Hallmark's latest holiday film, airing Friday, November 17 at 8/7 on the Hallmark Channel, reminds us of the importance of Christmas miracles. The lighthouse shines bright, locals care about each other, and the film features small-town charm.
Navigating Christmas features three people -- Melanie, Peter, and Jason, who have been disillusioned and hurt by those they love and find themselves healing by the spirit of the holidays.
Melanie Hobbs, Stephen Huszar, and Everett Andres star in this film, and none of them are strangers to the Hallmark franchise.
But this film was unique because Chelsea Hobbs and Everett Andres had previously portrayed mother and son on The Holiday Sitter in 2022. That helped to build a realistic connection between them.
Everett Andres sold this film. If you ask anyone, it's difficult being a divorced kid, but especially that first Christmas.
You only want your parents to get back together, but you hesitate to wish for that and sound like an immature kid. Lacking that, you want to spend time with your non-custodial parent.
Jason was hurt when his dad canceled their holiday plans, but he made it sound like he wanted to escape his mother.
Melanie (Chelsea Hobbs) tried to do what every mom does -- think of a way to bring holiday magic to her kid's life and only found one place open, not realizing they'd have to work on the holidays.
Navigating Christmas works its' holiday magic from the minute you meet the characters.
Peter (Stephen Huszar) hadn't been home in years and had been hiring people to care for his family's lighthouse. This year, he returned on the same water taxi as Melanie and Jason, but their first meeting didn't go as planned.
I know Melanie was disappointed, but I would have loved the opportunity to be an immersive lighthouse keeper for the holidays. I visit lighthouses whenever possible.
Peter, Melanie, and Jason came together as strangers but became the unlikiest of friends. During this time, Jason craved male attention, and Melanie needed her son to believe and behave like a carefree kid again.
Navigating Christmas does a beautiful job of sprinkling snow and demonstrating how some lights and a magical anchor are beacons of hope. Chelsea Hobbs and Stephen Huszar had a fantastic on-screen presence with each other and a familial connection with Everett Andres.
I don't want to give too much away, but I can tease that you'll feel like you entered a charming small-town Christmas, and you will be captivated by all the decorations and the activities.
It's impressive how many strands of lights it takes to decorate the lighthouse, but seeing it lit up at night is a real sight.
Ruth's Diner hosts a taste-off between peppermint hot chocolate and cinnamon egg nog, and you better hope you select the right one.
At the Reindeer Games, there was the cutest game, where teammates threw ringtoss while your teammate wore reindeer antlers. This was just one of the holiday-themed games. You'll have to watch to see the games that made me laugh and smile at the merriment.
The sets and Christmas decor lead to the quality performances of the actors. Stephen Huszar and Chelsea Hobbs portrayed beautifully flawed characters who could bring out the best in each other.
Navigating Christmas was different because while sparks flew between them, they took time to nurture them slowly and think of how Jason was healing from the divorce. It was a welcoming change from couples who rush into romance.
It was also refreshing to see a film that focuses more on family love than purely on romantic. They're both essential and Navigating Christmas highlights the importance of parental love, even if a child doesn't always realize it.
This film will show you several Miracles of Christmas, so bring wine, chocolate, and tissues.
Navigating Christmas was directed by Peter Benson, who has directed and appeared in so many Hallmark movies, most recently starring as Mark in Guiding Emily.
Working with many different cast members allows directors to forge new bonds, but what we loved most was the sense of community in Navigating Christmas.
It seemed like a small-town charm with an old-fashioned diner, multiple holiday festivals, and fireworks going off at night. St. Nicholas Island was the type of place that I'd love to visit while sipping a peppermint hot chocolate.
When you watch this holiday film, if you cry over the Christmas miracles as much as we did, please share your thoughts on social media. Your opinions matter, so we get movie sequels or another massive movie slate in 2024.
We have a special holiday surprise just for you. TV Fanatic scored an exclusive clip of Navigating Christmas, where Melanie learns about her lighthouse keeper's duties and the legend of the lighthouse.
Here's one thing to remember -- miracles always happen on St. Nicholas Island when people open their hearts to the possibility of hope.
Find out below what the St. Nicholas Island legacy was and how it was a turning point for all three characters.
Navigating Christmas premieres on the Hallmark Channel on Friday, November 17 at 8/7c.
Laura Nowak is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on X.