First, a transcript.
More specifically, a transcript of a snippet of a 2 minute 11 second audio message sent to my BFF after the credits of my first viewing of Ghosts of Christmas Always rolled:
“hahaha uuuauuuuuuuuahhhhhhh hahahaha like hahaha I just—I’m gonna recap it and I’m gonna give it a 6 out of 5. Like there is—I, I canNOT explain I—there’s not nuahhhhuahhaaa like I was sobbing so many times and it’s not because it was kdfhtjfd—it was so touching and so funny and goofy and I just like I cannot get over it”
(crying sniffs throughout)
Aaaand that’s what it’s like to be friends with me. You get incoherent passionate messages about the things I love. You know what, kinda seems like what it must be like to read this blog, so I guess you already know. Can you IMAGINE if I had a podcast lololol. It’d be an hour long noise complaint.
Second, today’s sponsor:
Gatorade. For when you need rehydration after you watch a movie and cry at least 5 different times and lay down on the floor with tears streaming down your face and your cat decides it’s a good time to attack you. And for sports too!
(They’re not really a sponsor. My Gatorade powder just means so very much to me and always helps in my migraine and help I’m worried I’m dehydrated times.)
Third, and I cannot stress this enough, do not read the rest of this unless you’ve seen the movie! I’M BEGGING YOU, do not let this blog post be how you first experience this beautiful story!
Fourth, I guess I better start recapping.
Once upon a time, there were a lot of times. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” one could say (whoops—wrong Dickens book). But seriously, there are so many times because we are dealing with the pasts, presents, and futures of a bunch of people.
This movie has so many twists and turns, so many characters, so much magical wonder that I will have to leave stuff out. If not, this blog post will be as long as A Christmas Carol. Yes, it’s a novella, but I don’t think I have time for that if I want to finish my own book. Or, ya know, eat today.
Let’s meet some ghosts.
Christmas Past is
- Kinda grumpy.
I’d be grumpy and annoyed and hitting the martinis a little too hard too if I were always reliving the past. If the past was the only thing to look forward to. If I was only focused on the happy memories that get marred by the heartbreaking ones that change our future. So, yeah, Arlene’s got quite the Stephanie Tanner, hands on hips, ‘tude, and I get it.
Christmas Future is
- Handsome in his ascot
- Serence as heck.
Like, if I could calmly and cooly exhale “all is as it should be” on a daily basis I’d have that constant serene look on my face too. Except, my eyebrows are always raised because I’m trying to catch the sniper rifle laser OCD is aiming at my forehead, reminding me that the future is terrifying! and drenched in flames! and choking hazards! and unwashed hands preparing food! so I had better do something about it because I’m the only one who can save my loved ones and the world! Maybe I can learn something from this movie if I let myself stop and just breathe in the snow.
Christmas Present is
- From Hartford (Connecticut? Unsure.)
- Our main character.
There’s actually not much to know about her yet. We don’t know her past or her future. What we do know is that she’s in her hometown, and floating around her old stomping grounds. We also know that the man who just walked into a long-closed bar, the Rooty Tooty, is greeting her? But, she’s a ghost and her Scrooging Duties for the year are over. She just helped give famous Christmas songwriter, Susan Kraine, her Christmas spirit back. It’s rest time now! Who is this man and why is he looking her in the eye? Why is he talking to her?!
The talkative-eye-contact man is
- Peter Baron
- SO NICE
His family owns this block, and he knows that’s annoying to talk about. Also he and Katherine are flirting and they have chemistry and this is bad because Katherine is dead and Peter is alive and this is too many italics. But, did I mention that Peter is SO NICE? Because I feel like that will matter a lot.
(Let’s just get out of the way that I watched PLL feverishly for 7 years so I was so very happy to see Ian Harding being a SO NICE guy that I TRUST and oh, boy, is he WONDERFUL in this movie, WOW.)
And whoosh! She disappears from Earth and back into a never-ending building with 30 billions doors and just as many ghosts. It’s some version of beyond, and it’s fascinating.
One of the doors is unlike the others. It leads to The Great Unknown and Katherine is perplexed how a ghost comes to pass through those fuzzy, dreamlike doors. Roy tells her that for a ghost to travel through them “they first must know where they wanna go.”
- Arlene, Katherine, and Roy (recap: Past, Present, and Future) get their Scrooging assignment for next year.
- The assignment? The SO NICE Peter Baron!
- Important note: the ghosts are not allowed to share their information folders with each other, and do not meddle in each other’s work.
- So, yeah, Katherine keeps the fact that she just talked to Peter quiet.
- And! We are in the past!
But, now we are in the present.
- One year has passed and it’s December 23rd, Present Year.
- Arlene, Katherine, and Roy are still confused as to why they are about to Scrooge the anti-Scrooge.
- The three ghosts seem to all have some secrets of their own, though. And they are all acting very suspicious.
- It’s GO TIME.
Peter is shocked to find the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future in his apartment. Peter is also ecstatic. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen myself play out on TV like this. His jumpy, excited, squealy, clappy, panicky, shouty bursts happen at least once a day over here. “You relate to this guy, don’t you?” My husband asked while Peter asked if people hated him, if he’s a monster, and obsessed over actions and what he could’ve done better in his past. Shut up, dude 🙃
I am pretty sure he is also stoked to see Katherine again—who finally comes clean to Arlene and Roy about her meet-cute with Peter the previous year. Peter all but insists Katherine come to his past with Arlene. After some Arlene grumbles, she does!!!!
Big ole sob-fest, that’s what it is. A sob-fest. Like I said, no wonder Arlene is grumpy. She has to see stuff like this all the time!
We are shown
- How generous Peter has always been
- How generous Peter’s Grandpa Bob was
- How much of a Scrooge Peter’s father, Robert, was
- HOW LONELY PETER’S EARLY LIFE WAS! No!
Tears down to my shirt collar.
Every year, Peter and his mom, dad, and grandpa would ride the carousel on Christmas Day. Until the year his dad has to work. Until the year his parents get a divorce. Until the year Grandpa Bob dies. Until the year it’s him riding alone.
Until the Christmas he’s with his crush on the carousel who is winking at someone else. Until he admits a big reason he liked his crush is because he wanted to be a part of her big, happy family.
And for the cherry on top of his loneliness, his mom hands him the camera and asks him to take a family picture of her new husband and new baby. WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT NO. I SCREAMED AT THE TV. SHOUTED. REACTED IN ALL CAPS.
It’s also revealed that Peter told his father that he someday wanted to inherit his family’s company, Foodstuff. Not only is it obvious he doesn’t want to do that, I called it Food N Stuff the whole movie and pictured Ron Swanson buying huge packages of ground beef and crows for April.
Also, it’s totally whatever, but Katherine may or may not be Peter’s grandma because of an old-timey picture Arlene spots in the Frog Hollow Angel community center. That’s probably not a big deal. It’s not like Peter and Katherine have amazing flirty chemistry or have been making love eyes at each other or anything.
Oh shoot, oh crap.
Not great, either. Peter’s still a charitable sweetie, but keeps getting hassled by his dad about it. Peter reveals that he wishes he could make a difference like his grandparents—who never had much but always shared with others. So much so that they built a community center across the street from the Rooty Tooty, the Frog Hollow Angel. He finally admits that he doesn’t want to take over Foodstuff and ZIP! the two get snapped back to his apartment with the other ghosts because—
Peter’s Scrooging is over! His lesson learned! Except these two lovies convince Arlene and Roy that he needs more time—basically just so they can go on a date, lol. It’s very adorable.
After a romantic night, Katherine lets Peter go, because he knows what he wants to do. Instantly, he wakes up from his ghostly dream and immediately calls his dad, leaving the MEANEST voicemail of all time. He’s like I don’t want to take over Foodstuff, I don’t want to be anything like you, I wanna be like Grandpa cuz I’d rather be broke and good than rich and broken, Merry Christmas! Haha, yikes. Oh my gosh. Wow.
Back at Christmas Ghost Heaven, it’s just as dramatic because Arlene, Katherine, and Roy (like he didn’t know already) get the shock of a lifetime (deathtime?). These three Scrooged the wrong guy! They were supposed to Scrooge Robert Baron, Peter’s miserly father. Yes, of course. Duh. Oh, and apparently the universe might implode and suck Christmas away with it if they don’t finish their task. Whoever said Hallmark is low stakes used to be right!
Also, Robert won’t be able to see the Christmas ghosts because the Scrooge magic is gone (??), so they’re gonna have to work through Peter since he can miraculously still see Katherine (??). Sounds like a matchmaking job, if you ask me. Hopeful that it’s…um…not a we’ve already got the same last name might as well get married type of situation…
All the while, Roy is still zen-ly cooing “all is as it should be.”
Let’s breeze through this part—
- Peter is reluctant to help because he’s still grumpy about his dad
- They recruit last year’s project, Susan Kraine, to Scrooge Robert because he has a big fat crush on her.
- Susan goes all Jessica Chastain as Tammy Faye Bakker and performs Don’t You Wanna Be My Christmas Angel at Robert’s Christmas Eve Party. (I screamed btw. The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021) is a movie that also made me cry and crack up. Loved it.)
- Peter and Robert fight at the Christmas Eve party because of Peter’s less than ideal voicemail.
Guess he won’t have a successful Scrooging, after all.
But, Arlene and Roy are like no biggie, let’s just go back to your past, Katherine, because yours and Peter’s are kinda the same.
Oh geez, are we gonna go look at a family tree or something?!
INT. ROOTY TOOTY – 1950-SOMETHING
KATHERINE, PETER, and ARLENE appear in the crowded bar. A smiley brunette waitress steps onto the scene and chats with a customer.
THANK GOODNESS, they ain’t related! Betsy was Katherine’s best friend. Betsy was Peter’s Grandma. Aw.
Still kinda awkward that he’s alive and she’s dead though.
These 1950s Things Happen
- Katherine’s memories are fuzzy and glowy and if they were written on a page I was holding in my hands, they’d be tear-streaked and crinkly.
- She had so many plans! All she wanted to do was help people. Even turn the Rooty Tooty into a type of shelter at night.
- Gabe, Mr. Rooty Tooty, expresses to Katherine that there is “no time like the present” to start living your dreams. Heart-wrenching!
- Kat and Bets pop into a new grocery store and we get to see Grandma Betsy and Grandpa Bob’s meet-cute. They talk about gum.
- Katherine dies on her way to donate a blanket to shivering people ☹️
But the most important thing is that we learn that Katherine is not just Kat or the Ghost of Christmas Present. She is also the Frog Hollow Angel. Betsy and Bob created the community center based on Katherine’s charitable acts and dreams. WHICH MEANS that a lot of the things that Peter loved about his Grandpa are because of Katherine—that a lot of who he is because of Katherine. WHAT YES YAY.
I am losing steam. I’m sure you are too. I wish I knew how to be brief. Just know that I am not mentioning a lot of things! I am trying to be cool about this! But I know I am not cool! I love Hamilton! It makes me cry! I sometimes get chills! Yes, it is genius, but I know in my bones that it isn’t ~cool~ to love it in the year 2022.
Let’s speed along.
Katherine and Peter find a speech Betsy wrote about Kat and the Frog Hollow Angel. In it—Robert’s mom, mind you—expresses all that they want to do with the community center. Expresses that she wishes their future child will have Katherine’s loving and generous spirit. If that’s not a heart-crushing-soul-changing-guilt-trip, I don’t know what is.
Peter and Robert have a ❤️2❤️ about Foodstuff. How Robert has always called it a family business, not because it is, but because he wants it to be. Robert confesses that he never felt secure as a child because his father, Bob, gave all his money, time, and love to others outside of the family, and that he worked so hard to provide these things for Peter because he never wanted him to feel alone and helpless like he did as a child. THESE TWO LONELY BOYS! OH MY GOSH.
Peter suggests they do both—provide for the family and for the community. He wants to be in the family business—not as the future boss, but to create a charitable division. And he wants to start with the old Rooty Tooty 🙂
Great news. Peter and Rob have been deScrooged, but there are still a few more minutes of Christmas magic left. For Kat! After all, this assignment has really been about her. All she must do is choose her future. Sure, she can go about still ghosting or she can choose something much different. If she can imagine her dream, if she knows in her heart where she wants to go—she can. Simple as that.
So, Miss Katherine steps through those double doors of The Great Unknown and is reborn, fully knowing what she wants her future to be—reopening the Rooty Tooty with Peter in honor of Betsy and Bob’s dream, the one that is also her own, and creating a loving life with Peter.
And—snap!—these things happen! The Rooty Tooty is open! The Baron Boys are happy! Kat and Pete are in love! They kiss! The End…or should I say…The Beginning (sry wow barf)!
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Loved it.
Fifth, It’s time for the review!
I rate Ghosts of Christmas Always a Rootin’ Tootin’ Cowboy Cat T-Shirt which is a 6/5 (?!?!) on my scale of Shirts I Want! This movie just made The Hallremark history!!!!!!!! A 6 out of 5! This is an A++!
The Scale (and some links)
- One of those sexual innuendo Hollister shirts from 2004
- A Dan Flashes shirt—sorry too complicated for me
- White ribbed turtleneck from Old Navy to go under my Christmas cardigans
- Those sweatshirts where they embroider your cat’s face on them!
- A shirt of Guy Fieri as Santa Claus (please Discovery+ make Guy Fieri Santa in one of your movies. I mean you’ve got Bobby Flay and Duff in movies this year. Just do this for me and then make a shirt of it. Or better yet, hire me so I can write the movie and then design the shirt.)
- Rootin’ Tootin’ Cowboy Cat T-Shirt
Y’all babies, y’all babies. What does that mean? I don’t know. I’m from the Midwest so can I even say y’all? I’ve never even said “it’s fall y’all.” Almost once said “it’s autumn, y’alltumn” but that’s as close as I’ve gotten. Until now. Because I was walking around my house talking to myself in weird exclamations, probably pretending what I’d say if I were on a podcast discussing this episode (I am an embarrassing person), and what came out first was “y’all babies,” so there’s that. I also sent an audio message (see above transcript) to my BFFL who came over every Tuesday night FOR YEARS and watched Pretty Little Liars with me and my mom. I don’t trust Ezra Fitz but I love Ian Harding so it was wonderful to see him as a good guy.
I have given quite a few 5/5 scores in my day, mainly because I tend to only write about movies that I like/love. I’ve loved movies before. Even loved one last week and gave it a perfect score. But, I’m not sure any Countdown to Christmas movie will ever compare to how I reacted during my first viewing of Ghosts of Christmas Always. I’m glad I was alone. I really did sob. I really did scream at the TV. I really did crack up. And I did those things the second time when I watched it to take notes. I genuinely don’t know if you understand. I sprawled out on the floor and had tears streaming down my cheeks. I was also cracking up in a I can’t believe I’m crying like this sort of way, but also in a wow this is so great sort of way. The movie is so touching, but I also think I was plain grateful for it. I don’t know, I don’t know—I’m just happy.
Can we also talk about how that even the timeline of Ghosts of Christmas Always has a past, present, and future? Dang! This movie’s got some smart writers in Zac Hug and Annika Marks. When I saw Zac Hug promote this movie as his own, I yelled some form of hot dang! this is gonna be great!
I could go on and on about how great the cast is, how lovely the writing is, how smart it is, but surely you’ve gotten the idea already. You’ve just read 3,000 words about how I feel. That’s enough right?
Now, excuse me, while I go feel the snowflakes on my face and embrace the beautiful present.
Emma, The Hallremark ❤