Hallmark holiday films have evolved over the years. They used to be romantic and almost cheesy, whereas now, these films go deeper and explore not only romantic relationships but genuine friendships and family ties.
A Season for Family is part of the HMM Miracles of Christmas programming event, and it’s so fitting because Hallmark is known for granting Christmas miracles.
This cast is stuffed with Hallmark familiar faces, most notably Brendan Penny and Jessica Sipos from Chesapeake Shores.
It was interesting to see Penny and Sipos play siblings after they had been love interests for so many years on Chesapeake Shores.
Stacey Farber and Edward Ruttle also mixed things up. They’ve played exes and potential love interests on The Spencer Sisters, so it was fun to see them interact differently.
Farber plays Maddy, a single mom who runs a hotel in San Diego, even though her father owns a resort business in Park City, Utah. All her son Wesley (Benjamin Jacobson) wants for Christmas is to meet his brother, who was adopted into another family.
Work and Wesley have become Maddy’s entire life, so she’s ready for a break when they go to her parents for the holidays.
Paul (Penny) was a different type of single parent. His wife, Susan, died two years ago, and his son, Cody (Azriel Dalman), still had trouble forming friendships.
As soon as Wesley and Cody met, they were connected. They finished each other’s sentences and only ate peanut butter and banana sandwiches. While I love Hallmark movies, they aren’t often subtle.
It was more about the journey to granting Wesley’s wish since things are never easy.
Things got complicated when Paul received a phone call from the adoption agency that Rose Peterson was looking for Cody. Who was Rose Peterson?
When Paul and Maddy connected, he learned her full name was Rose Madeline Peterson. Some of his fears were relieved. She wasn’t coming to take back his son, but Cody still didn’t know about the adoption.
Paul: This has to go down in history as one of the biggest coincides of all time.
Maddy: Or fate? I hope you believe me, Paul, I didn’t know. I swear.
As an adult child of adoption, this film fascinated me. When I was Wesley’s age, I wanted nothing more than to learn about my biological family. It never took anything away from my adoptive family. I knew they were the family that raised me.
Now that I’m older, I understand Paul’s point of view better. He wants to protect his son from another shock but doesn’t know if he can keep him from his best friend.
Fate worked in mysterious ways, and no matter how hard Paul tried to keep the boys apart, they kept running into Maddy and Wesley.
A Season for Family sprinkled with magical holiday moments, from an intimate family caroling session to a winter festival where the boys played old-fashioned games.
Wesley acted like an older brother would and even gave Cody the prize when he became frustrated. Their bond was so endearing from the start.
Since their sons were together so often, it was natural that Maddy and Paul were, too.
They felt an instant spark from the minute they met, but neither knew where to go with their relationship.
Paul still felt loyalty to his late wife, and their promise to keep Cody’s adoption a secret, and having Maddy in his life complicated matters.
But fate was a persistent bugger. Fate constantly threw them together to help him for work or double dates, and they kept growing closer, against their better judgment.
Besides the main characters, A Search for Family tremendously integrated their supporting cast and the importance of friendships and family.
Let’s start with Paul’s support system — Taylor (Jessica Sipos) and Jeremy (Edward Ruttle). Penny and Sipos’s longtime connection helped them portray siblings, where Taylor voiced honest concern that her brother needed to move on for both his and Cody’s sakes.
Paul and Jeremy were absolutely delightful as friends and business partners. It amused me how horrified Paul was when his sister and BFF started dating. As Jeremy said, he knew and trusted them both.
Jeremy: Let’s think of the positive aspects of this. Who would you rather be dating your sister, a great guy, who you already know and love, or some random guy who you’re not even going to like? Your family gatherings would be a bummer, but with me, you get me.
Paul: That is true, but you didn’t tell me about it.
Jeremy and Taylor believed in fate and knew that Paul needed to believe in it, too. Cody’s crayon picture was so telling. It included all the people he considered family. It’s like that infamous quote on The Fosters: “DNA doesn’t make a family. Love does.”
While Maddy seemed to have a good relationship with her parents — Charles (Cameron Bancroft) and Frances (Laura Soltis), she also needed to please them, especially her dad.
Both father and daughter seemed prideful and stubborn, and neither would admit that Maddy working at the family resort was better than her returning home. It was endearing how her mom thought it was fate when the resort manager quit so that Maddy could take over.
When her parents learned the truth about the boys, they were even more determined to keep Maddy and Wesley nearby.
Charles asking Maddy to become the hotel manager solved many problems, even if Paul was too blind to realize it initially.
I respected Maddy. While she knew her son would love to move closer to his grandparents, she didn’t want to overstep on Paul’s territory. While I understood Paul’s hesitation to move on, letting Maddy be the manager would solve his problems.
Paul needed the backing of the new resort manager before Charles approved his ski delivery idea, and we know Maddly liked it and that she, Paul, and Jeremy could make it work.
It was so much more than that, though. Paul was afraid of forgetting Susan and moving on. He only leaped when he saw his son was ready. Children are often more mature than we give them credit for.
Cody had already guessed he was adopted, and it didn’t phase him because he was secure in his dad’s love.
Paul: How did you know?
Cody: Because I have ears, and I hear people talk like you, Taylor, and Jeremy.
Paul: How do you feel?
Cody: I feel lucky, like I have the best family in the whole world.
In traditional Hallmark movie fashion, Paul raced to the Petersons to apologize, and he and Maddy reconciled under the night sky. Paul was finally ready to let go of his past and start a future.
Being here with you and everyone, I feel like the luckiest guy in the world.
While some of the film was predictable, brothers reuniting felt like HMM Miracles of Christmas fare. The kids were so excited, and it included all those close to them.
Will A Season for Family become a new holiday favorite? It’s on my list. What would you do if your child wanted to find a sibling?
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Laura Nowak is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on X.