Maggie Baker (Jessy Schram) is a Christmas lovin’, television show producin’, independent woman! She
- works for lifestyle guru Julia Wise
- doesn’t have time to date
- values innovation over tradition.
It’s Maggie’s first year as the head producer of Julia Wise’s Christmas Special, and she’s decided that they’re going to make it a live show! Sounds like a nightmare to me (no one let me near live television unless you want me to slip in a pile of my vomit), but she is bolder and braver and cooler than I, and wants to try something different.
Because the show is live, she cannot go home and celebrate with her extremely Christmassy parents. She is sad about this, but she believes that Julia Wise’s Christmas Special is a worthwhile sacrifice.
(I’m sorry, I never thought I’d make a Bill O’Reilly reference)
Julia Wise (Teryl Rothery) is basically Martha Stewart when she was just roasting ducks and not celebrities on Comedy Central (should I say poor Justin Bieber?). She
- lost her husband several years ago
- calls her sons her 3 Wise Men (clever!)
- is the nicest boss in the world.
In just 5 days, they are filming her Christmas Eve special at her farmhouse in Vermont, and though she is nervous about filming it live, she trusts Maggie.
While waiting to meet with Julia, Maggie sits under some mistletoe and meets a mysterious blonde male. They have a very romantic conversation about how questionable it is to have mistletoe in the workplace.
This man has a mischievous twinkle in his eye as he lets Maggie tell him all about Julia Wise’s Christmas Special. Hmm…This guy is up to something.
Who is this flirty turd?
Maggie walks in on Julia tearing up over a framed photo. Apparently her 3 sons haven’t spent Christmas with her in years. Because Maggie doesn’t see what she’s looking at, she assumes Julia is nervous about the live show.
But, about that live show…
The network is worried about taking too big of a risk, so Julia decided to appease them by bringing in a previous producer of the show to co-produce with Maggie.
In walks, that flirt of a turd, Danny Wise (Chad Michael Murray). He
- is one of Julia’s three sons
- produced the first two years of Julia’s special
- has been making nature documentaries for the past several years
- values tradition over innovation.
Uh oh!!!! Also, might I add that Danny is a charmer, but I’m calling him a turd because he KNOWS he is a charmer.
(Did I do that Ariana Grande meme right?)
He thinks that adding a few pre-recorded segments will be good to add to the live show. As do I. Maggie is peeved by this, but she knows she has no choice but to work with her boss’ hunky son.
They decide to do a handful of cross country Christmas segments (not the sport) to sprinkle throughout. Julia initially only wanted to send Danny, but Maggie decides she wants to supervise to make sure he keeps these segments in the spirit of the live show. Sounds like a good way to stir up some love 😉
Maggie also decides that she is going to surprise Julia by getting all of her boys together for Christmas. Because she keeps this secret from Danny, she doesn’t know just how difficult this is going to be.
They arrive at a Christmas tree farm owned by an adorable couple in the heart of Fort Collins, Colorado. But, there is a problem! Their celebrity host–who I am just now mentioning for the first time, oops–is sick. She is so sick that I am tempted to use hand sanitizer just watching her sneeze and messily blow her nose while wiping snot all over her face.
Maggie gets the idea to let Mr. and Mrs. Tree Farm tell their own story–which is great because they are cuties, and Mr. Tree Farm is a ham. He tries to bring Maggie into the segment by making her axe a tree down, but laughs and says jk THIS CHAINSAW is so much safer lil’ lady!
Even though he wasn’t actually supposed to cut down the tree, Mr. Tree Farm saws it down and tells Maggie and Danny that they have to take it. He points at a sign and winks: Once you cut, it’s your tree!!!!!!!!!!!
….even though Mr. Tree Farm CUT IT HIMSELF SO TECHNICALLY IT’S HIS TREE AND IT WAS HIS MISTAKE AND HE SHOULD KEEP IT BUT WHATEVER HE’S ADORABLE SO I’LL LET IT SLIDE.
MAGGIE (sorry, I was still yelling for some reason?) reveals that, in college, there was a Christmas that her parents couldn’t afford to fly her home for the holidays. Instead, she spent it with her friends in her dorm watching the Julia Wise Christmas Special. Once she graduated she went straight to work for Julia because she believes what she does is important. That’s pretty sweet.
So, Maggie and Danny truce it out because Christmas tree farms have special powers like that.
Now, onto their next stop!
They make a pit stop at a resort in Boulder, Colorado. Well, Danny thinks it is just a pit stop, but we know it ain’t because Maggie smiles with the mischievous twinkle in her eye that Danny is so good at.
Here we meet the 2nd of the Wise men, Derek (Cardi Wong). He
- works at this resort
- looks like he might be a terrible singer
- isn’t over the moon about seeing Danny?
Derek straight up refuses to go to his mother’s Christmas special, and Danny isn’t very happy that Maggie tried to pull this off without consulting him. The Christmas Special has always driven a wedge between the 3 Wise Men. Whoops!
We learn that the first year of the show, a 16 year-old Derek wanted to play the ukulele and sing I Saw Three Ships (an odd choice?). As producer, Danny shut him down because he was terrible, but also wanted to save him from viral video shame. Of course, Derek doesn’t know he was trying protect him and thinks that Danny was being a diva.
They spy a snowman relay race about to start at the resort. Aaaaaaaand
- Maggie wants to do a segment on it (so they do).
- Derek says he will go see his mom if the three of them make a team and win the race.
- They name their team Thumpity Thump Thump.
To be honest, it’s kind of a disaster. Everyone is flailing around. They think they have won, but end up realizing they made a toddler snowman while everyone else made giant snowmen, not unlike buff Al Boreland (Tommy) from the All of my Heart movies.
After a change of heart, Derek said he will go with them, even though they didn’t win! The race was just a bonus to see Danny get snow in his perfect hair.
But, beep beep beep! Special news report! There is a storm heading their way! No planes! They are just stuck with trains and automobiles! The three hop in the car and try to drive faster than the snow clouds can move.
While groggily demanding coffee, Maggie awakens to see that she has been left in the car alone to freeze to death. She rubs the sleep out of her eyes and notices she is outside of her parents’ house in Nebraska?!
She jumps out of the car and sees her parents waving gleefully from the front step. It takes her approximately 20 hours to run to greet her parents because she is too busy scolding Danny for surprising her with this….wonderful surprise? He winks at her and it translates to lol ha ha sure got you good!
Maggie gets to be home for her family’s White Elephant gift exchange, and they are going to make it a segment for the Christmas special.
I would like to quickly add that Maggie’s mom, Lois, is the type of mom I aspire to be. (let’s just forget the fact that I am already a mom and nothing like this). The three showed up without presents, so Lois goes to her emergency present cabinet and pulls out gifts that are beautifully wrapped so anyone could participate in White Elephant even if they forgot a gift. How?! Will I ever be that great?! Ah.
This is some Richie Rich White Elephant, folks. One person will wind up with a white elephant figurine that they reuse every year, but the rest will steal and beat up each other over effin’ iPads and Apple watches.
(I promised myself that I wouldn’t make a Michael Scott reference because everyone else on Twitter already had, but The Office is my all time favorite show. I’ll just share a picture of what I brought to my White Elephant last year)
It was a deck of UNO cards. Our limit was like $25, but don’t worry, I bought other stuff too and made a White Elephant gift basket.
In the end, Danny gets the white elephant and is super happy that he didn’t spend $1,000 on an iPad Pro only to end up with a present he has to give back next year.
I would also like to add that there are so many people in this cast, but they are all great. Every character adds something to the story, and it’s really nice.
Maggie, Danny, and Derek keep trucking along on their journey. The next stop is David: Brother #3.
David (Jeff Gonek)
- always invites Derek over for Christmas (but not Danny)
- has great glasses
- owns an animal shelter!
He and his co-owner, Bradley, throw a Puppy Party with the rescues every year. I am a cat person because I am terrified of dogs, but this is very cute.
While Danny makes a video segment about the shelter’s Puppy Party, Maggie speaks with David about coming home for Christmas with them.
This is where I teared up. David needed to be in more of this movie.
Ever since the patriarch of the family passed away, Christmas has been a difficult time for all of them. Julia processed this by putting all of her time into work, aka The Christmas Special. He doesn’t agree with how she celebrates Christmas by working through it, so he never goes home. And, he still ain’t going home.
To lighten the mood, Bradley comes in with a basket of kittens, albeit abandoned kittens. But, they were the cleanest abandoned kittens I’ve ever seen.
Time for some bullet point exclamations!
- Danny gives his ‘lil bro, Derek, a jar of peanut butter every month!
- Maggie and Danny almost kiss, but they are interrupted by a siren!
- They meet a woman with turquoise glasses!
Also, Derek sacrifices his train ticket to a pregnant couple, which means that he can’t go to Vermont to see his mom. He heads back to David’s because he knows that Puppy Party is lit.
Once they arrive at Vermont, Maggie and Danny take a romantic horse drawn sleigh ride to Julia Wise’s farmhouse. She snuggles up to him and says that they make a great team. You can almost see the vision of them becoming real spouses and work spouses just like Mr. and Mrs. Tree Farm dancing in her head.
Julia answers the door as warm and cheerful as ever with the scent of a roast goose, gingerbread, and pine dancing out of the farmhouse into the winter air. Can you image her being your boss? She treats her work family so well–she’s making everyone Christmas dinner–and she’s just so dang nice. Working for her is what I imagine working for Hallmark is like.
As they are decorating the Christmas tree, Julia brings out some of her husband’s favorite Christmas decorations for the first time since he passed away. They pull out the ukulele–which has already appeared in Derek’s thankfully not viral video–and Julia reminds them that Danny’s father had always said that it doesn’t matter if you can sing well because
Christmas carols are for everybody.
ARE YOU JOKING ME?! Can this movie get any sweeter?! You can see the guilt on Danny’s face for not letting Derek share his out-of-tune Christmas spirit.
The power goes out for 5 seconds, which reminds Maggie that she should probs invest in some generators in case this were to happen during the live show. But, while the power is out, Mags and Dan seem to be generating some heat of their own, amirite? 😉 Enough electricity between these two to light a small town teehehehehehe
Once everyone has gone to bed, Danny shows Maggie some extra footage that he edited for himself. They watch a sweet moment between Derek and Maggie’s mom talking about their families. This makes them want to kiss (?), but
A-not-asleep-at-all Julia walks in and spoils the mood!
She even pours a second bucket of cold water on Maggie’s fire by telling her that Danny won’t be back to work on the show next year. He’s got another job.
So, obviously, Maggie and Danny fight. They’re both sad.
The next day, while a giant clock menacingly counts down the hours until the live show, everyone helps Julia cook Christmas dinner. During this, Maggie and Danny get over their augment rather quickly because just like Christmas tree farms, cooking is magic.
Danny tells Maggie that he left the show because of his brothers. Because he spent Christmases with his mom working on the show, Derek and David felt left out. Danny was tired of Christmases being divided and he wanted to make it fair. Even though he left the show, things didn’t change.
It’s really sad.
He also gives Maggie a flash drive with the edited footage he made for himself because she liked it.
Time for the Julia Wise Christmas Special!
Except everything goes wrong.
30 seconds until showtime…
The power goes out
25 seconds until showtime…
Generators turn on
20 seconds until showtime…
But everything has to reboot!!!! There is no teleprompter! No prerecorded segments!
3, 2, 1…
Julia Wise is going to have to wing it!!!!!!
Maggie turns into Rambo or some action star (I do not watch action movies, so sorry for my dated reference) and takes matters into her own hands. She
- makes out with Danny right in front of his mom while the show is filming live
- gets the flash drive so they can show those segments in place of the ones that won’t load
- runs into the other two Wise Men who found their way home!!!!!!
While the show is still airing, there is a knock at the door! Maggie signals Julia to answer it and for the cameras to follow her. Julia is shocked and so grateful to have her boys home and this beautiful moment is broadcasted all over the nation, filling everyone’s eyes with tears and hearts with Christmas cheer.
It’s just so sweet.
Derek plays the ukulele and everyone sings and Julia Wise tells the world Merry Christmas! and they all eat and Danny decides to stay and it’s sweet and everyone is happy and
I rate Road to Christmas Elle Woods’ friends screaming ROAD TRIP!!!!! in Legally Blonde which is a 4.5/5 on my scale of Roads!!!!
- The interstate near my house that has been under construction for over THREE YEARS
- The backroad Sam Hunt was comparing a woman’s body to in Body like a Back Road
- Walnut Street (I’m pretty sure every town has a Walnut Street)
- The Yellow Brick Road
- Any road that leads you home ❤
I have no idea what was wrong with me because the first time I watched Road to Christmas I wasn’t feeling it. Maybe I was sitting on a porcupine. To be fair, I wasn’t paying much attention. BUT, I gave it another chance and got misty eyed twice…so, yeah, I’m so glad I rewatched it. It is great!
The cast is amazing. Teryl Rothery is perfect as Julia Wise. She makes the character warm, sweet and vulnerable. I really appreciate that Julia wasn’t written as an ice queen, and is a successful businesswoman who is also super duper nice. CMM and Jessy Schram had a natural chemistry and their interactions were adorable. Also, the brothers!!!!!!!!!!! I’m just going to say YAY!!!!
I love that the story is sincere and heartwarming but is also funny. The humor and tenderness are expertly balanced and I am thankful for that. I dare other Countdown to Christmas movies to make me feel the way that I did when David spoke of his broken family and when Julia was surprised by her sons–and when she found out it was Maggie’s doing and said “Oh, Maggie.” Sigh… ❤️
Thank you for reading! If you wanna talk about Road to Christmas, I am @thehallremark on Twitter and Instagram! Or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. I love getting email, even when it’s from Fighting Illini making fun of me for being a Boilermaker 😉