Lifetime’s Holiday in Santa Fe is full of the kind of warmth you’d expect from a film dealing with grief and art. Where I usually turn to cheesy Christmas movies for the predictable love stories and the fun décor, this one got me with Aimee Garcia’s character, Maggie Ortega.
Starring alongside Aimee Garcia, Holiday in Santa Fe features Mario Lopez (you might know him, who knows), Emeraude Toubia, Gia Lopez, Efrain Figueroa, Hank Chen, and more in a film about saving a family-owned Christmas store. Nothing about the film’s plot is new or original, but that’s completely fine because it’s personal, and you could feel every ounce of that heart throughout the story.
Written by Cristela Alonzo, it’s evocatively clear as day that, if nothing else, Holiday in Santa Fe is the kind of love letter written from of grief and heartache. It’s the kind of love letter, much like Zoey’s Extraordinary Christmas, for instance, that if you know close suffering—you’ll likely feel the trials of it too. You’ll especially feel it if, like Maggie, you lost the person who passed down to talent to you.
As a fan of Aimee Garcia’s work on Netflix’s Lucifer, she is initially the reason I added this one onto my 2021 to-watch list, and I’m thrilled to have done so because her performance as Maggie was full of the kind of warmth that hits hard. Maggie’s inability to grasp that she too is just as great of an artist as her mother is entirely relatable. It’s raw, and it’s natural, and it’s something so many creative people go through. Myself included as a writer. And when all eyes are on you, when everyone expects you to carry on with the art someone’s left you with, it can be tough to juggle the pressure alongside grief, which so much of it is visible through Maggie’s story.
Losing the person you are most alike does something entirely unexplainable to a person. You spend your entire life after their death wondering if you could ever be half the person they were, but beyond that, you find yourself wanting their advice again. You find yourself wanting to know everything about the way they struggled through the hurdles you’re going through. And no matter how much time passes, that pain doesn’t necessarily get easier. I still find myself longing for my father’s advice when writer’s block gets the best of me or when it feels like I’m not doing enough.
But sometimes, the best things we produce come from the darkest moments. And seeing Maggie’s creation come to life after realizing that maybe they wouldn’t get the money their way was the type of gorgeously cathartic moment I’m glad Holiday in Santa Fe incorporated. As much as this story is about love and family, it’s also about the magnificence of art; thus, the line about art being beautiful despite its imperfections is so fitting for this film because, in truth, it’s not perfect either, but in every way, it is absolutely beautiful.
And if you’re here for the love story, Belinda and Tony are both delightful—though I personally wish there was a bit more longing between the two, and the pacing felt slightly off, Lopez and Toubia’s chemistry was sweet nevertheless. And their moments are as adorable as one would hope they’d be. This town has a ham tossing contest? I don’t even know how to grapple with that.
Holiday in Santa Fe is streaming now on Lifetime, and it’s a film worth watching without a doubt.