This story–a story which rudely threatens to be one of my all-time favorites–begins with three things I dearly love:
- handwritten letters between pen pals with thousands of miles between them.
How dare they. 30 seconds in, and I didn’t even stand a chance.
Not to mention, in this tale as old as time, there’s also High School Musical nostalgia, a darn good Santa, and Anna from Frozen. But, hey, I’m getting ahead of myself…
Let’s get to recappin’!
Audrey Brown (Melissa Claire Egan), co-owner of A&J Coffee in Bramford, CT, is nice. Like super duper nice. BUT thankfully that is not all there is to know about her. She
- roasts coffee beans in the cutest barn I’ve ever seen
- has dreams of expanding her successful business
- writes letters!
She is very close with her brother, Devin (Rocky Myers)–a solider in the Army who is currently deployed. Audrey sends him letters and care packages of treats and coffee. The coffee–a Red Barn Christmas blend in particular–catches one First Sergeant’s eye.
First Sergeant Matt Evans (Marc Blucas) is also nice! Like, whoa, are you allowed to be that nice? kind of nice. He
- has been in the Army for 20 years
- loves history
- is headed to Bramford, CT! Yes, that Bramford, CT!
At this point, these two very nice people have been pen pals for a whole year–Audrey sending Matt coffee, and the pair exchanging sweet letters. But, one letter fails to make it to Audrey, and it’s the most exciting one of all! Matt’s great news that he’s coming to meet her in person falls out of the mail bag and onto the floor.
Matt’s been sent to the base in Bramford to see what his next career move is going to be. Will he reenlist? Will he become a history teacher at a military school in Virginia? Will he fall in love and stay in Bramford for the rest of his life drinking coffee and slow dancing in front of Christmas trees? Well, read on to find out, my friends!
INT. A&J COFFEE SHOP – PRESENT DAY
Let’s buy that building next door and knock down that hopefully not load bearing wall! To expand our business!
Buying that building next door and expanding our business would be great!
A realtor named Luke–whose face is on every bus, bench, and flyer in town–has been listening intently for his cue to pounce.
Oh, Audrey! Did I hear that right, Audrey?! You and your business partner need my business services, Audrey? Then, it’s a DATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
A young-ish woman, early 30s wearing an oversized Christmas sweater and tinsel garland as a boa, waiting on her peppermint mocha with extra whipped cream, jumps into the scene with a horrified look on her face.
EMMA AKA THE HALLREMARK
Audrey. Please. I beg of you. Find another realtor. This man. This man is terrifying. This man will call everything you do a date–doing his job by showing you a building, making crappy flyers on Microsoft Paint into the wee hours of the morning, walking by you in the street. This man will touch your arm and make it look like you’re in a relationship, confusing the hot pen pal you’re about to meet. This man could ruin everything.
Wait, are you psychic?
Wow, thanks, Emma aka The Hallremark. I’ll call The Property Brothers. Bye Luke!
Aaaaaaaaand that’s how it would have gone if I were there. Seriously, this realtor dude…bad news. I mean, he ends up being fine and nice, but whoa…was I bugged about him calling everything a freakin’ date.
(Wow, I probably spent too long on that. Our poor protagonists haven’t even officially met yet. And, I haven’t mentioned the Holiday for Heroes event!)
REAL QUICK though. Before things get ooey-gooey romantic, I need to introduce you to Matt’s friend, Tom (Bart Johnson). You recognize the name Bart Johnson? Of course you recognize COACH BOLTON FROM THE HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL FRANCHISE. I was so excited I sent my BFF an audio message. I didn’t want to text it out or leave a voicemail because she could’ve answered and I didn’t want that much time away from this movie.
Here is the transcript of the audio message I sent my BFF:
“Oh my gosh–so I’m watching a Hallmark Christmas movie, and freakin’ Troy Bolton’s dad is in it and his first line of the movie was excitedly yelling someone’s last name. The main character’s name is Matt Evans, but he walked in and said EVANS! and I’m thinking DANFORTH! So…yep.”
You must know that when I picture Coach Bolton, I picture him yelling people’s last names, so this was wonderful. Oh, and he’s a hockey coach. A COACH. The only thing that could’ve been better was if he yelled “What the heck are those two doing in a tree?!”
But, what is relevant to the plot of this movie is that he gets Matt to be his assistant hockey coach.
Back at A&J’s Coffee, we are finally at the big moment–and because of that lost letter, Audrey has zero idea who is about to walk in the shop’s festively decorated front door.
First Sergeant Matt Evans floats in, pure joy shooting out of his fingers and toes, the glow of excited anticipation illuminating the whole room more than the Christmas decorations ever could. He’s about to meet Audrey, the woman whose letters and coffee kept him company for the past year, whose words and warmth made him excited about what could be next.
Let’s just say Audrey is shocked…and a little awkward acting. Not only didn’t she know she’d meet her pen pal Matt, she definitely didn’t know he’d be that good lookin’. Thank goodness she had brushed her hair!
But, this meeting isn’t all flirty and fun. Audrey finds out that her brother, and everyone else, won’t be able to come home for Christmas like they had planned. That includes Jade’s husband, as well. And a lot of the townspeople’s family members. 😦
Audrey and Matt, separately, attend Bramford’s Christmas tree lightning (of the absolute skinniest tree I have ever seen in my life), and hear some awful news. Actually, it’s what they don’t hear that is awful. While listing the town’s Christmas activities, some cheery mayor lady (I think?) fails to mention Holiday for Heroes. When Audrey confronts her, Ms. Mayor forgets she’s cheery and rudely tells her that because of the extended deployment they won’t be sponsoring Holiday for Heroes this year. Oh, and matching contributions to the toy drive? Ha, not likely, what a waste of taxpayers’ money!
This makes Audrey panic–the soldiers and their families deserve to be celebrated at the Holiday for Heroes event. A little background: Audrey organizes Holiday for Heroes every year. It is a party honoring Bramford’s servicemen with food, music, community, and a whole lotta Christmas cheer. Without the town’s help and with the soldiers on extended deployment, how will they be able to celebrate this year?
So, Audrey jumps on stage and assures everyone that she will figure it out! Holiday for Heroes will happen, someway, somehow! BUT THEN Luke is like I’LL HELP! IT DEFINITELY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE FACT I FIND AUDREY VERY HOTT.
I need to speed this up a little bit because I spent 25 minutes talking about HSM, so here are some bullet points:
- The town decides to send the deployed soldiers elaborate care packages!
- Audrey gets an idea after hearing Matt say that the people keeping everything together back home are the heroes. They will still throw the Holiday for Heroes party, but for the families!
- They’ll set up donation centers around town so anyone can help out if they want.
ALSO Matt just up and says that he doesn’t have much party planning experience, but he mainly wants to help to spend more time with Audrey ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ I love how transparent he is about his feelings. Unlike Luke, he isn’t presumptuous and he doesn’t come on too strong. He’s just honest about his feelings and doesn’t expect anything in return. He gives her room to feel how she feels and I just really appreciate it.
So, Audrey and Matt hang out. And plan. And fall in love.
They eat s’mores. Audrey opens up about losing her parents at a young age and feeling like a mom to her brother, Devin. Matt decorates a skating rink with 45 Christmas trees and a billion yards of garland and twinkle lights.
Here are some things I wrote in my notes about Audrey and Matt’s chemistry:
- omg they are so flirty
- Matt is so nice and flirty what the heck? they’re not even trying to hide it ahhhhhhhh I love this
- why is he so jolly I love it?
- I squealed because they’re so cute oh good GRIEF
- just get married already!
As you can tell, my notes are very coherent. Thank goodness that I rarely live-tweet Hallmark movies, because those are the gems that would be sent out into cyberspace.
Audrey finally receives the lost letter! Unfortunately it reveals something Matt hasn’t yet told her: he will only be in Bramford for THIRTY DAYS while he figures out his next move. She is thrown off by this information, but they continue hanging out and flirting up a snowstorm. She even invites him to set up the Christmas tree in her barn! Now, I’ll explain why that’s significant after I talk about…
Audrey’s red barn…it’s…it’s MAGNIFICENT. It’s
- covered in snow
- tastefully decorated with Christmassy wreaths
But, it also caused a fight between me and my husband. See, I want that barn to be my house. I repeatedly said whoa, husband! look at that barn! wow! wouldn’t you like to live in it?! and even though I gushed for way too long, all he said was “nope.” Which made me exclaim various “disgusts” at him and demands for a good explanation.
“I don’t like its face. It’s not looking at me right.”
Darnit. He’s right. And, now I’m mad.
Audrey hadn’t yet set up the Christmas tree in the family barn, because it is tradition to decorate it with Devin. Putting up the Christmas tree is hard on her because it is the last thing her family did together before her parents passed away in a car crash. After the tragedy, she wanted to hate Christmas, but she couldn’t do that to her much younger brother. She had to make Christmas perfect for him.
The fact that she shared this story with Matt AND cut down the tree and decorated it with him is so romantic to me. Then it got stupid romantic. Like I’m so grossed out at myself at how swept up I got in all of it?
Matt walked over to the record player and put on White Christmas and asked her to come to him. I got a flutter in my chest and my breath caught. Then they slow danced in front of the newly decorated Christmas tree and Audrey said “If you leave I’ll keep writing you.”
WHAT. It made me kinda groan on a little sob. I know that is a weird way to put it, but I actually groaned? What? Why? But, seriously, why? I just really love them as a couple.
Some things happen:
- Audrey and Jade’s offer on the building next door gets accepted!
- (But tearing down the load bearing wall is going to be hella expensive, so that is very bad.)
- Matt helps some of his hockey players–including Jade’s son–with history homework.
- Due to a scheduling error, they lose the event space for Holiday for Heroes.
- Matt is offered the military school teaching job at the interview, and he’s not sure what to dooooooooo! Teach, reenlist, stay in Bramford?! Oh nooooo.
So, the contractor. The one that hopes to tear down the wall for A&J? He is married. And I am very upset about it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I mean, I’m sure he’s happy and that’s great, but I wanted him to be a love interest for Pam. Especially since he ends up being the jolly Santa for Holiday for Heroes, and Pam is obsessed with Christmas. So. Yeah. I’m devastated.
This is where things get icky.
Matt tells Audrey about his job offers. Yes, offers!
- Military School Teacher in Virginia
- Be an Officer in the Army, which is a MAJOR promotion. But, he has to reenlist for THREE YEARS.
Let’s just say Audrey doesn’t take this info well. She doesn’t want to influence his decision, so…she just stops talking to him. Oh, Audrey! Nooooooo.
But, even though she is sad (and making a bad decision) she is still solving problems and getting things done! When she finds out that they haven’t raised enough money to get gifts for every child at Holiday for Heroes, she and Jade decide to donate their down payment money to the cause! They will put off their business expansion for a little bit longer because they agree this is more important. Aw.
And, even though she is hesitant to host Holiday for Heroes in her adorable barn that grimaces at my husband, she does it after her brother says “Fill the barn with Christmas, the way it’s supposed to be.” ❤
Now, let’s talk about Matt.
Matt is feeling uneasy because he’s basically been ghosted (lololol look at me being so young & hip) by Audrey. He thinks she’s dating Realtor Luke. Why? Oh, just because of what I said when I tried to warn Audrey and everyone in A&J coffee 1,500 words ago!
Matt sees Luke touch Audrey’s arm! In a bar, no less! (From my notes: oh good grief, his creepy lingering hand touch made ole Matty leave the building)
BUT the principal of the school in Bramford hears about Matt’s good history teaching skillz and kind of offers him a job. That means he could stay in Bramford! And drink coffee with Audrey for the rest of his life! Does she even like him though?! We’ll see!
Meanwhile, the town is pulling together to get Holiday for Heroes organized. It’s sweet and lovely!
After days apart, Matt finally walks back into A&J Coffee. Audrey is able to clear up that Luke is just a realtor, and Matt is able to deliver a line that makes me gasp: “You know, those letters really got me through. Made me feel like I had someone to come home to.” SOMEONE TO COME HOME TO. Dang, that’s so romantic to me. Whoo-wee.
Audrey admits that she is falling for him and that she wants him to stay, but he needs to make the decision for himself. GUESS who had already decided to stay! Matt!!!! He gives her angel ornaments because he sees her as his angel. Just as they are about to make out he leaves because he has another surprise for her???????????????????????????????
Instead of can I at least get a hint?!, I wanted her to yell “CAN I AT LEAST GET A KISS?!”
Um, so, the teleprompter has informed that this recap has gotten out of control and I need to wrap it up. Let me bullet point some stuff before the orchestra plays me off.
- The party happens!
- It’s wonderful!
- Matt gives a speech dedicated to Audrey!
- The town wrote Audrey sweet Christmas cards!!!!!!
- A bunch of people pitched in enough money to cover the down payment Audrey and Jade donated (but if the town could do that why didn’t they just donate money for the toy drive??????????)!
- People dressed as toy soldiers march in and do a dance. When they twirl around they reveal that they are everyone’s loved ones!!!!! The entire 192nd Infantry Battalion of the Connecticut National Guard got to come home!!!!
Audrey and Matt dance! Matt says “I’m staying here, but you can write me a love letter any time.” They kiss! The End!
I rate Holiday for Heroes the barn that the glowing blue ghost of Inez Dumaine haunted in Child of Glass which is a 5/5 on my scale of Barns!!!! A perfect score! Whoop whoop!
- The disgusting plastic yard barn that came with our house when we bought it
- I don’t know, I guess a barn that’s falling over?
- The huge round barn I grew up near that always made my dad say “did you hear about the guy that died in that barn? he couldn’t find a corner to pee in.”
- Red barns decorated for Christmas
- The barn that the glowing blue ghost of Inez Dumaine haunted in Child of Glass
Well, hot dang, was that lovely!
I don’t even know where to begin? I gasped, giggled, squealed so hard I coughed (I have a post-Disney World vacation cold), and had to stop a light sob from escaping my throat. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Holiday for Heroes is the first Hallmark Movies & Mysteries movie I’ve covered on The Hallremark, and boy, did I hold out for a good’n. I usually lean towards the #CountdowntoChristmas lineup since I love myself a light rom com, but #MiraclesofChristmas has been hitting it out of the park this year (I’ll write about Two Turtle Doves when I figure out how to). Way to go HMM!
Melissa Claire Egan, welcome to Hallmark! Audrey was so darn likable! Usually I’m not a huge fan when characters are pushed as being so sweet and so very giving and soooo selfless, but Egan played Audrey with a sincerity that I totally believed. She wasn’t just cheery or always upbeat! but she was allowed to be vulnerable when it came to her past heartaches, and cheeky in her flirtation with Matt. I so appreciate that she wasn’t one-dimensional.
Okay, so, Marc Blucas. Marc. Blucas. Yeesh, did he play this role well! He…dazzled. I don’t care if that was an annoying thing to say, because it’s true. He was effortlessly charming and gave us one of the jolliest Hallmark leads in recent memory (well one that didn’t have a secret life as Santa). I loved that we didn’t have to chip away at his exterior to find out what he wanted or what he was feeling/thinking. He was so transparent in his courtship of Audrey and it was unbelievably refreshing. Usually there is a lot of oh my there is no way i’m interested in this extremely attractive and nice person ew gross love in these movies, and it was nice to see blatant flirtation from the leads–especially since it wasn’t creepy, but pure and slightly awkward. Blucas showed us a man who was new to this type of love, who wasn’t scared of it all, but bursting from excitement because of it. Just lovely, I say.
Pair these two up again!
I really liked the supporting cast and would list them all and say nice things about them but I’m tired and super behind on all of my recaps so I’ve got to cut some corners. Just know that if you’re in this movie, I give you 2 thumbs up, and I hope to see you in other Hallmark movies too!
Also, I’m not one to quote the sweet parts of movies, but this movie gave Matt some lines that made me swooooooooon.
The only negative thing I can say about this movie is that my pal, Lisa, was an extra and I didn’t see her in the background once! I mean, c’mon!
(Also if you haven’t seen the 1978 Disney movie Child of Glass you NEED to. As a kid, I watched it with my Grandma and cousins and have the most wonderful memories of it.)
Let me know what you thought of Holiday for Heroes! Did you love it as much as I did? Did you have a coughing fit because it was so darn sweet? Were you also sad that the jolly Santa and Pam didn’t fall in love? Let me know in the comments, or find me on twitter or Instagram @thehallremark!
Thanks for reading! ❤