him that she thinks the app will be a charity that will bring people together so no one has to spend Christmas alone. “It’s about the gift that matters the most…being PRESENCE rather than presents, get it?? Do you get that play on words?!!?!” And the investor is like charities don’t make MONEY, AMELIA. JK he’s like “I think that’s exactly what we’ve been looking for let’s sit down AFTER Christmas to talk about your CHRISTMAS app because timing means nothing in Silicon Valley!!!!”

Pamela comes back with a box full of presents for Fly-By Santa and is like “before you blow town like a total jerk maybe you should go deliver these to Mike and stop being such a wuss.” Amelia’s like, “wow you’re right thank you so much Pamela!!!!”

Let’s Make Up & Hopefully Make Out

Amelia is at the cabin when she hears her mom call out for her. “I’m here!” she replies. “Honey, you’re here,” Her dad says. “YEAH NO SHIT I JUST SAID I WAS HERE,” Amelia says, under her breath. Apparently they were really worried about her, even though she’s a grown adult and can spend the night alone without them now. Uncle Harry comes in, and Amelia asks them all to have a seat. Amelia tells her parents that Harry puts up stockings for all the return guests, acting again like it’s the most revolutionary and brilliant idea on the planet, and then tells them about her new idea for the app, which all stems from the fact that there are people out there who would die to spend Christmas with a family AND YET HERE WE ARE, A FAMILY WHO HAVE TURNED THEIR BACKS ON EACH OTHER WHEN THEY NEEDED EACH OTHER THE MOST WOW WOW WOW DO YOU GUYS GET WHAT I’M SAYING OR AM I GOING TO HAVE TO TAKE YOU ALL TO DINNER AT PAMELA’S SO IT SINKS IN?!?

She compliments both her dad and Harry and is like, “you’re both great guys who are more the same than you are different, blah blah blah” and then is like “if we don’t have each other then what do we have.” Danny and Harry stand up and hug each other, and then everyone laughs and hugs and apologizes and it’s really annoying. Harry offers Danny a job as the CFO of the Inn so they can run it the way their mom and dad intended: As a FAMILY! Danny’s like, “oh my god thank you for reminding me that I’m unemployed I’ll take it!” Amelia is like, “this family stuff is great but there’s this hot guy I need to make up with in order to bring this story full circle so I’m bouncing.” But not before Harry’s like, “Uh, before you go, I have a little proposition for you.” WHAT COULD IT BE?!! DOES IT HAVE SOMETHING TO DO WITH FLY-BY SANTA?!!?

Amelia finds Mike in town, where she tells him that he’s always been her best friend but now he’s so much more than that!!!! He’s the brightest light she knows and she can’t lose him again. “I love you, Mike Ruggels.” Um, really?!? You’ve known him as an adult for THREE days and you’re already in love with him?! They kiss and Mike is like, “I’ve been waiting 17 years to do that” and I’m like, what kind of best friends were you guys when you were 13?!?! Also, Mike, have you ever heard of Facebook? It’s this really great internet tool that lots of people, including me, have used to stalk their childhood crushes. It could have probably saved you at least 10 years of waiting. Mike tells Amelia that he loves her and he always has. She looks at the tree and is like, “wow, that’s a lot of presents” and then Mike’s like, “they’re not as big as the present I’ve got for you in my pants” and she’s like, “what?” and he’s like, “JK let’s talk more about flying planes for Christmas.”

Later that night, everyone’s gathered in the town square again and surprise!!!! Scout’s dad is home for Christmas, a twist NONE of us saw coming!!

Amelia and Mike are at the plane, loading it up for presents, and they’re like, “are we ready to fly this plane or just talk about it for another two days” and Amelia’s like, “not yet, let me give you this framed photograph of us at the town square last night, I got it developed at the 24 Hour Photo” and Mike is like, “wow, would’ve been better if you were naked in this but I guess it’s okay.” He gives her a Christmas Angel and she’s like “wow a Christmas Angel” and he’s like “you’ll always be my angel” and she’s like “I’m also a multi-dimensional woman with thoughts and feelings and maybe you should stop putting me on a pedestal.” Then she starts talking about how they can totally do this long distance thing but he kisses her to make her stop talking which is supposed to be romantic but is actually really insulting but none of that matters because now they’re both the Fly-By Santa - he’s Santa and she’s Mrs. Claus and wow wow wow they fly over the town and everyone starts singing “we wish you a merry Christmas” which is cool but we also didn’t see any presents being dropped which HELLO I thought that was the whole point of Fly-By Santa?!?!? But no matter! They fly toward an unnaturally large moon and that’s the end!


Want more of this great, intellectually-stimulating content? I’m working hard on more A Very Carter Christmas movie-recap installments, so don’t miss a single one of ‘em by subscribing to my email!

You should also follow me on Instagram, where I’ll be posting LOTS of fun stuff for Christmas in the next couple of weeks, both on my feed and on my Stories (is anyone else as delighted as me that “I gotta watch my Stories” is now a modern thing instead of just something your grandma used to say when she wanted to watch her favorite soap operas?!?)

AND, if you’re looking for some fun, sustainable, nostalgic-themed gifts for your friends (or yourself), check out the new-to-you pop culture Christmas swag over at Pop Rocks Vintage!

Kiss kiss!

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Your friend, Amber