For my neighbor three doors down - I call her DIY Donna - this movie must've come off like Hallmark had finally addressed her pleas. I'm sure there are other movies out there about crafting and hobbying. But this is the one that I saw. A Crafty Christmas Romance - a.k.a. Crafting Christmas - is actually a Lifetime flick, meaning that them Hallmark suits are still ghosting DIY Donna.
Probably some plot spoilers.
It's about Mandy (Nicola Posener) and her impromptu quest over the holidays. In the town of Everett, she operates a DIY crafts and hobby store and, uh-oh, I feel myself about to go off on a tangent. The store's got an interesting history. Mandy's great-grandfather founded it as a book store that morphed into a toy store when her parents ran it, and then Mandy took over.
Back to the plot. Mandy Page is thumbing thru an old, donated copy of A Christmas Carol when she finds an envelope within the pages. In it is one of the most amazing letters to Santa a child had ever written, and an old silver dollar. Mandy is moved enough that, right there and then, she determines to seek out the letter's author and return the letter and the coin.
Problem: the Santa letter was dated December 11, 1947. It's signed by a Judith, but that's not the most uncommon name. Mandy does have a starting point. The copy of A Christmas Carol was stamped with the name of the local church. Pursuing that clue, she's able to suss out who donated the box of dusty things that included the Dickens classic and Santa's letter.
At the Creek Hill Chapel, Mandy runs into contractor Jonah Canton doing some repairs for the pastor. Jonah (Bradford B. Johnson) is intrigued by the mystery letter and, let's not front, intrigued by the woman with the letter. When later asked by Mandy why he chose to help her, his response is "It's intriguing and kind of noble." Uh-huh, sure, fella.
A bit of background on Jonah. His construction business is in trouble. He's being flooded with past due bills and getting calls from upset bill collectors. It adds a bit of tension in that he needs money fast and the silver dollar happens to be a valuable proof coin now worth $30,000 if in mint condition.
Me, I enjoy those Christmas movies that carry elements of mystery and suspense. The Christmas Note (2015) is one excellent example, as is The Christmas Secret (2014), and, most recently, The Christmas Ring (2020). And now this one. A Crafty Christmas Romance is good at showing each step our amateur sleuths take to locate the elusive writer, that is, if she were even still alive. That Santa's letter dates back to over seventy years ago.
I've got two takeaways from this movie. One is get thee an employee willing to cover your shift while you're away chasing mysteries. Mandy ought to give the very supportive, very frank Gabby (Renny Grames) a raise. I actually wanted more scenes with Gabby. She seemed very interesting. I got sort of hooked on her character once I learned she met Mandy when she knocked on her door as a saleslady trying sell her solar panels.
My other takeaway is that, if you were in construction, be careful who you subcontract to. Jonah won't ever forget that plumber who didn't do his due diligence and whose carelessness left Jonah in the lurch.
The romance is okay. Maybe I'm just not built for sappy love stories. I dunno, I wasn't feeling the two leads in their scenes together. I guess they were okay. But their dialogue sometimes worked to undermine whatever chemistry they had. I can't help but eye-roll when I hear someone spouting corny lines like "If they saw what I see in you" or, when asked what their Christmas wish was, one person replied, "I asked for you to love me."
One of my rom-com pet peeves reared its lame old head again. In those shopworn scenes in which the two romantic leads lean in for a smooch, only to get interrupted, why don't they ever just straightaway go back in for another try? It's like, one interruption, and the moment's ruined, and you give up! Did these filmmakers go to Bollywood Cinema 101?
Ah, I'm just venting. Never mind it. I recommend this movie. I was into the whole investigative legwork, and the dead-ends and the coming up short, and the braving of several cross librarians and research clerks. But the payoff was worth it, and maybe I even teared up a bit.