A Welcome Home Christmas Review: Operation Perfect Veterans Romance is a Success!
It’s OK if you’re dabbing at your eyes.
Who wouldn’t be after experiencing A Welcome Home Christmas, which was bursting with love in all of its forms, community, service, heart, and some magic too.
A Welcome Home Christmas had all of the right elements, perfectly combined to make a Christmas flick that stirred your soul. Operation Perfect Christmas Movies, much like Operation Santa Claus, was a rousing success.
The formula worked with Jana Kramer and Brandon Quinn giving us more than just your traditional lovable but cheesy leads.
It was about veterans and active soldiers, and it felt as if the movie did them justice in their portrayal by centering their service and touching upon the sacrifices and effects. And they did this without once feeling gimmicky.
We had the reunion of a military family, which is always enough to get the eyeballs leaking. We even had Michael reuniting with his military working dog, Otter.
Honestly, what is one supposed to do with all of these feelings?
Soup kitchens, and toy drives, and serving the poor, military families, and underprivileged — helping our veterans adapt and assimilate to life after service, hot cocoa competitions, Santa Claus, and a spunky, precocious middle-schooler.
My heart is so full right now, and there are too many “Feels” to contain.
Chloe was such a beautiful spirit as if being stunning wasn’t already enough. She was a veteran who worked hard to adapt after her honorable discharge from the Army, and she channeled all of her energy into finding new ways to serve.
On the surface, it almost felt cliche, but the more time we spent with Chloe, the easier it was to see that her devotion to so much charity, soup kitchens, and helping others was truly authentic and coming from a real place.
Her way of assimilating and finding her footing was to find structure in new ways. You couldn’t help but smile whenever the alarm on her watch went off. Even as a civilian, she kept that sense of structure and order from her time serving.
It was a real fear that she would stretch herself too thin. Chloe juggled so many things that it seemed as if it would catch up to her. However, she was a total superwoman the entire time.
How does she even do it?
Chloe never took on more than she could handle, and she didn’t mind eliciting help when needed, so she figured out the work-life balance better than her loved ones and colleagues gave her credit.
Her main job of counseling veterans who were inclined to have a hard time acclimating was inspiring and admirable, and she poured her heart into as much as she did anything else.
We didn’t need her boss to tell us that she was damn good at what she did and an invaluable resource for them, so when Michael’s file crossed her desk, you knew right off the bat that their inevitable love story would be rich and more layered than the traditional ones for these type of films.
It didn’t disappoint. The pacing was great, and in the best way possible, the actual romantic portion of their growing relationship felt almost secondary to their genuine connection as two people with similar experiences and dispositions working together for a greater good.
Their eventual love for each other wasn’t self-serving and was more of an extension of their shared love of being good people who love serving others. In that sense, doesn’t it make it one of the perfect veteran romances?
Chloe was such a go-getter. She was like the Energizer Bunny, who never stopped moving or finding ways to help. She had a solution or a backup plan for any and every situation.
Despite managing so many things at once, she had this incredible way of directing her attention where necessary and never allowing anything to fall short.
Nothing ever slipped through the cracks with her, and if it came close, she found a way to combine her focuses to maximize her effectiveness.
Chloe was a total Queen. And did I mention how stunning Jana Kramer is? She lit up the screen.
She displayed such sincerity, passion, and vulnerability throughout the film, and she was the absolute best.
It’s challenging to single out particular moments that were striking for Chloe when they were all great. Her relationship with her mother and sister was endearing and fun.
It’s on-brand to have the meddlesome mother pushing her toward a handsome, nice guy and her sister reminding her that romance is OK. They had her best interest at heart, and their constant prodding was nothing if not amusing.
Lynn, in particular, was hysterical. She was shameless in her attempts to set Chloe and Michael up.
It only came second to her determination to win that hot cocoa contest. Lynn was an absolute hoot, and keeping up with the tradition, she found her some love too with Tim Reid’s Peter O’Toole.
Again, the secondary middle-aged love story is top-notch. They’re always just as good as the primary romantic lead story. It’s the season of love, people!
On paper, if you looked at Chloe’s schedule, you could understand why she would argue she wasn’t in a place for love in her life.
She filled her hours and days with so much service that the only way she would have room was if the man in her life joined her in these endeavors.
Little did Chloe know, Michael was that man.
The Christmas Toy Drive would’ve been a case of Chloe biting off more than she could chew, but it was the perfect way for Chloe to help Michael settle into civilian life.
Initially, he was resistant to what she had to offer, but he was probably impressed by her hutzpah of driving all the way to his cabin when he missed their appointment.
It seemed he was impressed with her from that point forward. I love that by enlisting Michael’s help and skill-set, she could kill two birds with one stone and help everyone.
Michael was such a good guy. He was an Army veteran who spent a decade in the military. He was a former foster kid, and both experiences gave him an appreciation for community and camaraderie.
He loved and was great with kids and dogs. The man could sing, was excellent with his hands (pun considered but not intended, ahem), and could run down factoids about chemistry and mechanics that had a double meaning for the sparks flying between him and Chloe.
He also wore flannel and was ridiculously attractive.
Here’s a special shoutout to Brandon Quinn’s parents, and congratulations to him for his everything. Let the record show, I am a long-time Brandon Quinn fan, and him showing up in this perfect Christmas film was the birthday gift I didn’t know I needed.
All semi-shallow fangirling aside, like Kramer, Quinn’s performance as Michael was sound and heartening. You appreciated those moments when he’d subtly capture Michael getting lost in thought, reflecting on his life and experiences, or acknowledging the tough time he was having.
And when he realized he did need some aid, Michael jumped in with both feet, following Chloe’s lead and recognizing that managing Operation Santa Claus and working alongside her for the children and families was what he needed.
He proved to be as resourceful as she was with finding ways to spend time with her and immerse himself into her life, positively affecting her too.
It was adorable when he fixed her heater, talked about his childhood, and they shared their mutual love for Silent Night.
And while he wanted to spend more time with her, he also knew how important it was for her to see the Toy Drive through. Michael was a clever one for arranging her next case, his army buddy, to work on the Toy Drive as well.
They all got what they wanted and needed from the two men being mischievous busybodies. It was a funny moment, too.
Michael also embraced Savannah, practically becoming her Big Brother every bit as much as Chloe was her Big Sister.
The two of them guilting the store owner into donating to Operation Santa Claus was one of the cutest little scenes.
The only thing topping that moment with Savannah, and of course, how close she and Chloe were throughout, was the emotional reunion between Savannah and both of her deployed parents on Christmas.
It was the only thing she wanted for Christmas, and she was such a generous, considerate, bright young girl. She worked hard to ensure other kids had the best Christmas, too.
If anyone deserved that reunion with her parents, Savannah did.
It gets so dusty around this time of year, yeah? Watery eyes are such an inconvenience!
Everyone went above and beyond to make sure all of these deserving kids and families got a decent Christmas, and it was a beautiful sight.
Even the Santa Claus appearance was enough to have you bawling like a baby.
It was so much love throughout this film in all of its forms, and it’s the exact kind of feel-good we need these days.
Fortunately, A Welcome Home Christmas was straightforward. The only time they relied on the classic misunderstanding was when Chloe assumed the girl Michael missed was a fellow human soldier and not the dog he worked with for ten years.
It was such a small little thing, and they didn’t ham it up too much, so it worked. Between that and the shift from client/counselor to two friends, the development of their romance felt right, natural, and never felt inappropriate or questionable.
Of course, the dog angle also worked because of how it led to yet another tear-jerker moment when Chloe, O’Toole, and Harlan pulled strings to reunite Michael with Otter.
In the end, it was the only thing left Michael needed to feel on solid ground.
If a handsome man subtly wooing a beautiful woman wasn’t enough, or the same attractive man trying to give children the best Christmas isn’t, they gave us hot lumberjack Zaddy hugging his furbaby.
They knew how to make us emotional.
It was such a well-balanced film as there were just as many laughs and smiles as there were tears. And a personal favorite.
Do you appreciate this film as much as I did? What were your favorite moments? Did it inspire you to give more and be more charitable this holiday season? Did you get all the feels?
A Welcome Home Christmas is officially on the list of of my favorite Lifetime Christmas movies, and I would love to hear your thoughts about it below in the comments.
If you would love to rewatch this film, Lifetime is airing an encore presentation of A Welcome Home Christmas on Veteran’s Day, November 11, at 8/7c.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.