Tag Archives: Festive TV Movie

Festive Rewind: “A Mom for Christmas”

23 Dec

It’s TV Ate My Wardrobe’s first festive season and to mark this occasion we are hosting a very special rewind series. What this means is that we will be featuring a whole host of guest posts and in the spirit of the holidays we have asked a variety of writers to discuss a festive episode of their choice. These will be appear on the site over the next couple of weeks and there’s an eclectic mix including teen dramas, science fiction, animation, comedy, drama and more to get you in the celebratory mood. Or to at least give you plenty of suggestions of TV to watch over the break.

Kerensa Cadenas is treating us to something a little different for the Festive Rewind series with the 1990 TV movie “A Mom for Christmas” (I’ll be wrapping my gifts while watching this beauty later).

A Mom for ChristmasI don’t remember exactly how old I was when I first watched A Mom For Christmas but I do remember that it was via the free preview of the Disney Channel–me and my sister’s favorite tri-annual happening. For whatever reason, the made for TV movie starring Olivia Newton-John  became a holiday staple for Jillian and I, although there was a dark period while teens/early adults where our favorite couldn’t be found.

Made in 1990, A Mom For Christmas falls into the grand tradition of made for TV Christmas movies–formulaic, cheesy, weirdly lit and completely and terribly enjoyable. Jess is an angsty 11 year old who haunts the aisles of Milliman’s–a local department store. Unlike other girls her age, she’s not there to pour over sterling handled brushes, scrunchies, leggings or other 90s fashion staples–she’s there to people watch–mainly the mother/daughter pairs holiday shopping. Jess’s mom died at three, so it’s just her and her workaholic but SUPER hot dad. Jess has fixated on a pair of mannequins–a little girl and Olivia Newton-John esque looking woman–mainly because they represent what she’s been longing for. With a little holiday magic and early 90s sorcery (which seemed to permeate kids/teen things), her favorite mannequin comes to life! The bond between Amy and Jess is immediate–as Jess gets to experience life/holidays with a mother figure and learns about the secret lives of mannequins (I know). Amy has to acclimate to being a human beyond what she can read in books and deal with falling for Jess’s foxy dad.

It’s an absurd premise (and one directly stolen from Mannequin) but it’s packed with mannequin hijinks, tween angst, hazy montages, and the BEST 90s fashions–including many off the shoulder silk blouses. Did I mention there’s music? There’s definitely a montage set to a tearful Olivia Newton-John ballad. In case you are worried, things work out pretty well for all involved. Objectively, it’s a terrible mess–steeped in equal parts holiday loneliness and 90s cheesiness with a hint of a movie of the week. But it’s a relic of that nostalgia–laughing over Olivia Newton-John’s long lace skirt paired with a baggy sweater or Jess’s pink hued nightstand lamp. As an adult, I’ll watch and catch all the mistakes or weird references: the cop who has been investigating the missing mannequin is trying to establish himself as a hard-nosed noir types cop, Amy says she’s 28, my current age, which seemed so grown up and now feels anything but. And even after seeing it so many times the ending will never make any sense.

Above all else, for me, it’s a family relic. Something my sister and I would watch while shaking presents and as we got older laugh about how awful it was. The best thing about A Mom For Christmas is that it is my holiday constant–it never changes. As everything else around me changes–my age, who I watch the movie with (2013: Crafting aunt and napping grandmother) and where what holiday sadness lies (2013: a grandfather shaped gap) it’ll remain my holiday comfort. Olivia’s wide eyed gaze, Jess’s messy braid and the hot dad’s graying temples never change.

Kerensa Cadenas is a writer living in Los Angeles. She is a staff writer for Women and Hollywood. She also writes for This Was TelevisionForever Young Adult, and Bitch magazine. She was the Research Editor for Tomorrow magazine. You can follow her on Twitter and read her ridiculous thoughts about teen television at her website.

Julie Hammerle

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