From The Side of the Road… Hallmark Christmas movies with a bluegrass twist

Last year around this time, I offered up some potential Hallmark Christmas movie plots with a bluegrass element, because, you know, we all need the money. Last year, I had no idea how much we’d be needing the money.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the Hallmark Christmas movie phenomenon: they crank out a staggering number of new Christmas movies every year, and COVID-19 hasn’t slowed them down one bit. There are over 40 new titles for 2020.

All of these movies are essentially standard formulaic rom coms, complete with chance meetings of architects and wedding planners, but in Christmas settings, with more sweaters. They often feature attractive B&B owners, Christmas event planners, a compulsory cookie-baking scene, and the occasional intervention of guardian angels and/or Santa Claus. 

They have titles like Christmas at Holly Lodge, A Christmas Wish, and A Christmas Detour.

These movies give us warm fuzzy feelings, sometimes to a fault, as if we’re wearing wool long johns in Florida. They serve an important function, though: they help spread Christmas cheer at a time when the rest of our channels are filled with painful reality TV, or just painful reality. They also employ wholesome-looking 30-something former child actors, soap actors, and Candace Cameron Bure. Is it wrong to ask that they also do something to boost the fortunes of bluegrass music, or at least throw us a bone (tied up in a red bow) here and there?

Here are a few more ideas for some future Hallmark Christmas movies with a bluegrass twist:

Bluegrass Christmas Tree

A North Carolina Christmas tree farm is run by a divorced woman (Candace Cameron Bure) who is looking for ways to revive the family business. A New York corporate executive (Rob McCoury) happens to be staying at a quaint B&B just down the road, and has just taken up the banjo to help him heal after the recent death of his wife, who was killed the previous year in a tragic skiing accident. The two meet and she is charmed by his banjo playing. He suggests that she put on a winter bluegrass festival at her tree farm. She thinks that’s a terrible idea but the romance blooms anyway when they end up baking Christmas cookies together in the B&B kitchen (against local health regulations).

A Christmas Mandolin

A young ambitious event planner (Sierra Hull) is hired to organize a town Christmas festival in Colorado, but she’s become a Christmas cynic. Then she meets the town’s new mayor (Chad Michael Murray), a young widower who loves everything about the holiday. At first they clash, but with the help of a charming, mandolin-playing homeless man (Chris Thile), who turns out to be an angel, she learns the true meaning of Christmas, takes up the mandolin herself (and masters it surprisingly quickly), and soon romance is kindled with the mayor, especially after she bonds with his 12-year-old daughter. They bake cookies in the mayor’s grand yet charming residence, and he gives her a mandolin for Christmas that had been built by his great grandfather, Lloyd Loar.

Christmas Harmony at Maple Ridge

A Nashville songwriter who is down on his luck (Ronnie Bowman) takes a week-long holiday in Vermont to try to get over writer’s block. The owner of the B&B where he’s staying (Lacey Chabert) turns out to be an aspiring bluegrass singer who has been too busy with inn business after the death of her husband to pursue her dreams. With some encouragement from the inn’s cook (Dan Tyminski), who we later realize is actually Santa Claus, they begin writing a Christmas song together, and a romance is sparked. Later, the two of them and Santa bake cookies together, trim the B&B Christmas tree, and work up a three-part harmony arrangement of their song, My Christmas Maple Sugar.