Are you a fan of Christmas movies produced by that company we usually associate with greeting cards? I’ll admit up front that while they may not suit my own taste in movies exactly, I have to admire how prolific the company is. This season they have reportedly cranked out 22 new offerings. Ralph Stanley in his most productive recording period of the 1970s could only have hoped for this level of output.
I’m also impressed with their consistency: they all seem to have “Christmas” in the title (“The Christmas House,” “The Christmas Hat,” “Christmas in Woody Plains,” etc.), and they all follow this same plot line, more or less: a cynical businesswoman meets a widowed architect who loves Christmas and owns a beautiful log house (which he designed) and has a difficult-to-win-over daughter, but the businesswoman wins her over anyway, thanks to the intervention of a benevolent, bearded stranger who turns out to be Santa Claus. Then everyone bakes cookies.
Always searching for a marketing angle, I thought to myself, couldn’t bluegrass music be worked into these movies in some way? If they won’t do it, can we just produce our own? This could be like having 22 new Oh Brothers Where Art Thou? every December. Think of the boom this could generate? And in a month when most of us have no gigs to speak of at all.
The plot lines for these proposed movies wouldn’t have to vary much from the formula above; they would just need to have a bluegrass music tie-in (and a well-marketed soundtrack). Here are a few ideas:
A Banjo For Christmas
A successful yet cynical classical violinist spends a week at a beautiful western North Carolina B&B where she meets a banjo-playing widower who loves Christmas. They bond while trimming the B&B’s Christmas tree, and she is reminded of the joys of Christmases past in her life. He teaches her Christmas Time’s a-Comin’ and they bake cookies. They realize they’re both rich and buy the B&B from its owner, who turns out to be Santa Claus. Starring Candace Cameron Bure and Noam Pikelny.
A Christmas Festival
A hardened festival promoter launches a Christmas bluegrass festival but is only concerned with how much money it will make. As his event continues to sink because he has the same small audience and the same bands every year, his heart is melted by a young family band who do an inspirational bluegrass performance of It’s a Marshmallow World. He grows fond of the talented children and remembers the true meaning of Christmas. Through them a romance develops with their mother, whose husband was killed in a snowmobile accident the previous year. She sings Santa Baby to him and they bake cookies. Starring Andrew Walker, Rhonda Vincent.
The Christmas Mix
A band has booked a week of studio time during the busy holiday season. Everything seems to go wrong for them, from the bass player/vocalist getting a bad cold, to the banjo player falling on the ice and breaking an arm. They’ve all lost the spirit of the holiday, until the soft-hearted engineer, who loves Christmas, teams up with the head of their record label—who we later discover is really Santa Claus—to get them three extra studio days. A budding romance develops between the engineer and the lead singer during the vocal overdubs session (her husband had recently died from an unspecified illness), and on mix day, he decorates the studio for Christmas and serves cookies he baked himself. Starring Danica McKeller, Ben Surratt.
O Christmas Trio
A lonely architect with a passion for Christmas and bluegrass mandolin spends a holiday in a lovely, snow-covered vacation cabin with his reluctant twin daughters, as they try to come to terms with the death of his wife, their mother, who was killed earlier that year in a hang-gliding mishap. The cabin is one of several owned and operated by a beautiful woman who has become jaded about Christmas. The architect melts her heart, though, when he decorates his cabin for Christmas with local evergreens, and she overhears him and his daughters playing Last Christmas using the mandolin he built himself. The owner, who had also lost her mother at an early age, bonds with the daughters. The kindly, bearded cabin maintenance man is really Santa Claus. Starring Candace Cameron Bure, Ashby Frank, The Price Sisters, David Grier.