Time for Her to Come Home for Christmas (2023) Movie Script

[festive instrumental plays]
O Christmas tree
O Christmas tree...
G major.
How lovely
are your branches
O Christmas tree
O Christmas tree
How lovely
are your branches
Great job!
Your bough so green
in summertime
Stay bravely green
in wintertime
O Christmas tree
O Christmas tree
How lovely
are thy branches
How lovely are thy branches
All right. Y'all ready to try?
I've been practicing
during my lunches.
The other teachers
are calling it
"dinner and a show".
You should be proud
of your progress.
You've come a long way
in six months.
I can't wait to see
the look on my son's face
when I pull out the guitar
at our Christmas party.
And what about you, Carly?
What are your plans
for Christmas?
I'm heading
out of state, actually.
A town called Waterford Creek.
I leave tomorrow.
Wow! Wonderful.
Do you have any family
down there?
Nope. No.
I got offered a job,
just for the holidays.
My! Must be
a very special student.
"Students," actually.
I'm helping a choir prepare
for their Christmas Eve
It'll be good to get out of town
for a little while.
Uh, should we get started?
We can call this
the dress rehearsal
for your big show.
Now, remember, don't rush.
Just nice and steady.
Music is all about timing.
Excuse me.
Is this the one
for Waterford Creek?
[Carly] Thank you.
I'll take a hot cocoa, please?
With cinnamon.
Thank you.
Merry Christmas.
You don't have any cinnamon
by chance, do you?
[Barista] Mm-hmm.
Oh. Thank you.
Thank you.
My sister's
been sending me updates
about the family tree.
Here it is...
After they picked it at the lot,
and after they put it
in the base...
after they realized
it was crooked.
The star's my favorite part.
[music swells on headphones]
Snow globes
sitting on the mantel
Wreaths hanging on the door
Red and green sweaters
And flannels
And eggnog being poured...
Oh! We're here?
Lights hung up
Stockings in a row
But that's all just
The star on top
of the tree
The bow on top of the gift
It's friends and family
That make Christmas
what it is
It's the laughter and love
It's all you need to believe
And all the rest
Is just the star
on top of the tree
The star on top
of the tree
The smell of cookie dough
and flour
Santa's almost here...
[Matthew] Merry Christmas.
...It's the best time
of the year
and roast chestnuts
Sleigh bells ring
But that's all just
The star on top
of the tree
The bow on top of the gift
It's friends and family
That make Christmas
what it is
It's the laughter
and love
All you need to believe
And all the rest
Is just the star
on top of the tree
The star on top
of the tree
The bow on top of the gift
It's friends and family
That make Christmas
what it is
It's the laughter
and love
All you need to believe...
My big brother's home!
Oh, hey, Mom.
You're home.
- Yep.
- Mwah!
- Hey, Riley. How you doin'?
- [laughs]
[case settles with a thud]
[exhales, chuckles softly]
[knocking at door]
Is this too loud?
You look beautiful.
Maybe she needs some time.
It'll be fine.
Hello there.
Merry Christmas!
Um... hello!
I'm Susan Shepard.
Um, we spoke on the phone,
and this is my husband, John.
Ah, from Waterford Creek Church.
I-I'm sorry.
I wasn't expecting...
[deep breath]
Hi. I'm Carly.
It's nice to meet you both
face to face.
It is very nice to meet you,
Carly. Finally.
Oh, yes. It is so lovely
to meet you.
I hope that this place
I-is cozy enough,
and if it is not,
we can get you
anything you need.
Now, I know that you've had
a really long trip,
but if you're up for company,
we would love to welcome you
to our little town.
And we hope you like
chicken pot pie.
Susan's recipe.
It's delish.
I love it.
Um, come on in.
[giggles] Okay!
My mom was a music teacher, too,
so I had a guitar in my hand
before I could walk.
I wish I could play
a musical instrument.
She's being modest.
Susan has a lovely voice.
You'll hear it soon enough.
She's a member of our choir.
John, hush!
No shop talk.
Carly just got in.
I'd actually love to hear more.
Well, typically
the choir performs
three songs on Christmas Eve,
which we will leave
to your discretion.
We're having
a Sunday service tomorrow.
I'd love for you to join us.
You can see
our little choir in action.
Yeah. I'd love to.
Ten out of ten.
The Christmas Tree whisperer
Excellent form!
We'll need you to help
when we decorate
for the "Christmas Eve-Eve"
Oh, it's your turn
to host again this year?
I can't wait.
[Diane chuckles]
Has Riley told you?
Told me what?
I... joined the choir.
It's about time!
You can't keep a voice
like yours on the sidelines.
Wait. You've been
texting me all day.
You sent me
15 "Christmas tree" emojis.
You didn't think to share this?
I was excited
to tell you in person.
Well, I'm proud of you.
Good things happen
when you're brave enough
to put yourself out there.
Susan Shepard said
they've finally gotten
a new choir director.
- Is that so?
- A very talented musician
from Philadelphia.
Maybe she was on your bus.
I wish I'd known.
I'd have spent
the last five hours
singing the praises
of her newest recruit.
I... I talked to Dan Turner.
He said I can
start at the fire station
as soon as I take
the written exam.
That's wonderful, honey.
It'll be so nice
to have you home again.
The best Christmas gift
I could ask for.
My pick.
[sighs] Where did it go?
I thought I might find you here.
Matty! Ah!
Come here! [laughing]
Oh! Oh...
When did you get in?
Today! A few hours ago.
I helped Ma with the tree,
and then you were my next stop.
Look at you.
Gosh, I can't believe
it's been five years.
Your mom told me
you're moving home?
Yeah. For good.
I've even got a place lined up,
but renos won't be done
until the new year,
so I'm staying with my mom
over the holidays.
I know. She told me.
I really missed you.
You know that?
I missed you, too.
Welcome home.
[Pastor John]
So, as Christmas approaches,
let us remember its tenets...
Peace on Earth
and goodwill towards men.
Let us not discard them
with our wrapping papers
and bows...
but carry it with us
into the new year.
Now I would like to invite
our choir up
to perform
a special selection for us.
Well, go.
[disjointed, overlapping]
Hark, the herald...
[pitchy, chaotic]
Angels sing
- Sing
- Glory to the
- [loudly] Newborn king
- The newborn king
[all, out of tune]
Peace on Earth
And mercy mild
- God and sinners reconciled
- [boldly] Reconciled
Joyful all ye nations rise
[off-key, pitchy]
Join the triumph
Of the skies
[voices cracking]
Angelic hosts proclaim
Christ is born
in Bethlehem
The herald
Angels sing
- Glory to
- [soulfully] Glory to...
[overlapping, off-key]
The newborn king
[grandly] Ki-i-i-ing
[congregation applauds]
Thanks so much for being here.
Tyler, you get bigger
every week.
See you next Sunday.
Hello, Carly!
You made it.
How did you enjoy
the sermon today?
Yeah, it was wonderful.
And our choir?
They're... um...
A little muddled?
[relieved chuckle]
Well, what they lack
in direction,
they make up for in enthusiasm.
I was actually hoping
we could have a quick word
about what
your expectations are.
I'd like to show you something.
For generations,
the choir has been
a treasured part
of our congregation.
Wow. [chuckles]
Wait. Is that...
- Mm-hmm.
- [laughing]
[deep breath]
The year we met.
The start of my ministry.
Voice of an angel... my Susan.
Boy, oh, boy, when I tell you
they used to be good,
I am not exaggerating.
Folks from neighboring counties
used to pile into
our little chapel
every Sunday to hear them sing.
With all due respect...
what happened?
Have a seat.
Well, we've struggled
the last few years, Carly.
Our, uh, former choir director,
Miss Jane, she was fantastic,
but then she moved away,
along with some of
our stronger vocalists,
and, well, we thought
we'd be able to swing it
without her,
but as you heard,
we could use the help.
So why now?
Um... oh. Um, well...
when we saw your post,
it, um...
inspired us.
Truly, Carly, w-we thought
you were exactly what we needed
to rebuild the choir...
Youthful energy, passion,
new ideas.
So, after Susan and I
saw your profile...
we wanted to meet you.
Two weeks is not
a very long time.
You sure do have
your work cut out for ya.
I'll try my best,
but I'm no miracle worker.
I understand.
It's not always possible
to recapture the past,
and I didn't show you all this
to burden you with expectations.
Why did you show me?
To inspire you.
It never hurts to be reminded
of what's possible...
especially at Christmas.
We appreciate any guidance
you can offer,
but, uh...
you leave the miracles to Him.
I think that was
a very spirited rendition.
At least we were better
than last week.
Then we should celebrate.
Eggnog pancakes at the Orchard?
Oh, that sounds good to me.
[laughs] Oh!
I think I left my purse
in our seat.
I'll get it.
I'll meet you at the car.
[Alice] Bye, Matthew!
- [bump]
- Oh!
- I'm so sorry!
- No, no. That was...
I didn't see.
I wasn't... I wasn't looking.
[chuckles awkwardly]
Have we... met before?
I don't think so.
I'm, uh...
I see you've met
our fabulous new choir director.
Oh. "The talented musician
from Philadelphia."
Most people just call me Carly.
It's nice to meet you.
- "Matthew."
- Oh.
Since when?
Well, I've to get to work.
Bye, all.
Bye, Jenny.
Nice to meet you.
You too.
- Oh.
- Yeah.
[Carly] So I watched
the service on Sunday,
and I think this group
has a lot of potential.
We're terrible.
I wouldn't say "terrible".
Not good at all.
But that's why we have Carly.
She's here to help us.
Do you really think
we can get better?
[deep breath]
Being a choir isn't
just about singing well.
It's not?
Lucky for us.
It's about singing together.
Right now, you guys are moving
in all different directions,
so we have to get you
in harmony.
Let's start with an icebreaker,
so I can get to know you.
Uh, tell me your name
and why you decided
to join the choir.
I'll start.
I am Carly Bridges.
You can call me Carly.
I'm a Leo,
and I have been playing guitar
and singing my entire life.
How about you?
Well, as you know,
my name is Susan, Susan Shepard,
and I have always loved
the camaraderie it brings...
spending time with friends
and family.
Hi, Carly.
Hi, Jenny.
Well, since Dad runs the place,
and Mom is one of
the original members,
I didn't really have a choice
in the matter.
[droll chuckling]
Uh... I'm Tyler.
My mom says
team activities build character,
and it was either this
or ice hockey,
and I can't skate.
Well, I-I can't really sing
either, but, uh...
if you're lousy at this,
you don't lose a tooth.
Well, nice to meet you, Tyler,
and I can't skate either.
[warm chuckling]
I'm Alice. I'm 41.
I'm married.
My husband and I
have two wonderful children.
I can show you pictures
after practice.
Christmas is just about
my favorite time of year.
Some folks put up
their Christmas trees
on December 1st.
I pull out my sweaters
and Christmas bling... heh!
'Cause 'tis the season.
You'll have to show me where
I can pick up one of those.
Oh. Well, good thing
I have a catalogue.
I'll bring it next time.
[Carly chuckles to herself]
[grumbles] George.
The strong, silent type. Well!
You know, every group
needs a mysterious one.
[stops chuckling]
I'm Riley Wheeler.
Um, this is my first year,
and I joined
because I like to sing.
Then you're in the right place.
Uh, thank you, everyone.
Shall we start with some basics?
Just take your places
in your sections.
[indistinct conversations]
Okay, you know what?
Uh, raise your hand
if you are a tenor.
No. No.
- No.
- What?
Um... Alice, are you
an alto or a soprano?
You know...
I have always wondered.
[singing scales]
Do, mi, so, mi, do...
[slightly out of sync]
Do, mi, so, mi, do
- Do, mi, so, mi, do
- [choir repeats, out of sync]
[less discordant]
Do, mi, so, mi, do
Do, mi, so, mi, do
Pro tip?
Just leave him be.
George likes to...
keep to himself.
Now what's got you
looking so pensive?
Aw, my Christmas Eve sermon.
Just waiting on
a little inspiration.
Thank you.
How was Carly's first day?
She's so bright
and so professional.
I know that you had
your reservations,
but I am so glad we found her.
She reminds me of him.
You know, I was thinking...
we should get her
a Christmas tree.
I've already made arrangements.
I sent in the expert.
[Matthew] Deck the halls
with boughs of holly
Fa la la la la
la la, la-la
'Tis the season
to be jolly
Fa la la la la
la la, la-la
Hello again.
You have a really nice voice.
Have you ever thought
about joining the choir?
Oh, my choir days are long over.
So you have experience.
That's what you got
out of that answer?
Okay. What do you think
of this one?
You're right.
We can do better.
It's your Christmas tree.
Actually, it's yours.
Mrs. Shepard asked me
to pick one up for you.
I'm kind of an expert in
the Christmas tree department.
Oh, really?
Hmm. Well, thank you,
but you don't have to do that.
- I'm here now.
- Nonsense!
I made Mrs. Shepard a promise,
and I need
evergreen branches anyway.
My mom makes
Christmas wreaths every year.
Hmm. So were you just planning
on sneaking it into my house,
like some reverse-Grinch?
I'd probably try
the doorbell first.
Yeah. [laughs]
Well, since you're here,
come on, you can help.
So you and the Shepards
seem pretty tight.
Jenny and I grew up together.
We've been best friends
since preschool.
Wow. That's a lot of history.
Any romantic history?
- No.
- No?
I just wonder if she knows
that you have feelings for her.
Why haven't you told her yet?
I... It's just...
It's never been the right time.
When I joined the Army,
it didn't seem right
to say something,
only to follow it
with a goodbye.
There was a moment before I left
where I thought maybe she was...
That was a long time ago!
W-What do you think of this one?
Uh, hold it straight.
Let me check.
Well, I gotta see
if I can put the angel on top.
- [strains]
- What's the verdict?
We have a winner.
You got bulbs? Tinsel?
Oh, I don't use tinsel.
Why not?
Uh, because it gets everywhere
and you still find
pieces of it in January.
No tinsel in January.
Matthew, I really think
you should consider
joining the choir.
So many great people involved!
Your sister, Jenny,
Jenny's mom...
all of us together,
having so much fun...
and also,
I desperately need a tenor!
Wait. Are you even a tenor?
Guess you'll never know.
Well, the tree
will go a long way
to making this place
feel a little more festive.
Mm, and now we have
ornaments, too.
That one's mine.
I brought it from home.
A cardinal?
It was a gift from my mom.
She used to call me
her "little songbird".
And how does she feel
about you spending Christmas
so far from home?
She, um...
she passed away in June.
I'm so sorry.
That's why I took this job.
We used to spend
Christmas together.
What about brothers?
No. It was just us.
Your dad?
Uh, he left, when I was one.
He wasn't ready to be a father.
My mom said he tried,
but he couldn't be
what we needed him to be, so...
It's okay.
I made peace with that
a long time ago.
Now with my mom gone,
and my dad's side
of the family tree clipped...
it's just me.
You know, family doesn't
have to mean blood.
The men I served with,
I consider them brothers.
We have each others' backs.
Family can be chosen, too.
[indistinct exchanges]
Um, I guess everyone's here,
so let's get started.
We're gonna start
with some scales.
Sorry I'm late.
You're right on time.
Um, everybody,
meet our new tenor.
You are a tenor, right?
- Okay!
- [choir exclaiming and cheering]
I'm glad you're here.
We can share.
Thank you.
[exhales contentedly]
[out of sync] Hark
The herald angels sing
Glory to
The newborn king
[George, gravelly]
Uh, well, I think we are
good to go for today, guys,
but, um, please practice
your individual parts at home.
Okay? Promise?
- Promise.
- Good!
Oh. Before we go,
I do have an announcement
I would like to make.
I have been evaluating all
of your individual strengths,
and I think
this year's solo should go
to Riley.
- [gasping]
- Riley!
[all fussing]
- Congratulations!
- Congratulations.
That's great.
[Carly] Bye, George.
I think he's warming up to me.
He's more bark than bite.
Um, about the solo...
maybe you should give it
to someone else.
Alice, or Jenny?
You have a beautiful voice,
Riley. Truly.
I'm just not sure I can sing
in front of all those people
Then we can work on it together,
if you want,
outside of group rehearsals.
You'd help me?
Of course!
I won't have you do anything
that you're not ready for,
but I think you should try.
Okay. Thanks so much.
What made you decide
to dust off your robes?
Well, I'm home now,
and it just so happens
some of my favorite people
are in this choir.
[Jenny chuckles]
We still need to catch up.
Pie at the Orchard?
I'm off gluten,
but yes, of course.
I'll drop off Riley
and then meet you there.
You got it.
Mint tea.
With honey.
It's good for your voice.
[grumbling] Oh...
are you excited for Christmas?
Why? It happens every year.
[laughs] Does that make you
the town Scrooge?
I suppose it might.
Sorry! I just notice
that you don't seem
to like socializing very much
with the rest of the group,
but they're a really fun bunch.
Yesterday, Alice even brought
homemade snickerdoodles.
I know!
She snuck two into my pocket.
There were crumbs everywhere.
[laughs] Now, see?
There's another reason
to stick around after practice.
Saves on the dry-cleaning bill.
[laughs softly]
I still would like to know...
why you joined the choir,
if you want to share?
My wife.
She, um...
she used to sing with the choir.
She passed last winter.
How long were you two married?
53 years.
I'm so sorry, George.
Now tell me about your wife.
Lovely singer, I bet.
She couldn't carry a tune
in a bucket!
[laughing heartily]
But she loved it!
Christmas was always
her favorite time of the year...
The lights and the decorations...
But the thing
she looked forward to the most
was caroling.
- Mm.
- And we'd go every year.
Just you two?
Well, it was our tradition.
We'd walk for blocks
till our feet were sore
and our voices gave out,
but she'd always say,
"One more house.
Can't keep all this
Christmas cheer to ourselves."
And when
I sing with the choir...
I can feel that old connection
to her.
Ding dong
merrily on high...
- Oh.
- Thank you.
Did your Mom tell you that
Barkley's Drugstore closed down?
Yes, unfortunately...
About six months ago.
[Matthew sighs]
I hear it's becoming
a seafood restaurant.
I spent the last few days
dreaming of one of
their peppermint egg creams.
Yeah. Well, my mom
cornered Mr. Barkley
until he gave her the recipe,
so I'll have her send it to you.
Yeah. Well, you know
I won't be able
to make anything like
the original, but thanks.
Oh, right. I forgot.
You can't cook.
I have other skills.
How are things at the shop?
Actually, it's my last month.
Really? Why?
I applied
to Dobson Virginia University.
I got into their MBA program.
W... [laughs]
Th-That's amazing!
Thank you.
I'm still wait-listed
for a few courses I need,
so we'll see.
Your parents must be proud.
They are... now.
Mom was a little disappointed
because we'd always talked about
me taking over the shop one day.
You can do that
with a business degree, right?
That's not why I applied.
I've spent my entire life
in Waterford Creek,
and I started to wonder
if maybe there was more for me
out there.
You must know
what that's like, right?
Well, I...
I-I loved serving my country.
It was the honor of my life,
I spent most of my quiet moments
thinking of home.
Reindeer gaming
It must be Christmas
'Cause every day's a holiday
in the season of love
Christmas brings out
the joy in all of us
If you feel this good inside
That's when you know, baby
It must be Christmastime...
Hmm. We meet again.
I'm actually glad you're here.
That Christmas Feeling
Christmas Time's Coming?
Are you buying
a gift for someone?
Every Christmas,
my mom and I would go
to the record shop in town
and try to find a holiday album
that we'd never, ever heard
I mean, anyone can put on
Bing or Ella,
but have you ever
trimmed a tree to...
Accordion To Steve's
Christmas Polka?
[laughing hard]
She'd get one for me,
I'd get one for her,
we'd swap,
kind of like a secret Santa.
It was always
my favorite tradition.
And what if you don't like it?
What's life without
a little bit of risk, right?
Besides, I have yet to meet
a Christmas song
that I did not like.
Give me a horn section
and some sleigh bells,
and I'm happy.
- [laughs]
- What about you?
My favorite...
Christmas tradition?
Being home.
I mean, nothing gets me
in the spirit
like a peppermint egg cream
from Barkley's Drugstore...
but I just heard...
they shut down.
Well, I've never tried one,
but it sounds interesting.
No... more than "interesting".
It's life-changing.
Riley told me
that you offered to help her out
with her solo.
That's really nice of you.
Well, solos can be intimidating.
She's very talented.
She's wanted to join the choir
for the longest time.
She just now
worked up the courage.
Well, I'm glad she did.
You know, I could use
some new Christmas music.
Do you trust me?
Should I?
No peeking.
Oh! Right.
it must be Christmas...
Hey! Not until you get home.
That's the rule.
Is that so? Well...
I always play by the rules.
I got that about you.
Mm. Smells good.
What have you got there?
[starts laughing]
Oh, no.
The record player was broken,
so we got rid of it.
Sorry, honey.
Oh, that's okay, Mom.
Love you.
[paper rustles]
[light and jazzy number begins]
There's music in the city
And the lights
are on display
There's a big old tree
for all to see
Where the children
Run and play
I look out
through my window
just don't seem right
Until I said "Hello"
I heard her voice
On the other end of the line
Now, it's Christmas
I'm hurryin' on my way
Like I'm riding
in a one-horse sleigh
Well, I don't need
to hear no jingle bells
Just the ringing on my phone
Well, Mama just called
And said it's time
For me to come on home
Ooh, ooh
"Joyful all ye nations rise,
join the triumph
of the skies."
What's the song about? Tyler?
Um, herald angels singing?
Yes. Absolutely. What else?
It's about rejoicing
in good news,
coming together in celebration.
Songs aren't
just words and notes.
They are expressions
of emotions,
and if we want the audience
to feel something,
then we have to feel it first.
So, everybody...
close your eyes!
- [hesitant chuckles]
- Close 'em!
Now, I want you to think
about a time in your life
when you were truly happy...
when you were filled with joy
and bliss...
and wonder.
Yeah. Feel those feels.
Now hold on to that feeling...
and keep your eyes closed.
[strikes chord]
Just the refrain...
and now you want
to share that happy time.
You are bursting to share it
with the people
you love the most.
And one...
and two...
[jubilant, harmonious]
Joyful all ye nations rise
Join the triumph
of the skies
With angelic hosts proclaim
Christ is born
in Bethlehem
The herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn
All right, singers.
Open your eyes.
I think we're ready
to take it from the top.
[strums a chord]
[reworking same chord]
[knocking at door]
Hi. Carly, I'm so silly.
I realized that I forgot
to give you your ticket.
Yes, to the Christmas dance.
It's a Waterford Creek
Not to be missed.
For tonight? Okay.
Um, I've never been
to a Christmas dance before.
Oh, you're gonna have
a wonderful time.
I'll see to it personally.
Now, I'm not sure
what you packed,
but Jenny thought perhaps
one of these might work.
These are great. Thank you!
You're welcome.
Do you want to come in?
Oh, thanks, Carly, but, um...
I'm behind on making
my Christmas candles.
Actually, I could
sure use your help.
Would you care to join?
Sure. Uh, let me
just put these down.
[exhaling deeply]
The key
to the perfect Christmas candle
is three drops
of cardamom essence,
two drops of vanilla,
and two drops of cloves,
with a dash of cinnamon.
I usually make
my own cinnamon blend too,
but that's a recipe
for another time.
Well, it smells great.
I only started making these
a few years ago,
but since then,
I've been hooked.
It's like there's something
meditative about it.
[chuckles] Oh, I'm sorry.
I feel like I've just been
talking your ear off.
Not at all.
I love hearing these stories.
Okay. What's next?
So, next, we add...
the scent.
Are you sure
you want to trust me with this?
I believe in you, Carly.
Now, nice and easy.
Mom, are you up here?
Come on up!
Sorry to bother you
up here, but...
Oh! Hi, Carly.
Hey, Jenny.
Your mom's showing me
how to make Christmas candles.
Mom usually doesn't let people
into her studio.
Well, I, uh...
I have to make
six dozen of these
for the Christmas dance,
so it is all hands on deck.
I'm pretty sure
I have two left hands,
but I'm trying my best.
Come, join us, honey.
Thank you.
Mm. Oh! That's starting
to smell really good.
[festive music filtering out]
Good to see you.
Excuse me for a second.
What do you think?
Smells good enough to eat.
Thank you.
You made these?
With a great deal of help
from Susan, but yes.
I'm impressed.
You know...
I think I am finally
getting the hang
of this smalltown
Christmas thing.
Making candles,
attending time-honored events.
[Alice] Carly!
- Can I steal you for a hot sec?
- Sure.
So I heard
that eating prunes is good
for relaxing the vocal chords,
or was it pineapple?
I can't remember.
I know water's good...
Susan was saying
that the Christmas dance
was your first date.
Our first date was the library.
Oh, that was not a date.
I thought it was.
Our "first date" is when
I put on a pretty dress
and dab some perfume
behind my ear.
Well, I think
you can find romance anywhere,
in the little things.
Like a trip to the library.
Okay, fine!
So then the Christmas dance
was our second date.
Actually, it was our third.
You forgot about
the coffee shop.
Oh! [giggling]
Dance with me?
I would love to.
...The sky
is such a beautiful sight
And when we walk along
the icy lane
You'll be holding me
so tight
And when we see that fire
With the flames
getting higher
[Matthew] You know what
this reminds me of?
Junior prom.
Does that mean I can expect you
to step on my toes?
What? I got some fresh moves.
I thought I just saw
Ben Hubbard.
I didn't know
he was back in town.
Yeah. He said
he might be here tonight.
...The bells on the tree
We'll be
wrapping up tonight
Are you two...
Mm. I'm not sure.
He travels a lot for work,
but he visits all the time,
You should go say hi.
It can wait
till the end of our dance.
No. No.
Absolutely not. Listen.
I-I have to make the rounds
anyways and...
a lot of people
I have to say hi to.
Are you sure?
- We'll catch up later.
- Okay.
[Jenny] Hi.
Thank you.
Nice night, huh?
Yeah. Pretty magical.
The stars...
the perfectly clean air.
This place is incredible.
George has
some pretty good moves, huh?
I could barely keep up.
So... how are we doing?
You and me?
The choir.
Uh, well...
we are a little over a week
away from Christmas Eve,
I just want it to be special.
It means a lot to you,
this performance.
The Shepards have been
so nice to me...
from finding
my teacher profile online
to bringing me out here,
inviting me
to fun events like this.
Alice said that the chapel
hasn't had the money
to hire a choir director,
so Pastor John is paying me
out of pocket.
I don't know how I got so lucky.
Huh. That is really special.
I'll miss them when I go home.
Do you...
believe in fate?
Like, there's a bigger plan
that we can't see?
I don't know.
Since my mom died...
I've just felt
a little... lost.
And fate, the idea of it...
the promises that it holds...
it just seems a little rocky
right now.
I understand
what you're going through.
You do?
You're up late.
Oh, did I wake you?
Looks like we had the same idea.
oh, I remember that night.
You made the cutest Wise Man.
And you were up all night,
making me that little hat.
make the outfit, dear.
[chuckles softly]
Is everything all right?
I had these hopes...
I'd come home,
buy that little farmhouse
on Maple, fix it up.
And now I hear
that Jenny's leaving...
just as I arrive.
She was my best friend.
I feel like
I... hardly know her.
People change...
grow apart.
Others grow together.
Sometimes, you need
to let go of a dream
so another one
can take its place.
That's pretty deep, Mom.
I have my moments.
[sighs heavily]
Thank you for letting us
do this for her.
You've done a good thing.
What a blessing.
Meeting her...
That's the real blessing.
and good morning, everybody.
Uh, keep your coats on!
We're doing something
a little different today.
We're not singing today?
We are going caroling.
[choir gasping]
Come on! Come.
[excited giggling]
We wish you
a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry
We wish you
a Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year
Good tidings we bring
to you and your kin
We wish you
a Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year
We all like
our figgy pudding
We all
like our figgy pudding
We all like
our figgy pudding
With all its good cheers
We wish you
a Merry Christmas
We wish
you a Merry Christmas
We wish you
a Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year
[laughing and giggling]
Oh, what fun!
Did you see their faces?
We made their day!
Well, who doesn't like being
wished Merry Christmas, right?
And a Happy New Year.
So, George, what do you think?
Should we keep going?
- One more house.
- [gleeful giggling]
We can't keep
all this Christmas cheer
to ourselves, right?
Let's do it!
Thank you, Carly.
One more house.
Just repeat after me.
Mi, mi, mi, mi, mi,
mi, mi, mi, mi-i-i-i
[together] Mi, mi, mi, mi,
mi, mi, mi, mi, mi-i-i-i
You are singing for the rafters!
Just give it
a little more power.
What if I make a mistake?
We all make mistakes.
[exhales tensely]
I just don't want to let
everyone in the choir down.
My mom used to tell me
it takes two things
to make great music...
A guitar in your hands
and joy in your heart.
Your mom sounds awesome.
I usually have
my favorite pick with me,
but I lost it on my way here.
Had the word "joy"
written on it.
It was a gift from my mom.
Oh, no.
Sadly, I think
it's gone for good.
But listen.
It's normal
to get lost in your nerves.
You just have to remember
why you're doing this.
Do you love to sing?
I do.
[Carly] Then share that love
with everyone in that chapel
on Christmas Eve.
Or we could always
give the solo to George.
I mean, he loves the spotlight!
I'm sorry to interrupt.
Um, wondering if you guys
are almost finished.
We're about to start
with the wreaths.
Yeah. I think
we're done for today.
Great job, Riley.
Carly, can you stay?
I don't want to impose
on your family time.
Do you have
a wreath on your door?
Then you should stay.
I've always made my own bows.
I think it adds
a personal touch.
Carly, if you pick
which ribbon you like best,
- I can make you one.
- Okay.
But you might want
to spread these branches out.
They're looking
a little lopsided.
Hey! I'm not telling you
how to make your wreath.
Because mine's actually round.
Is there a law that says
wreaths have to be round?
It's not about
the finished product...
It's about the experience.
Thank you, Diane.
Although we will be hanging
the finished product up
around the house
on the Christmas Eve-Eve party.
Speaking of...
I don't know
if anyone has said, Carly,
but you are absolutely invited.
Thanks. I'd really like that.
I think it has
a lot of personality.
No arguments here.
You know, I realize
that I've never heard you sing.
Oh, well, that's not true.
We went caroling.
Oh, that was with a group.
I barely heard myself.
Would you?
Actually, I could use
an unbiased opinion
on something.
Take a seat.
I have been working
on this arrangement...
and I want the choir to sing it.
Don't you think
it's a little late
to add a new song?
Maybe, but...
it would mean a lot to me.
What's the song?
Well, I, uh,
recently got this gift
from a friend of mine...
the first track is called
"Time For Me To Come Home".
And it just spoke to me.
[begins to play]
[light and jaunty]
Now, it's Christmas
I'm hurryin' on my way
Like I'm ridin' in
a one-horse sleigh
Well, I don't have
to hear no jingle bells
Just the ringin'
of the phone
Mama just called
And said it's time
For me
To come home
I forgot the next line.
It was beautiful.
It's a work in progress.
We should add it.
[chuckles softly]
I forgot to ask.
Why did you choose that album?
Happy accident, I guess.
I guess sometimes
the things we need
just have a way of finding us.
Yeah, I guess they do.
I would like to add a song
to the program.
I've been working
on the arrangement.
[Matthew] Thank you.
Does anyone know
where Tyler is today?
No. I haven't seen him
this morning.
I can text him.
- Yeah, that would be great.
- Okay.
Okay. Well, let's get started.
So, you had one of your creamy
peppermint-drink thingies?
Peppermint egg cream?
Not yet.
Well, I thought it was
your favorite tradition.
I'll get there eventually.
Jenny sent Mr. Barkley's
famous recipe over to my mom.
Good things come...
to those who wait, yeah, yeah.
But have you ever considered
that maybe better things come
to those who seize the day?
Oh, hey!
We missed you at rehearsal.
I'm so sorry.
I-I completely forgot.
Well, that's okay.
We just wanted to make sure
that you're all right.
We got snow last night,
and I wanted to make sure
that the driveway was clear
for my mom,
and I always help
the neighbors out
with their firewood.
You want some help?
So you were gonna do
all of this by yourself?
My mom's been
working really hard.
She just picked up
extra shifts at the Orchard,
and I don't want her
to worry about all this.
That's very thoughtful.
Tyler's father's
serving overseas in the Marines.
And we just found out
he won't be home for Christmas
this year.
I'm sorry, Tyler.
Hey, Tyler.
I'm sure your dad
would be real proud
of how you're stepping up,
but it's okay to ask for help.
You don't have to do this
all alone.
All right.
Okay, give me a hand with this.
[Tyler] Yeah.
Are these your decorations?
I got them down
from the attic last week,
but we haven't had a chance
to put them up.
You know what?
I think it's time
we call in the reinforcements.
Put me in, Coach!
I have never been more ready
to spread some Christmas joy.
Here. Let me help.
They're amaryllis.
Poinsettias are tradition,
but amaryllis
have always been my favorite.
Susan and Jenny said
to water it twice a day,
and you'll have it
all through the year!
George sent you
one of his ornaments.
Tell me you've heard of them!
First for me.
you place whole cloves
into these oranges.
And then when you hang them,
they fill the whole house
with the most wonderful scent.
When my girls were little,
we used to make these
every Christmas.
Yeah! Well,
where do we put the cloves?
Well, in any pattern you like!
You can just get creative.
They are so easy,
and guaranteed to put
a little happy in your holidays.
- Okay.
- Wow.
Um, I'm gonna grab...
Hold your horses!
Safety first!
[Carly] Okay, um...
[Tyler laughs]
She really is one of a kind.
Some people come into our world
and make things
a little brighter.
- Oh, yeah.
- Yeah.
So, uh...
back to the hotly-debated topic
of fate...
And you can disagree,
though I wouldn't recommend it...
It seems to me like
there's some Christmas magic
happening right now.
Go on.
Well, if Tyler hadn't
missed rehearsal today,
we never would have known
what was going on with him,
and we wouldn't be here...
I don't disagree.
I like this deal.
You cook, I wrap.
Well, if you call reheating
my mom's famous ginger soup
I'm in.
You know, it's too bad
that Tyler won't get to spend
Christmas with his father.
Soldiers aren't the only ones
who sacrifice for this country.
We ask a lot
of their families as well.
Well, I'm glad we could help
lighten his load a little.
It was nice to see
everybody chipping in.
Even George sent an ornament.
Most people want to help.
They just need to be asked.
This is me asking.
Can I get a hand?
Thank you.
Ooh. I think I got ya.
[harmonious and joyful]
Hark, the herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn king
Peace on Earth
and mercy mild
God and sinners
That's it!
All ye nations rise
Join the triumph
of the skies
With angelic hosts proclaim
Christ is born
[carrying in from chapel]
In Bethlehem
The herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn king
Oh, I almost forgot!
While we're all together,
I'd like to get a photo.
- Oh!
- [excited chatter]
Well, you need
to get in here, too!
No, oh, no.
I just meant the choir.
Well, you're
a member of the choir!
Face it, you're one of us now.
That's seven against one.
Come on. Majority rules.
Um, on the count of three, say,
"deck the halls!"
All right?
One, two, three...
[all] Deck the halls!
You know, we're only
a few days away
from Christmas Eve.
You should all be so proud
of everything
that you've accomplished.
Thanks to you!
And I was thinking...
I mean, if you're not
in a rush to get home,
it would be really nice
to celebrate our last rehearsal.
- Great!
- Yeah!
As the kids say...
I'm into it.
[hearty laughter]
What's everyone feel like?
Well, there happens to be
a special event at the Orchard,
they're waiting for us.
I'll get the chapel van!
[giggling and chatter,
A special event?
What have you been
up to, Ms. Bridges?
You'll have to wait and see.
Is this what I think it is?
You got it.
We are making Mr. Barkley's
famous peppermint egg creams,
which, by the way,
contain zero eggs, oddly enough.
Everybody grab a seat.
How did you...
I have my ways.
Is my favorite time
of year
Christmas is my favorite
time of year
I'm keepin' out of trouble
Till the big guy's here
Santa is
my favorite kind of guy
Very chocolatey!
Santa is my favorite
kind of guy
Christmas is my favorite
time of year
I'm keepin' out of trouble
Until the big guy's here
Okay, should we cheers?
[all] Yeah!
...Until the big guy's here
'Cause Christmas is
my favorite time of year
We did it!
This was such a fun idea.
I'm so glad you suggested it
and made it all happen.
It means a lot to all of us
that you came here
to help with the choir.
Well, it's been
a really nice escape.
I'm so sorry...
about your mom.
Did Matthew tell you?
No. Uh, my dad mentioned it.
I don't even
remember telling him,
but I must have, over lunch.
You know, you're really lucky,
for having a father like John.
You're not close with your dad?
Uh, he passed a few years ago,
and he was out of my life
well before then.
Did you stay in touch?
Did he ever try to contact you?
He sent me a letter
when I turned 18.
I never even opened it,
to be honest.
He didn't know anything
about me or my life.
He even wrote the wrong name.
Wrong name?
After he left,
my mom reverted back
to her maiden name,
so I took it... "Bridges",
but my dad's last name
was "Fernie".
[stammers softly]
Did he have any family?
I don't know,
but if he does,
I haven't met them.
My mom gave me
a really great life.
She was all the family
I ever needed.
Oh... no, thanks.
Hey. What's that?
Oh, I found this
on the bus ride here.
I was kind of nervous,
being back after all this time,
and I saw that on the ground.
It reminded me
this is where I belong.
I think this is Carly's.
She mentioned losing one
just like it.
It means a lot to her.
[Diane] Isn't that funny?
You have been carrying it around
for weeks, and had no idea.
Hi, Mom.
Oh, hi, sweetheart.
I'm making pies
for tomorrow night.
- Any requests?
- Cherry?
Of course.
It's already on the list.
That's Carly's favorite, too.
[Susan chuckles]
It's been great having her here.
Hasn't it?
And the choir's
never sounded better.
Yeah. Well, it's lucky
you found her profile.
What about it stood out to you?
To bring her
all the way from Philadelphia,
there must have been something
that caught your eye.
Something... more?
[breath catches]
What aren't you telling me?
[breathes deeply]
[indistinct exchange]
I've been thinking about her
a lot lately.
Well, Christmas
is a time for reflection.
[sighs] I wish you could've
had a chance to meet her.
[voice breaks] You would've
really liked my mom.
Well, if she was
anything like you,
I'm sure I would have.
I've felt so lost
ever since she died.
I mean, I-I know we all feel
a little bit lost sometimes,
but she was always the person
that I turned to...
you know?
[cries] I don't know
how to do this without her.
Carly, your mother gave you
a beautiful gift...
and you keep her memory alive
with every student you inspire.
We're alike, you and me.
We do what we do
to reach people...
move them,
touch their hearts.
We are following a calling.
[sobs shakily]
Thank you.
[buzzing chatter, indistinct]
Pardon the interruption,
I just wanted to thank Diane
for hosting this year's
Christmas Eve-Eve party.
But I also think
we should have a few words
from our fearless leader, Carly!
Come on! Whoo!
[guests laughing]
Thank you, Alice.
Um, first of all,
thank you all
for your hard work,
and for letting me
into your lives.
These past few weeks
have been so special,
and you are all the reason why.
I-I thought
that this was going to be
my first Christmas
without any family...
but I was wrong.
[chuckles softly]
to family...
Wherever you find them.
- Hear, hear!
- Cheers!
The best.
You're the best.
- Cheers.
- Cheers!
So here's where you ran off to.
You remember?
How we used to sneak out
during the party
and look at the stars?
You mean try and spot Santa?
Feels like a lifetime ago.
It's been nice, having you home,
if I haven't said that before.
Yeah, it's been nice being home.
Want to know something funny?
The day I dropped you off
at the bus station,
I was gonna kiss you.
- You were?
- Yeah!
I had it all planned out.
I was gonna tell you
I had a crush on you,
and that we should date
long distance.
Uh, and why didn't you?
Cold feet, I guess.
I didn't want to ruin
our friendship,
in case it didn't work out.
I used to wonder how things
would be different
if I had,
and I wondered if maybe
you had the same regrets.
I'd be lying
if I said I didn't...
wonder if we had
missed our shot at something.
I think we're exactly
where we're supposed to be.
Friends for life?
Friends for life.
Friends for life.
Hey! You leaving?
Uh... clock strikes 10:00,
and I turn into a pumpkin.
Somehow, I doubt that's true.
Um, I have something for you.
I believe this belongs to you.
My gosh!
My pick!
Where did you get this?
Turns out
we were on the same bus.
I've been carrying this around
for weeks.
I was worried that
that was gone forever.
I guess the right person
found it.
That was a beautiful speech
you made in there.
I meant it.
It's gonna be really hard
to say goodbye to the choir
when this is all over.
I thought maybe you'd stay
around for a little while.
I did what
I came here to do, so.
I should really get going.
Tomorrow's the big day.
I-Is... Is everything okay?
Yeah. I'm just tired.
Okay. I-I'll let you go, then.
Come in.
[sighs] What is this?
A gift.
You didn't need
to get me a gift.
Well, nobody needs
to get anybody a gift.
Open it.
I thought you might like
to add it to the wall.
It is certainly
a choir worth remembering.
Thank you.
I'm gonna find
something to hang it.
I'll be right back.
Hi, Carly.
Oh. Are you sure
you don't want
to just swap out
one of the old photos?
Mm, there's room.
[Susan] Okay.
Your maiden name was "Fernie"?
It was.
My father's last name
was "Fernie".
I know.
He was my brother.
I-I don't understand.
How could you not tell me?
We didn't want
to disrupt your life.
We heard about your mother...
and we couldn't bear the thought
of you spending
a Christmas alone.
We just wanted you
to have a nice holiday...
[chokes up] ...but you have
given us so much more.
We're sorry we didn't tell you.
It was a mistake.
- [sets frame down]
- Uh, I need some air.
[sobs] Oh!
It's okay.
[chuckles softly]
[door opens]
we understand if you need to go.
And we completely understand
if you're upset with us.
I'm not upset.
I have a million questions...
and I do wish
that you would have told me...
but I don't regret coming here.
you're my aunt?
[laughs] Yes.
[both laughing]
what do you want to know?
Uh... [laughs]
[chuckling warmly]
You still haven't learned
how to tie one of those things?
Aren't you supposed
to be doing your fancy warm-ups?
This is an emergency.
What's an emergency?
I hardly think my tie
constitutes an emergency.
I'm not talking about the tie.
I'm talking about Carly.
What about Carly?
Oh, brother.
Number one, she's going home.
Number two...
You need to go after
the life that you want now,
not tomorrow.
She saw you and Jenny
on the porch last night.
Go. Fix it.
Maybe you can give her
a reason to stay.
I just want you to know...
Jenny, we're just friends.
You're a good man, Matthew.
One of the kindest
that I've ever known,
and I guess
what I'm trying to say is...
I like you, too.
[door opening]
[chuckles awkwardly]
You brought
your mom's snow globe.
Best seat in the house.
She's here, you know.
You have family here.
I do... actually.
More than you know.
[John] Christmas reminds us
of the very best
we have to offer...
Tomorrow morning, we'll wake up,
and we'll head
to our Christmas trees
and we'll exchange our gifts.
But there will be
one gift exchanged
more precious than the rest...
Each moment
that we share with each other
creates a ripple
that extends much, much further
than we ever pause to consider.
Even the briefest encounter
has the potential
to shape a life.
[John takes a deep breath]
Now, it is my privilege
to introduce our choir
to sing
in celebration of this night.
They are a wonderful reminder
that our song is most beautiful
when we sing it with others.
Take a deep breath.
Sing for each other.
You got this.
[quietly confident]
There's music in the city
[ringing out] And the lights
are on display
There's a big ol' tree
For all to see
Where the children
run and play
- [music accompaniment begins]
- [harmonizing] Ooh...
I look out
through my window
Somethin' just don't
seem right
Till I said hello
And heard her voice
On the other end of the line
Now it's...
[all] Christmas
I'm hurryin' on my way
Like I'm riding
in a one-horse sleigh
Well, I don't have to hear
no jingle bells
Just the ringing
of the phone
Mama just called
and said it's time
For you
to come home
Mama just called
and said
- It's ti-i-i-ime
- It's time
For you
To come ho-o-o-ome
[congregation erupts]
[applauding and cheering]
You were wonderful, sweetheart.
Thanks, Mom.
Oh... wow! Wow!
- Yeah, you were pretty good.
- Yeah, you too.
[chuckling warmly]
I'm so proud of you.
Your mom was good, too.
Next year,
we should expand the program
to four or five songs.
What do you think?
Next year, as in January?
Well, if you stay,
we would love
to have you continue
working with the choir.
[gasps softly]
Can you excuse me for a second?
Mom, I don't know
how you did this.
Thank you.
Ever since I've been back...
I've been thinking about...
all the choices
I've made in my life.
Things I've done in the past
maybe I'd do differently,
all the "might've beens".
We all have regrets.
I don't.
The way you care about people...
your generosity, your passion,
the way you brought
this community together...
I've never felt more at home
in my life.
It's all because of you.
I don't have
a single regret, Carly,
because every choice I've made
has led me to this moment...
with you.
[church bell pealing]
It's Christmas.
Merry Christmas, Carly.
Merry Christmas.