A Veteran’s Christmas
Synopsis (via Hallmark)
Captain Grace Garland, a decorated US veteran, returns home after two tours of Search and Rescue in Afghanistan. After being separated from her beloved K9 partner, Grace must rediscover the magic of Christmas. When Grace finds herself stranded in the town of River’s Crossing a couple weeks before Christmas, the local judge, Joe Peterson, offers her a place to stay on his property and takes it upon himself to show Grace everything she has been missing: Christmas, family, community, and love.
Grace Garland is back from two tours in Afghanistan at Christmas time, with no one there to greet her. While driving in the snow, she gets a flat tire and runs into a snowbank. Dazed and confused, a dog comes to her rescue and brings her to the home of a handsome stranger. The stranger fixes her wounds and makes her some Earl Grey tea, while listening to classical Christmas music. Turns out the dog’s name is Justice, and the handsome stranger’s name is Joe.
Lucky for Grace, Rivers Crossing, Washington, has a car repair shop. Grace is stranded in town for three weeks. With no holiday plans nor a place to go, Joe offers to put Grace up in the cabin behind his house. The cabin is adorable—and so is Joe. He tells her that he is the town judge and invites her to church in the morning..
The next morning, Joe’s sister (a red-headed Canadian) brings over proper clothing for Grace to wear to church. The sister is a pill, as they say. Everyone in town seems to be related to Joe. At church, everyone is curious about Grace and ready to set them up together. Grace is a bit overwhelmed by all the civilian life. Joe offers Grace his car to head back home and decompress. The sparks are flying in their relationship, but Grace misses her dog, Christmas, and cries in the car.
On her way home, Grace gets pulled over by the town sheriff for going 35 in a 25. He gives her a hard time until Joe and his mom pull up and get her off the hook. Turns out the Sheriff is Joe’s friend, Cooper. They go to an army base and load up trees for vets. We get some back story about Grace’s time in the field—turns out her dog saved her from enemy fire. She was at war for six years and is beginning to realize that her dog, Christmas, isn’t hers anymore.
Joe and Grace go to lunch, and she wonders why he would be a judge in such a small town when he is so amazing at his job. Joe tells her that he has applied to a new job in Chicago. While they are leaving lunch we learn that Joe used to be engaged but got dumped for the town’s former prosecutor. The ex-fiance is back in town and now single…..
Grace is struggling to adapt to civilian life. She is more interested in hanging with Joe’s dog than be around people. Joe takes Grace to set up for the Annual Christmas Potluck. They decorate the town for the festival and go ice skating. I thought it was going to be another typical scene, but then JOE’S EX-FIANCE SHOWS UP. (A Jr Olympic Figure Skater, named Marnie.) Marnie does tricks on the ice and wants Joe back. She apologizes for leaving Joe for another man. Grace sees them reunite and is heartbroken.
Joe turns it around and tells Grace that he doesn’t have feelings for the figure skater. They go and help his mom decorate her house and then head to the tree lighting festival. Grace gets brought up on stage to light the tree. This tree lighting is the best of the season so far and Grace seems genuinely happy.
Grace is very grateful that Joe has taken her in at Christmas and is overwhelmed by his generosity. She can’t understand why he would want to leave this town. We get an emotional monologue about Grace’s childhood and how she was raised by her grandfather (her parents died before she could remember them).
While Grace is out shopping with Joe’s too-much sister, they see Joe meeting up with Marnie. To take her mind off it, Joe’s sister takes Grace to get her nails done. The two connect and open up to one another. Katie is a divorcee and single mom (pretty ballsy for Hallmark). When Grace confronts Joe about Marnie, he mentions that “they just ran into each other.” Grace isn’t buying it and goes to check on her car the next day.
At the Christmas festival, Grace and Joe go on carousel ride and fall back in love. Grace helps Joe’s niece get over stage fright by telling her, “Bravery is doing what you’re afraid to do.” Joe will also have to do what he is afraid to do: accept the job in Chicago. He gets appointed to the district court and immediately tells Grace and his niece (who freaks out and tells him not to take the job).
Damn, Marnie won’t leave Joe alone and calls to tell him some news. Grace overhears half the conversation where Joe tells Marnie, “He loves her for doing this for him,” and Grace runs off crying and packing her things. Grace leaves the cottage and writes a note to Joe wishing him the best in Chicago. She says goodbye to Justice and heads to the bus station. Sheriff Cooper tries to stop her but she runs off and gets on the bus. Sheriff Cooper chases after the bus and pulls it over to get Grace off the bus and back to Joe. He brings her to the barn for the potluck.
At the potluck the whole family is there and the barn is decorated beautifully. Joe tells Grace that he is crazy about her and he isn’t going to Chicago. Turns out Joe was working with Marnie and her Colonel-father to get Christmas (Grace’s dog) back from the military and retired. Grace takes the job in town to create a search and rescue operation in the town. Joe and Grace kiss, but is doesn’t really live up to the tension that they had throughout the film.
Grace has no clothing? This was weird. Why did she have to borrow so many clothes from Joe’s sister?
🎄🎄🎄 (3 Christmas Trees)
🍷🍷🍷 (3 glasses of wine required)
*Photo Credit: © 2018 Crown Media United States, LLC