Under the Christmas Tree is this year’s new LGBTQ+ focused holiday movie from Lifetime. Last year they released The Christmas Setup, which focused on two men falling in love around Christmas, and this year we are treated to a female focused relationship. Set in Camden, Maine this holiday movie involves a little drama and what everyone looks forward to most, cute romantic moments.
I was immediately excited for the debut of Under the Christmas Tree because it stars an actor I have been following for year and who was part of the reason I met my wife. Elisa Bauman plays Alma Beltran, the daughter set to take over the Camden Christmas Shoppe when her parents retire. For those who might not know, Bauman was in a web series titled Carmilla as Laura Hollis and when she and her co-star we slated to attend ClexaCon 2017 I jumped on the chance to go to Las Vegas. Without that trip I never would have met the love of my life. We both absolutely knew we had to watch this movie because of how this actor tied into our love story. Now shifting away from my love story with my wife and back to the story of Under the Christmas Tree. While Alma is already dealing with a lot of change, especially since her mom has hired a consultant whose suggestions are a bit more drastic than she expected, she is a bit flustered by the appearance of Charlie. Tattiawana Jones plays Christmas tree whisperer Charlie Freemont, who believes that the tree the Beltran’s typically decorate and light for the city of Camden every year is the perfect choice for the Governor’s tree lighting in Augusta.
When Alma first meets Charlie the gay panic is both adorable and so very real. She trips over her words and Charlie winds up being the cool and clearheaded person, which is definitely what Alma needs. While Charlie is trying to get the tree for the Governor the plot quickly shifts to her trying to establish a relationship with Alma. There is a gingerbread house competition where they wind up being partners, an adorable moment between Alma’s father and Charlie, and the sweetest and unexpectedly smokiest date night. The formula of a Lifetime Christmas movie does mean there will be a little bit of drama before the story is over, but this is truly such a sweet and happy watch. Bauman and Jones has fabulous on screen chemistry and in the interviews I’ve watched and listened to they are both delights.
Thanks to the podcast Lez Hang Out and Dana Piccoli of Queer Media Matters I was able to learn that both on screen and behind the camera of Under the Christmas Tree their was a lot of LGBTQ+ representation. Bauman also mentioned that she was able to have some influence over her wardrobe, which added to the overall queer feeling of the movie. Beyond the two leads, Ricki Lack appears as Marie, the co-owner of Noelle’s Bake Shop, who has a bit of a spirit of Christmas vibe. She and Alma work together and she is doing her best to sort of push the relationship along between Alma and Charlie. One of the fun things for fans of both Carmilla and Veronica Mars is that Enrico Colantoni plays Alma’s father. Colantoni had previously played Bauman’s father in Carmilla and while this was totally not planned it was so fun to see them together again.
Under the Christmas Tree is just genuinely a movie I loved watching. We even made sure to keep the TV on so that we could watch the rebroadcast later that evening. There were so many cute romantic moments between Alma and Charlie including kisses, which if you read my The Christmas House 2 review you know I was keeping an eye out for those moments. I definitely plan to watch this movie again before the season is over and when Lifetime releases it in a physical copy, which they have done in previous years with their holiday movies, I am buying it asap. While this may not convince them I would love to buy one of those Camden Christmas Shoppe mugs that Alma and her mom used throughout the movie. I actually checked the Lifetime store between airings in the hopes that it would be there, but sadly no. Lifetime, please make Camden Christmas Shoppe merch because I know there are folks who will buy it. You can watch Under the Christmas Tree on the Lifetime App.