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Checking in on our Hallmark Christmas movie

By Ronnie Cameron

“Carve the turkey, turn the ball game on / Make Bloody Mary’s ‘cause we all want one / Send somebody to the Stop ‘N Go / We need some celery and a can of fake snow.” – Robert Earl Keen

December 2018 – We should check back in with Donna and Lance, the couple living in the quaint village of Bubbling Springs, Vermont, who reunited back in the 2018 Hallmark Christmas movie, “Donna and Lance Reunite in Bubbling Springs at Christmas.”

You may recall Donna toiled tirelessly on the Madison Avenue streets of gold in the advertising industry. She perched precariously on the corporate ladder, hoping any day to be named partner in her prestigious firm. By gosh, she deserved it, often working 80 hours a week with absolutely no chance of any social life except for her fiancé Brett but feeling that sacrifices she made now would pay dividends in the future.

Sasha, her sassy, streetwise secretary, worked tirelessly to keep Donna grounded, often spouting off sharp witticisms designed to keep our heroine from going medieval on the boss, a bitter, slightly older lady who entered the autumn of her life with nothing to show for years of dedicated work. Sasha could intuit that Donna was headed on the same trajectory as the boss lady, and she often warned young Donna of the perils of workaholism, but grains of sand flying off the grindstone blinded our Donna.

Fate intervened. December 2018, Donna’s father slipped on the ice in front of his Christmas ornament factory in Bubbling Springs and broke his hip. Since Donna was an only child, the burden of helping her mother run the factory during peak season fell squarely on her tiny but capable shoulders.

The crusty old boss lady didn’t want Donna to take a leave of absence during December, the very time customers clamored for ad copy to sell their Christmas trinkets, but she finally caved in and allowed Donna two weeks to shore up things up in Bubbling Springs and get back to the corporate grind. Donna’s sassy, streetwise secretary Sasha filled her head with encouragement with witticisms such as, “Girl, you best leave this mess and go on home. Everything will be here when you get back. We ain’t going nowhere!” Brett the fiancé pouted like a slighted schoolboy.

Donna fretted endlessly over leaving Brett and the corporate ladder, but she knew in her heart that she was the only hope her parents had to keep them from losing the Christmas ornament factory that had been in the family for over 100 years. Reluctantly, Donna packed her two-weeks’ worth of belongings in her Louis Vuitton luggage and headed to Bubbling Springs.

She settled into the routine of running the factory easily enough, but her boss lady and that piece of trash (Sasha’s words) Brett gave her absolutely no peace; greed fueling the boss lady and insecurity eating at Brett’s soul. One afternoon, after a marathon session on the phone with the aggravating duo back in the city, Donna visited the Christmas tree farm to purchase the perfect tree for her parents’ farmhouse on the outskirts of the village. She hoped that picking out a tree would quiet the nagging echoes of boss lady and Brett reverberating in her mind.

As she perused the tree lot, with Dan Fogerberg’s “Same Old Ange Syne” playing on the speakers, she rounded the corner and ran squarely into her high school sweetheart, Lance, who was at the lot to pick out the perfect tree for his empty house since his wife Claire had tragically died six months prior. He hoped a tree might help ease his pain. Christmas had always been Claire’s favorite holiday, and though no Christmas would ever be the same without his beloved partner, Lance would honor her memory by donning a tree with glitter and ornaments, many of which had been purchased at Donna’s factory over the years. He and his Golden Retriever Butch searched and searched for the right tree.

Donna and Lance quickly rekindled a romance ended years earlier when Donna left Bubbling Springs to pursue the bright lights of Madison Avenue. On Christmas Eve, at precisely 6 p.m., the two married in the town gazebo on the square while the community looked on. Donna unceremoniously dumped Brett, quit her job with the old, crusty boss lady, said her goodbyes to Sasha and moved to Bubbling Springs to run the Christmas ornament factory. At last, her father could retire and spend the rest his life with his wife of 45 years.

December 2022 – Things aren’t going so well in Bubbling Springs.

At first, Donna thrived in her new position at the factory and she and Lance adored each other. But, as time went on, Donna realized that the internet in Bubbling Springs was slow as molasses in January, and Lance, despite his cool looking flannel shirts, Red Wing boots and lumberjack beard, was not all that (as Sasha would say). Lance had a wandering eye and liked to chase the skirts. He had flings with the clerk down at the A&P and the teller at Bubbling Springs Community Back simultaneously. He thought he was invisible and impervious to detection because he was bad to drink and even once skidded his Jeep off an embankment into the frozen creek.

His dog Butch took the opportunity to bolt and had congress with the neighbor’s exotic French Poodle, and the neighbor lady was demanding satisfaction. She insisted Lance pay for her Poodle’s abortion and to neuter Butch.

Donna’s mother and father had never spent so much time together, and after a year of togetherness, they split up, and her mother ran off with Grant, the used car salesman. Her father spent his days watching soap operas, cussing at the television, and eating Ramen noodles.

Back in the city, Brett ended up marrying Sasha, who changed her mind about old Brett once Donna left town. Of course, that didn’t work out either, and Brett ended up homeless, and Sasha took over the crusty boss lady’s position when she died suddenly at her desk. Sasha wasted no time at her position, and when the detectives came and arrested her for embezzling company funds to sustain her drug habit, she screamed to the cameras that she wasn’t suicidal, and that Jeffery Epstein did not hang himself.

Of course, with all this going on, poor Donna couldn’t keep the factory afloat, and the cruel banker man refused to extend any more credit and she lost everything. Donna ended up waiting tables at the Bubbling Springs Waffle Shack. Soon enough, her sciatica started acting up and she went on disability and now spends her days with her dad watching soap operas on television, wondering what Lance is up to. She eats a lot of Ramen noodles and went from 110 to 180 in a quick hurry. She blames the weight gain on her anxiety meds. Like her father and Lance, she’s bad to day drink.

Moral of the story – No one likes fruitcake after all.