From The Side of the Road… annual bluegrass Christmas movies for Hallmark

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I’ll admit that I occasionally watch Hallmark Christmas movies, or parts of them, mainly because I want to see how they’ll choose to retell the “single father/architect meets event planner at Christmas when they’re both accidentally booked at the same quaint inn” story. 

Admitting that wasn’t easy, and now that I have, I feel a great weight has been lifted. I feel like putting up a Christmas tree now.

I’ve recently discovered the Hallmark-style Christmas movie, Christian version. In the one I saw, there was the same single-father-with-daughter scenario, the single professional woman who has recently broken up with her boyfriend (his idea), an inn needing renovation, a cookie baking scene, etc., but with God and the woman’s deceased grandmother seeming to have a direct hand in events (the grandmother lending a touch of the occult to the plot), and non-existent scripture being cited. The traditional kiss after the cookie scene was just a long hug.

For the last two years, I’ve provided possible plots for Hallmark-esque Christmas movies with a bluegrass theme, casting a blend of Hallmark actors and bluegrass musicians. Now it’s officially a tradition and I can’t stop. Critics have called this a feeble attempt at a bluegrass cash-grab, to which I say, “guilty as charged.” Besides, I figure if there can be Christian Hallmark movies, we deserve a few bluegrass versions, too.

In keeping with annual tradition, then, here are three more “treatments” for potential Hallmark bluegrass Christmas movies. Note: for the uninitiated, you may have to Google some of these actors’ names. If you’re not normally a bluegrass fan, you may have to Google all of the names.

A Christmas Banjo

An event planner (Alison Brown) is hired to manage a small town’s annual Christmas festival and gingerbread house contest. She travels to the quaint village set in the Appalachians (which look very much like the Canadian Rockies) right after breaking up with her boyfriend who was clearly wrong for her (and everybody else). She clashes with the wealthy event sponsor (Kevin McGarry) when she proposes bringing in a bluegrass band as entertainment. He’s raising a young daughter alone, his wife having died two years earlier in a tragic curling accident. With the help of a kindly banjo player no one has ever seen before (Greg Cahill), he softens his position and eventually invites the event planner to his log home that he renovated himself. They make a gingerbread house together and romance blooms. The banjo player turns out to be an angel, who eventually lends his banjo to the woman and she becomes a phenomenal player in just a week. The sponsor compromises and agrees to have a bluegrass band at the festival as long as they finish playing by 3:00 in the afternoon. The publicist and the angel sit in with the band in the closing performance of Christmas Time’s a-Comin’.

Christmas in Rocky Ridge

Young architect (Billy Strings) has been hired to plan the rebuilding of an historic-but-rundown lodge in scenic Rocky Ridge, Virginia. He recently broke up with his girlfriend in the city (Sarah Jarosz) who just didn’t share his passion for Christmas and old historic-but-rundown lodges. When he arrives in Rocky Ridge, he finds that the owner of the lodge (Jill Wagner) has her own ideas about the lodge’s renovation. She had inherited the lodge from her grandfather, who communicates his plans for the lodge to her in her dreams. Though there is initial conflict, the architect bonds with the lodge owner’s young son Skippy who explains that his dad “flew to Thailand one day and never came back.” The architect and lodge owner bond while baking Christmas cookies. Her grandfather (who looks very much like Santa Claus) appears to be smiling at them from a framed picture in the kitchen.

A Christmas Fire

A small mountain town, Windy Crest, hires a publicist from the city (Missy Raines) to find a way to draw tourists during the Christmas season. She is accidentally booked into the same luxurious room as a handsome lawyer and part time architect (Andrew Walker). After some argument, she gives the room to him since he is also a single father staying there with his daughter. The lawyer has become a Christmas cynic because his wife had died the previous Christmas eve in a tragic cookie food poisoning incident. The publicist bonds with his daughter, though, and they gradually restore her father’s Christmas spirit. When accidentally walking into his room while he’s changing strings on his guitar, the publicist is charmed to find out that beneath the hard lawyer/architect exterior there’s a sensitive musician waiting to be drawn out. In a dramatic turn, while they’re out for a walk around Windy Crest, a fire engulfs the Inn and the two put their heads together to arrange a Christmas music festival as a fundraiser for the inn. Joined by the common cause, they fall in love. While baking Christmas cookies in what’s left of the inn’s kitchen, they discover that not only is the kindly inn owner (Darren Nicholson) a musician, but the publicist herself is an accomplished bass player. They burn the cookies but have a great jam session, and it’s agreed that they will form a band to headline their own festival, which they call Bluegrass at Windy Crest — a Christmas Celebration. They raise more money than they need in the first year and donate the rest to a fund they start for victims of cookie-borne food poisoning.

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