Christmas Gift CEvery holiday season, several cable channels have holiday movie marathons that feature actors who you may recall from a sitcom and drama or two.

This includes members of the Whedonverse. Many of them, specificially Jewel Staite and Kristy Swanson, have popped up. I wrote an article on these movies.


This week, though, Michelle Trachtenberg, aka Dawn Summers on Buffy, starred in a new holiday movie on Lifetime called The Christmas Gift. She plays a magazine writer named Megan who, at the age of 10, got a gift from a Secret Santa. Thing is, the giver gave his name to her, never thinking they’d ever meet

Since this is a holiday movie, they certainly do.

When she gets the gift back from her aunt, she decides to look him up. She heads to an architectural firm, and meets the head guy, played by Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs. That’s a blast from the past for baby boomers, because he was one of the Sweathogs from Welcome Back Kotter. He’s not her Secret Santa, but his son Wes Jr. (Sterling Sulieman) is. He’s been running a center for foster kids, which may close down because of plans to “revitalize” the neighborhood. This means knocking down buildings to build new ones.

This leads to a story idea on the center, while her ex-boyfriend and rival (who’s worried she wants to be him) writes aChristmas Gift B rival story on the redevelopment. She also decides not to say that she knows Wes Jr. was her Secret Santa because his center will be the story that will hopefully get her noticed at her magazine. She does tell him eventually, of course.

While watching it, I was surprised to see how much Michelle had changed in the past ten years. She was OK as the writer, but I wish she emoted a bit more. She seemed too subdued. The story avoided most holiday movie clichés, except for the annoying and jealous ex-boyfriend. Wes Jr.’s dad seemed to be cold, but surprised everyone at the end. It’s too bad it didn’t mention whether Megan’s aunt found a new place because the renovations would close her apartment building. That should have been covered, though the movie implied she would.

Also, according to People magazine, this was based on a true story

It’s a nice holiday movie with a good twist on the Secret Santa practice, and it is really good to see Trachtenberg again. Hopefully she’ll be in a few more movies in the future.

The Christmas Gift be shown several times this month on Lifetime, online and On Demand.

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