Christmas Joy (2018 Hallmark Channel) (12).jpg

Christmas Joy

Stars: Danielle Panabaker & Matt Long

Listen to the Lifetime Uncorked Podcast here!

Synopsis (via Hallmark)

Joy Holbrook is an intuitive market researcher in DC who has captured the attention of the account’s CEO and is about to get a sweet promotionjust in time for the holidays. She receives an urgent phone call from home and she rushes back to Crystal Falls, NC,  to help her Aunt recover from surgery and is reunited with her former crush, Ben. To keep her Aunt focused on healing, Joy volunteers to take Ruby’s place in the town’s legendary baking competition, the “Cookie Crawl”much to the amusement of Ben who knows Joy has absolutely no idea of the Herculean task before her. Though Joy initially refuses Ben’s attempts to “co-captain,” she begins to soften and let him in, all the while remembering that there truly is no place like home.


Joy works for a marketing firm who has a big client, Weatherton’s. She runs focus groups with about as many minorities are in a typical Hallmark movies. Good thing Joy happens to be in a department store so she can go shopping for dresses for the company gala. While looking at a mannequin wearing a Lady Gaga (circa 2009 wig), Joy is approached by Poppy Weatherton and may be recruited for an expansion outside the DC area.

Aunt Ruby, back in North Carolina, is decorating for Christmas and admiring her Golden Wreath trophy from the Cookie Crawl. Aunt Ruby needs a box high on the stack and climbs a ladder stepping on the TOP STEP that read “Caution, don’t step on this step, Ruby!!!” but she does anyway and get injured. (We don’t see her fall, this isn’t Lifetime.)

Joy abandons her work responsibilities and goes to check on her Aunt Ruby, she is the only family that Joy has. She dries from DC to Crystal Falls, NC. (In her business casual skirt suit and heels.) On her way into the hospital Joy runs into Ben, or rather, gets tangled in Christmas lights and romantically bumps into Ben.  

Ben is a hospital administrator and helps his Aunt Ruby with the Cookie Crawl every year. To spend more time together Joy “accidently” backs her car into his in the snowy parking lot. Ben gives Joy advice on a good repairman and a long glance as she drives off.

Since she is back in town, Joy wears her Crystal Lake High School Hoodie and galivants around town. She pets farm animals and hang out at Main St. Coffee. Aunt Ruby is out of commission and can’t plan the Cookie Crawl, so Joy volunteers. Ben tells her it is not a one-person job and offers to help—which she refuses because she works at a marketing job in DC and doesn’t need help. After reviewing the event setup forms, looking through decorations, and checking back in with her boss (who is a bit too understanding), Joy offers to PAY for a consultation with Ben, because she might be in over her head. Ben is insulted by the offer because it is something his ex-wife might do…. EX WIFE?!?!

Ben comes crawling back, or Cookie Crawling back, when his judge for the Gingerbread Contest has her baby early and cannot complete her judging duties. In exchange for Joy  judging the contest, Ben offers to help her with the Cookie Crawl. Is this confusing? Don’t worry they will explain the difference between The Cookie Crawl and the Gingerbread Contest, like 10 more times.

We finally get our BAKING TIME! At first Joy is Skyping with her POC BFF, and I’m bored. Then Ben shows up and I’m hopeful for a flour fight…which doesn’t happen. At this point, I throw my TV out my window.

While having a very high stakes conversation about Christmas Tradition being classic or played out, she calls him Captain Christmas. Ben breaks Joy’s dead mother’s favorite Christmas ornament. Joy says it is fine, but we all know it isn’t.

To apologize for all the things Ben is making Joy do, he takes her out to dinner.  Ben’s parents are also at the same dinner and wonder if him and Joy are dating. Ben says he won’t date another girl from the citylike Anne. He knows to stay in his lane. His mother’s response: “If you never leave your lane the scenery can get pretty boring.”

This meddling mother is really NOT staying in her lane. She tells Joy that she used to work at a law firm and everything was needed ASAP. She was running all the time and not getting anywhere. Then she has the balls to tell Joy to quit her job.

Ice skating happens! Then Ben and Joy go to the woods where he has a confession to make; he admits that he goes into the woods and listens to trees. Ben likes to do that when he needs to clear his head. While walking awkwardly in the fake snow, Joy finds a birds nest and is inspired. Her theme proposal? “Mother Nature, about how we’re all bound together by nature, just like Christmas. We’re all together.” Ben seems to think it is fine. They decorate a Christmas Tree together and almost kiss, but Ben makes it awkward and just straight-up leaves.

Rejected, Joy goes to the freezer to eat brownies and leaves the door open. The next day she realizes that the cookie dough has gone bad and she will need to make more by herself, because it is so awkward of her to ask ben. Good thing Aunt Ruby calls Ben and the white people of the town to help bake cookies. Insert here a baking montage with “Jingle Bells” in which everyone is baking and dancing around.

At the Gingerbread Contest, Joy’s marketing skills are put to good use. She uses a blind voting system, and somehow Ben and his mom WIN!

Joy still has the gala for her work and has to drive up to DC. Before she goes, Ben gives Joy a Christmas presentin case she decides to stay in DC and not come back for the Cookie Crawl the next day. He is very insecure. To clear his head, Ben heads to the woods to listen to the trees. Thankfully, his dad is there and gives him advice which basically amounts to, “go for Joy!”

On her way off to the gala, Joy opens Ben’s present. It is a repurposed Christmas heart ornament with fragments of her mother’s broken ornament!

At the gala, Poppy Weatherton tells Joy that she know she did all the work for her account, but she won’t be staying with Joy’s marketing firm. Joy’s boss is pissed and I’ve not realized that Joy didn’t work at Weatherton’s at all! Joy quits her job to be in Crystal Falls.

Ben rushes up to the gala and sees Joy celebrating with her friend. He assumes that Joy is celebrating her big promotion and being away from him (he is insecure). Ben get mistaken for a waiter and he is out of there. Joy chases after him but he is gone. She rummages through her purse for her phone, pushes the heart ornament out of the way, and gets no response from Ben.

The night of the Cookie Crawl, everyone shows up! Including Joy’s DC POC friend, the whole town and Poppy Weatherton! Poppy offers Joy a job in Charlotte (which she accepts) as the in-house marketing researcher, and she LOVES the cookie crawl. When Ben shows up, Joy looks pissed. They go outside and hash things out and kiss as Mariah Carey’s “Joy to the World” plays.

Side Note

If it snowed that much in NC, everything would be shut down.

Based on the book by St. Martin’s Griffin

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Overall rating

🎄🎄🎄(3 Christmas Trees)

🍷🍷🍷 (3 glasses of wine required)

*Photo Credit: © 2018 Crown Media United States, LLC

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