Plot: Kathy (Kellie Martin) used to love Christmas, but since the death of her husband, she has dreaded the holiday season. The first Christmas without her beloved is not going to be easy, so she is just going to make her famous cookies and focus on her work at her late husband’s bicycle shop. Other than the cookies, Kathy plans to avoid the rest of the seasonal touches and if she hadn’t been baking the treats since childhood, even that tradition might have been abandoned. But when she is lured onto a Christmas tree lot and meets owner Tim (Cameron Mathison), he gives her a special ornament and the two strike up a friendship. As a little time passes, Kathy begins to open up, thanks to Tim’s comforting presence and her best friend’s advice, though she is still unable to totally embrace the holidays again. Can she find her Christmas spirit or will her past hold back her future?
Entertainment Value: This Hallmark holiday movie is more serious than most, so if you prefer a lighter, more humorous type seasonal romance, The Christmas Ornament isn’t going to hit the mark there. But if you like a more grounded, character driven holiday movie, then you might appreciate this one. I found the pace a little too slow and to be honest, the story and characters weren’t interesting enough to trade off the humor and brisker pace. The theme of coping with loss and moving on is a common one for Hallmark, but this is a much more deliberate style approach than most, which the movie isn’t able to support. If the story or characters had more depth, perhaps the slower pace and focus on emotion could have worked more, but instead we have an uneven, often dull experience instead. I appreciate the attempt at a more earnest, gradual kind of emotional narrative, but The Christmas Ornament is too thin and the cast doesn’t come through with the dramatic chops. Even so, Hallmark devotees might find enough to like here, so if you’re a fanatic for the channel’s Christmas movies, perhaps you will get more out of this than I did.
Hallmark regular Kellie Martin has the lead here and while she is competent as always, I wouldn’t rank her as one of my personal favorites. I think she does what the material requires, as she always does, I just don’t connect with her performances as much as I do with some of Hallmark’s other staple leads. Martin is better suited to the more serious stories like this one, as her comedic skills aren’t her strong suit, but in the case of this movie, she flounders at times. I think it is a combination of overly serious material and the slow pace, putting the emphasis on her character and again, she does fine, but just doesn’t deliver a lead level effort. But if you’re a fan of her work, then you’ll likely appreciate her turn here more. Cameron Mathison is a solid, if forgettable romantic interest and he is given a little more to work with than most of the Hallmark hunks, which was a welcome touch. The cast also includes Matthew Kevin Anderson, Jewel Staite, and Brendan Meyer.