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As her new romance blossoms, a single mother is dismayed when her boyfriend, a military sergeant, is deployed right before Christmas. Determined to not let it ruin the holidays for her and her children they decide to give back to the struggling military families on his base and, as their efforts go viral, they are rewarded in ways they never imagined.
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Turns out, her kids, Danielle and Charlie, had already met his young daughter, Hazel, and they've already bonded. Nothing for it but for them all to spend Christmas Eve together. The Youngs and the McGuigans get along so well they make plans to spend Christmas Day together, as well. Except Scott gets a call for a mission ASAP, and off he and Hazel go, leaving the Young family to think they'd been ditched on Christmas day.
Cut to eleven months later, in Lakewood, Washington, where Oliva works as the new assistant manager at the Coastal National Bank. She's just been saddled with handling the bank's outreach program, the annual Fort Wilcox Toy Drive. Guess who her military liaison is? That's right. Eleven months later, Olivia and Scott meet again. You get that she's still mad at him.
Her mad-on doesn't last because the plot does a good job of making Olivia realize pretty quickly that the McGuigans took off for a very valid reason. Can I say how much I love this movie? OPERATION CHRISTMAS has to be the best Christmas movie of 2016, and I don't think it's even close. But maybe I'm biased. I'm very partial to movies that do honor to our service men and women. Olivia is our point-of-view character. Thru her eyes, we get to experience the harsh realities of military life, and, most specially, the sensations of dread and uncertainty when a loved one is deployed in harm's way. I love that the film goes into the tight-knit community made up of those left behind, there to worry and pray and keep a light burning by the window. For Olivia, it's specially hard since she's not okay with worrying. She'd had that with her previous marriage, and she doesn't know anymore if she has what it takes to commit. The baggage that comes with Scott is heavy, considering he's an Army Ranger whose hush-hush missions are about as perilous as they come. As someone says of Scott and those others in his unit, "They're the heroes no one knows about."
Things at Fort Wilcox could better be. Comes the holiday season, and two-thirds of the base are deployed so there are lots of struggling families missing their loved ones. Worse, the Family Deployment Center has shut down due to budget cuts. Olivia may not know her own heart, but she's a good person. She comes up with an idea to reopen the Family Deployment Center. She does this by reviving a classic movie plot conceit: by putting on a show, a musical review fundraiser.
Tricia Helfer is such a beautiful woman, it's sometimes easy to overlook her acting chops. She is truly marvelous in this one. She's onscreen for many of the film's gut-punching emotional moments. It's such a moving story, leavened by laughter and a tender romance that feels right and natural. Marc Blucas is just right for the role of the dignified soldier who honors God, his family, his country, and his military. More than anything else, Scott McGuigan is a good man, and Blucas portrays this perfectly. I think you owe it to yourself to check this movie out, especially during the holiday season. Have a hankie handy.
The military romances are always so great! The lead actor and actress have great chemistry and I liked that it touched on real life problems and not just fairytale stuff.