What do you get when a self-proclaimed tree whisperer and a “Christmas nerd” bond and clash (and then bond again) over the town’s legendary, iconic, and perfect tree? A whole bunch of crossed signals and a completely heartwarming movie! Lifetime’s Under The Christmas Tree, airing December 19th at 8 PM ET has everything you expect — and a few things you didn’t — in a holiday movie.
Note: This post is sponsored by Lifetime but the opinions are 100% my own.
Alma (Elise Bauman) is in the process of taking over her family’s Christmas shop in Camden, Maine. And by “family’s Christmas shop” I mean it’s basically Santa’s workshop. The place is bursting with Christmas, and Alma is happy to be the head elf. With reindeer antlers firmly in place, she cheerfully instructs her employees (also in reindeer antlers) to take special care with their wrapping because every customer should feel “like Santa wrapped them himself.”
Under The Christmas Tree Premieres on Lifetime on December 19th at 8 PM ET
Meanwhile, Charlie (Tattiawna Jones) is outside scouting a perfect Christmas tree with her trusty co-worker and sidekick Rohan (Shawn Ahmed). They work for the Governor’s office and it’s their job to find the official tree for the Maine State Capitol. Other than that, we aren’t sure what they do for the Governor, but we do know this job of finding the tree is a very, very important one. Like, they’ve been scouting for trees by chopper and drone to find one. And the one they’ve decided on? The perfect tree that they must cut down? It’s in Alma’s yard, naturally.
I’m not sure I need to fill in any more blanks for you here — I know you’re all well-versed in your holiday movie tropes — but grab a mug of hot cocoa and a perfectly frosted sugar cookie because this movie is so cute I’m going to do it anyway.
First: The Meet Cute. When Alma and her best friend/pastry chef, Marie (Ricki Lake) — who just happens to have a bakery in Camden, of course — discover that Charlie and Rohan were the ones with the pesky drone, they immediately stalk over to demand some answers. Almost as immediately? Alma’s tongue gets tied in knots when she locks eyes with Charlie and the sparks fly between the two of them. She bumbles her way through the conversation adorably (antler ears still in place) as Rohan and Marie bond over hard-to-pronounce French delicacies.
Second: The conflict. Alma’s parents (played by Enrico Colantoni and Wendy Crewson) are also instantly smitten with Charlie and agree to let the Governor have the sacred tree. Alma, however, is a hard no. That tree is a “symbol of hope” for the entire town — everyone has a story about it! People played under it as kids! People have gotten engaged under it! Alma plans to get married under it! (Foreshadowing much?) Can Charlie’s sneaky tactics (of which there will be several) change Alma’s mind?
Third: The romantic tension. In this case, tension is a good thing, and Alma’s parents (Enrico Colantoni and Wendy Crewson) see it and are here for it from the start, just like we are. “That Charlie is something,” says Alma’s dad. “Do you think she’s gay?” Climb aboard the emotional roller-coaster and buckle up, because the undeniable attraction combined with the brewing conflict is sure to make this a bumpy ride.
Fourth: A nail-biting, madcap gingerbread house contest. You knew there had to be one. (Spoiler alert: There’s also a tree-lighting, but that comes later.)
Fifth: The chemistry, the flirting, and the double entendres. It’s all real, it’s adorable, and it’s refreshing to see it developed so naturally between two women:
Alma: You never give up, do you?
Charlie: Not when I find something I really like.
There is no denying their attraction toward each other, and it’s so believable. If only that darn “symbol of hope” wasn’t in their way!
Charlie: So White Christmas made you gay?
Alma: Uh, yeah. And a thousand other little girls…and guys.
Sixth: An owl named Kris Kringle who just might save the day. See? I told you there’d be some unexpected things.
At the risk of giving anything else away, I’ll stop there, but suffice it to say this movie isn’t just about a disagreement over a Christmas tree or saving a company. Like all great holiday movies, Under The Christmas Tree is about so much more. It’s about making hard, grown-up decisions (Alma has a few doozies concerning the company), staying true to yourself and your heart, and, of course, finding joy in love, which is the biggest gift of all.
Under the Christmas Tree airs December 19th at 8 PM ET on Lifetime.
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