Sometimes to judge a film ahead of choosing to watch it, or not, it helps to know some of the details of the story and characters, and not just the opinions of reviewers -- so you can make up your own mind.
Resort developer Madison Lane (cute Jennifer Finnigan) is tasked with finding a location for a new ski resort. Her preference is for the resort to be placed in Mountain Park, a big developed town with a shopping mall and much more. But her boss tells her to take a trip to Christmas, Colorado, a small hill town, to consider the location and the attractive incentive package they're offering. He thinks it could be cheaper to develop in a smaller town, and when the new ski resort boosts the town economy, the resort would benefit from the town's growth. On her way into town to meet with the mayor, Madison skids on some ice and knocks over the town's big Welcome sign, featuring Santa and the town's slogan, "Santa's favourite place, after the North Pole". (The town used to have a different name, but as its home-grown Christmas events grew, the residents voted to change the name to "Christmas". However, the economic downturn, and the closure of a major business in the town has meant that it can no longer afford municipal Christmas events - in fact, these have not occurred for many years.) Town Sheriff Gage McBride (rugged-looking Eric Mabius), a widower with two daughters, an enthusiastic pre-teen (pixyish Payton Lepinski, who played tragic Jonbenet Ramsey in Lifetime's "Who Killed Jonbenet"), and a grieving surly early teen (Lauren McNamara), gives Madison a ride into town so she can attend the meeting while the car is towed and repaired.
Little does Madison know that the town is on a desperate mission to convince Madison that Christmas is the best place for the new ski resort. The town committee welcoming Madison spontaneously tell her she must stay to see the Grand Lighting of the Town's Christmas Tree and Town Square Lights, and invite her to be the one to press the big button. This forces the town community to rush to procure a tree, and collect as many Christmas decorations as possible from individual families. Eventually the town square is decorated - Madison remarks that the decorations are diverse and look like families' decorations, and Gage replies that this is the home-town touch that makes the Christmas display so special.
A succession of other suddenly revived town Christmas events repeat this, nicely, including a Christmas ornament hunt, that is enhanced by Madison's own suggestion that the ornaments should have small discounts for local stores as part of the prize in the hunt. And there is the town's carol singing, which Madison also joins in, and enjoys.
Along the way, another narrative and emotional complication is that Gage is considering whether to take a career-promotion and move to Denver. His aunt (Susan Hogan), who has come to live with his family and help fill in for his wife, is keen for Gage to find a new partner. His wife's best friend (sultry Sarah Edmondson) is also discretely interested in Gage.
While stranded in the town (the auto repair shop concocts reasons for parts not being delivered, and later, as she gives positive reports on the town's Christmas events, her boss orders her to stay longer, and be more involved), Madison grows to love the community and the spirit of Christmas that runs throughout. She also helps Gage's teenage daughter switch from being cynical and touchy to being friendly and more cheerful, while the younger daughter is just ebullient all the time - and her enthusiasm is infectious for Madison!
The light-hearted activities take a darker turn when the would-be girlfriend, the best friend of Gage's wife, reveals the news that, as she thinks, Gage is going to abandon the town and move to Denver. Somehow this is resolved positively, without rebounding on the would-be girlfriend, who had acted selfishly, and resentfully, but did not mean to be malicious.
Eventually hard decisions have to be made. Certainly the people of Christmas think they want the ski resort development, but is adding a big new ski resort really the right move for the charming small town? Or would the town be better off keeping its family and community Christmas traditions unspoiled, and building on that in a natural way? Madison is torn. The Christmas community want the town to prosper, yet Madeline is reluctant to ruin it by over-development.
But ultimately this is a Hallmark Christmas movie and, aided by some unexpected plot twists, there are satisfyingly logically, and emotionally happy endings all around!