Starring: Jill Wagner and Lucas Bryant
Summary: A writer seeks the identity of the person who helps grant wishes that are placed upon the angel tree, and in the process, reconnects with her childhood friend.
Jill Wagner and Lucas Bryant play the perfect couple in Hallmark’s The Angel Tree.
Image: Crown Media
A Little Christmas Mystery
At Christmastime, some kids make a wish on Santa’s lap while others write him a letter or leave him a wish list–picture Sally from A Charlie Brown Christmas dictating her list. She says, “Please note the size and color of each item, and send as many as possible. If it seems too complicated, make it easy on yourself: just send money. How about tens and twenties?” Santa always seems to know what a kid really wants, no matter how long the list, and he’s been delighting kids on Christmas morning for eons.
Pine River is where Rebecca McBride grew up, and it’s a place where granting wishes at Christmas doesn’t fall on Santa alone. For over 40 years, an “Angel” has been snatching wishes from the town’s Christmas tree and making them a reality.
Rebecca is a writer, and her promotion depends on uncovering the identity of “Angel.” It’s a tough assignment because she is skeptical. When Rebecca was a kid and her dad decided to move the family to Georgia, she made a wish to stay in Pine River forever. Her closest friend, Matthew Anderson, wished for his dad’s diner to be saved from financial ruin.
Matthew’s wish came true, but Rebecca’s didn’t. It deeply wounded her. How could Angel grant everyone’s wishes, but not hers? She was crushed from disappointment. Her belief in the magical and miraculous wonders of Christmas died that day.
Haven’t we all been there are some point? It looks different for everyone. Maybe all your friends have gotten married or have awesome careers, but you can’t find true love or your dream job. You want to start a family, but you can’t get pregnant. You join an exercise program, but you’re the only one who doesn’t lose weight. It’s hard to watch everyone else getting the very thing you’ve been hoping for. It can pose a real challenge to our faith. When we lose hope, we lose the magic of the anticipation.
Good news–there’s always hope! Sometimes it may seem elusive for a season, but if we search hard enough, we can find it again.
Rebecca soon discovers Matthew has connections with Angel, but he won’t give her any leads. In fact, as Rebecca interviews various recipients of Angel’s generosity, they share their stories, but they won’t give her any clues either…at Matthew’s behest.
Angel clearly wants to remain anonymous.
Did you figure out Angel’s mysterious identity before it was revealed? Let us know in the poll below!
Matthew now manages his family’s diner, but he dreams of opening his own coffee business. The names he bestows on each of his brews are quite creative:
- Java the Hut
- Espresso Yourself
- It’s Beginning to Look a Latte Like Christmas
- Grounded for Life
Who wouldn’t want to try one of those fun-sounding coffees?
Matthew is very humorous throughout the whole movie. He and Rebecca engage in a lot of playful banter, which lends to their wonderful chemistry, and they soon realize they have something magical between them apart from childhood memories.
Cassie does wonders in bringing Owen out of his shell in The Angel Tree. Image: Crown Media
The only thing holding Matthew back from pursuing his coffee business is his nephew, Owen. Matthew’s sister is deployed, so he’s conflicted about embarking on a new venture when Owen needs his entire focus. As you know, kids are often much more resilient than they are given credit for, and Owen not only encourages his uncle to take the risk, he happily agrees to help with the new business.
Too Many Wishes
Rebecca’s story on Angel has unexpected consequences. The uplifting human interest story about a mysterious person granting Christmas wishes draws an unprecedented crowd to Pine River. Rather than the annual average of 50 wishes on the tree for Angel to fulfill, the tree is flooded with more wishes than one person could possibly grant.
Time for team work!
Rebecca and Matthew rally the town. Through a coordinated and organized effort, they manage to get the job done.
Rebecca doesn’t want anyone to experience the hurt and disillusionment she did as a child when her wish wasn’t granted, and she anticipates Owen experiencing just that. His wish is for his military mom to come home for Christmas, but it seems an impossible hope.
With a little Hallmark magic, nothing is impossible. Turns out, a past journalistic assignment in the area where Owen’s mom is stationed provides Rebecca with the right strings to pull–a Christmas miracle!
As a person of faith, I struggled a little with this movie initially. When a person needs hope or a miracle, our focus shouldn’t be on angel trees or other people, but on God. We aren’t to put our faith or trust in anything or anyone else.
Still, could wishes on the angel tree serve as metaphors for prayer? While some of the wishes are for material possessions, like toys, many others concern situations that would require divine intervention. Often times, God uses His church, the body of believers, as His hands and feet on the Earth. We see this in the form of Aunt Mimi’s “Angel Squad.”
Rebecca comes full circle. It might have taken years to come to pass, but her angel tree wish to stay in Pine River forever is finally granted. Even though she won’t reveal the identity of Angel, she is still given a column and returns to her roots, along with her daughter, Cassie.
How Do You Make Your Own Christmas Magic?
One line from The Angel Tree is, adults have to make magic for themselves.
Remember being a kid at Christmas? The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas morning seemed like an eternity. As busy adults, we blink, and the month gap is gone faster than milk and cookies by the fireplace.
As a kid, Santa, his reindeer, and the elves heighten the magic and the excitement of the season. But, as classic singers like Perry Como have crooned regarding Toyland—once you pass its borders, you may never return again.
What do you do at Christmastime to recreate the magic? For some of us, it’s a special church event, attending the Nutcracker or a performance of Handel’s Messiah, driving through a lights display, listening to Christmas music and watching our favorite holiday movies, volunteering to help those in need, donating to Toys for Tots or the Salvation Army, or spending extra time with family.
In the comments section below, share what YOU do each year to make a little Christmas magic for yourself!
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Jill Wagner and Lucas Bryant are definitely ornery in this movie and look like they had a lot of fun! Image: Crown Media