November Christmas

Produced By:  Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Each and every year around the holiday season, Hallmark offers up a holiday made-for-television movie special for the whole family to enjoy.  This year is no exception as the Hallmark Hall of Fame brings us November Christmas, a movie based on the short story of the same name by Greg Coppa.  The film aired on November 28, 2010 at 9PM EST and it was just the right sort of film to put you in the holiday spirit.

            When the Marks family moved into their new home in Rhode Island eight months ago, they knew that their journey would be a difficult one.  Eight-year-old Vanessa (Emily Alyn Lind) was battling cancer and much of their time would be spent in a hospital trying to get that cancer under control.  Keeping mostly to themselves, their neighbors had no clue what the family was going through until Tom Marks (John Corbett) arrives at his neighbor’s farm looking for pumpkins in the middle of August.

            At first Jess Sanford (Sam Elliott) thinks this strange, but when Tom arrives shortly afterwards wondering about Christmas trees and Jess notices how frail Vanessa seems, he puts two and two together.  The Marks family is trying to speed up the calendar year, bringing the happiness of the holidays to Vanessa early in case her battle with cancer is lost.  Understanding all too well what Tom Marks and his family are going through, Jess gets his whole community involved in making life more bearable for the Marks family, even if that means celebrating Christmas in November.

            Well, the folks at Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions, Inc. have done it again.  Although not quite the same story Coppa published in The Providence Journal in 1990, the movie has captured the spirit of the writing.  The spirit of giving of one’s self and offering support to a family in need is still there. 

            Sam Elliot is excellent as the gruff farmer with a heart of gold.  It was nice to see Karen Allen again in the role of Claire Sanford his loving and supportive wife.  Emily Alyn Lind is an adorable princess in the endearing role of the unassuming Vanessa Marks.  John Corbett and Sarah Paulson are wonderful as the worried Marks parents and Elizabeth McLaughlin is intriguing as the teenage would-be children’s book author with whom Vanessa fast becomes friends.

            November Christmas is the perfect movie for this time of the year with its message of giving and caring for our fellow man.  As we watch the story unfold, we begin to see a sense of purpose in Jess Sanford that slowly begins to create a light-heartedness of spirit in the man.  We see how much giving of one’s self to another in their most serious time of need can uplift our own spirits as much as the recipient’s. 

            I only have a couple of issues with this film.  One is that it made me use more tissues than I enjoy using on a regular basis, but I suppose that is a good thing after all.  The other is the ending.  Although I loved the ending, I felt there was something missing.  We know what happens to every main character except one, that of Tammy, the writer.  Where is she?  Does she achieve her dreams?  There is a theory out there that she may be the author of the children’s book about Vanessa that is read in the local library, but that has yet to be confirmed. 

            However, with those two issues…really only one…I have to say that November Christmas was an excellent film for this holiday season, perfectly capturing the spirit of the season in its story.  Hallmark Hall of Fame does it again!


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