Lifetime Christmas Movie Review: A Christmas in Tennessee (dir by Gary Yates)


How do they celebrate Christmas in Tennessee?

With a lot of down home love!

Or, at least, that’s what I learned from watching this Lifetime Christmas movie.

A Christmas In Tennessee is the latest in a long line of Lifetime Christmas movies that make a big deal about where they’re set.  In the past, we’ve had Christmas in Mississippi and a Christmas in Vermont and I imagine that, at some point, we’ll have a Kansas Christmas or an Iowa Christmas.  The thing that these films always have in common is a strong sense of nostalgia.  These are films that tell us, “You can run off to New York, California, or Toronto but your heart will always remain in either the South or one of the smaller New England hamlets.”

In the case of the film, it’s Alison Bennett (Rachel Boston) who attempted to leave town, heading off to the big city so that she could become a big time French pastry shop.  However, when she became pregnant, she moved back home and got a job working in her family’s bakery.  Now, years later, it appears that the bakery is about to go out of business and her daughter, Olivia, is writing letters to Santa in which she begs Santa for money.  Since the town traditionally publishes all letters to Santa in the newspaper, Alison is worried that everyone is going to realize how bad her situation is.

Meanwhile, Matthew (Andrew W. Walker) has come to town.  Matthew is charming and handsome and actually rather nice but he works for a real estate developer who wants to buy the town square.  Matthew is ambitious.  He wants a promotion.  The only way he’s going to get it is to get his hands on that property.  However, to do that, he has to convince Alison to sign over the land to him.  Alison could really use the money but there’s no way that she’s going to betray the town that she calls home.  That’s not the way things are done in Tennessee!

And then …. okay, let me stop to catch my breath here.  There’s a lot going on in this movie.

*breathes*

Okay …. and then, two mysterious strangers stop by the bakery.  One of them has a white beard and a jolly manner.  The other is his wife and is played by Caroline Rhea.  Olivia takes one look at these two strangers and decides that 1) the man is Santa Claus and 2) Santa loves her mother’s cookies!  It’s time to write another letter to Santa.

Well, of course, Olivia’s letter about Santa’s favorite cookies goes viral.  (It even appears as a story on “Buzz News.”)  So, can Alison use her new found fame to save the town?

A Christmas in Tennessee is okay.  How you react to it will probably have a lot to do with how you feel about Lifetime and Hallmark Christmas films in general.  If you like them, you’ll like this one.  At heart, it’s a sweet movie and both Rachel Boston and Andrew W. Walker give sincere performances.  It’s an idealized version of Christmas and who doesn’t love that this time of year?

I look forward to discovering which state we’ll visit next year.

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