Christmas movies on Hallmark evoke all kinds of warm feelings.
Some movies capture the magic and joy of Christmas with office shenanigans involving a Scrooge, and others feature a lighthearted courtship leading to a lasting romance.
But it's the holiday movies that dig a little deeper into the meaning of the season that really hit home for some.
Time For You To Come Home for Christmas has all of the requisite decorations, fun activities in the snow, and a Christmas dance getting an entire town together.
Featuring Alison Sweeney as a widow named Katherine, this one also explores what it's like during the holidays when you've lost someone you love, especially when you're trying to make the most of the occasion for your young child.
That story gets combined with a Veteran on a journey of discovery and a surprising connection the two share that makes their Christmas lights twinkle brighter while offering hope for the future.
We had the chance to talk with Ali, and the conversation was utterly delightful. She was also eager to share her thoughts on what makes this holiday movie well worth your time.
"What I really love about this story is how it offers a deeper emotional connection to the holidays and what happens when you have memories that you can't save for the holidays. And I think that's something people really understand. For some holidays, you're kind of dreading it because of memories that were so beautiful -- maybe you lost someone or whatever reason.
"When it hurts on the holidays, people really identify with that. I love the idea that holidays can be whatever you need.
"For a lot of people, they're joyful and fun and festive, but sometimes when it's hard and emotional and melancholy, and maybe that's okay too. And in those cases, the holidays really helped you get through those feelings and get to the other side. And I thought that was a really beautiful element to the story."
Ali identifies with her character, Kat, for many reasons, among them that they're both raising young children and that, sometimes, parenting can feel like "you're shooting from the hip" to get it right.
Ali also understands that sometimes you have to go with your gut to achieve the best results and to open yourself to receiving advice. "Sometimes you do need someone to look in from the outside and say, 'Hey, have you thought about it from this point of view?'
"I really like what a great loving mom Kat is -- I hope that my kids see me that way -- and also that she wants desperately to do what's best for her kid, but she's willing to hear someone else's point of view and say, 'You know what, I hadn't thought about it like that.'
"You know, her internal monologue is such that she does reevaluate her own point of view and gets to the bottom of it."
And Ali has a lot to draw on to bring feelings of love and family to life, especially for a holiday movie. "I feel deeply connected with my family, in particular with the holidays.
"My family and I have always really treasured our time together on holidays, and Christmas is such a special thing for all of us that, and I don't mean to make light of it, but it isn't hard to fall on the emotional moment. That's how I feel about my family.
"And certainly, after my experience at Days of Our Lives, you get a lot of time to dig deep at those emotional roots, so I find that that experience helped a lot."
While it might seem like a challenge to get sparks flying with costars when they're trying to create a realistic romance, Ali doesn't think so. "It’s easy. When you work with great people like Lucas, it's not hard. You know you find things you have in common, fun things.
"I think actors who have some experience with this and kind of know that we're all sort of trying to find help the chemistry come across on screen. You make a real effort to become friends with someone and find things that you have in common and what you do in real life.
"So, whether it was TV movies or shows that we're watching on Netflix or jokes or Christmas -- there's a lot of Christmas humor to be had. And so we really found a lot that we had in common. And you can make those jokes and allow those feelings and that bond to kind of translate on-screen."
Holiday movies also evoke a lot of feelings that require an actor to get into the season when it's just not that time of year. And just like Ali has a successful plan of attack to build chemistry, she also knows how to find her festive side with minimal effort.
"I love Christmas, it’s just a great time of the year for me. I think it's so fun to decorate a tree, and smell the fresh pine, and play in the snow. And all of those things, especially since I’m from Los Angeles, never get old. You don't really have that here. It’s always fun and a surprise.
"I think what gets me in the spirit the most, especially on this movie that has such a beautiful wardrobe but the red coat that I was wearing and the scarf. It makes you feel wrapped up in the holidays, and that really helped me get in the spirit."
Ali laughed, "And of course, in Vancouver, I'm always cold, so it kind of just gave me the chance to really enjoy the feeling."
It's one of her favorite times of the year, and Ali and her family have a lot of fun getting into the spirit. "My kids and I have a lot to do; decorating the tree is one of our favorites. And I love playing Christmas music. We all get our slippers on, and we get in the attic to get all our stuff and pull the tree together.
"It’s super fun for me. One of the other things that I love is that we all go up to the mountains to celebrate Christmas together in the snow. It's so special for me, I love that, I get really sucked into the Hallmark Christmas movies. There's always snow, and pillow fights and candy canes everywhere. It always makes me feel happier when I’m actually in it."
Creating a special holiday experience is very important to Ali, and her attitude is infectious. "I think anything that has that tradition every year makes people look forward to it next year. It's a lot of fo fun. We have a lot of friends giving, friends Christmas dinners with friends that my husband and I have," Ali shared.
The couples get together with their families, and the kids get to be together for the holidays, even if they don't get to see each other year-round. "With traditions like that, you remember the people and the friendships and spending the holiday with the family.
"Getting together with all the cousins -- dinner is so fun, even if it’s not Christmas day, you know? I think that's the other thing that I've never had to work on in the family because we are married and we have different families to visit; it can be whenever you want. It’s the spirit that comes with you."
Ali and her family also do some homework for her future holiday fare with must-watch favorites the entire family enjoys, whether her must-watch classics or the Christmas episodes of her kids' favorite TV shows. "We all have our favorites and take our turns on who gets to watch what."
If you're a fan of Ali's, you have certainly watched her film series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Her character owned a bakery on Murder She Baked, and in Time For You To Come Home for Christmas, Kat's history is formed by baking, as well.
"I also bake in real life, and I love it," Ali said. "It's just a big part of my family, we spent a lot of time in the kitchen and I cook a lot, bake with my kids. So it is a part of me, and I totally related to that as a story because they think it is intimate and it’s a part of us; it’s part of who they are."
And while she may or may not be baking on screen again in the near future, she will be very busy, as always. Not only does Days of Our Lives continually ask her when she'll have time to return so that Sami Brady can get some action, but there is more Hallmark in her future, too.
"Yeah, we’re filming more scripts for Chronical Mysteries for next year. So we're looking forward to that. And I definitely have other stuff that I am working on for 2020. You know, I love the mysteries. They're super fun to be part of, but I also enjoy the romantic comedies and romantic movies that are my favorites. They’re so fun."
Time For You To Come Home for Christmas will premiere on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries on Sunday, December 8 at 9/8c and run again throughout the holiday season. Don't miss it!
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.