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It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and lose sight of one of the real joys of this time of year: connecting with friends and family. In Help for the Holidays, Summer Glau tries to remind a family how important they are to each other, and gets her own Christmas wish in the bargain.

Christine (Glau) is one of Santa’s elves, working at the North Pole to grant the wishes of children, but she can’t help wondering if there’s more to life than this. Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, parents Sara (Eva La Rue) and Scott (Dan Gauthier) are so consumed with running their Christmas store that they’ve lost sight of what really manners. Daughter Ally (Izabela Vidovic) has already lost most of her Christmas spirit at the tender age of 12, but son Will (Mason Cook) still believes. Santa receives his plea that his family have a real Christmas, and assigns Christine to the task.

To complete her mission, Christine must infiltrate the real world, but avoid becoming emotionally attached to anyone and never ever reveal that she’s an elf. Her tools include a magic purse that provides whatever items she needs, a magic wallet that has the exact amount of money required for any purchase, a book of definitions that will answer any questions she has about unfamiliar terms or items, and a glorious wardrobe of dresses, cardigans, and shoes chosen by Mrs. Claus. Christine quickly redecorates her new apartment for Christmas, and I continue to be envious of her.

Santa has decided that the easiest way for Christine to spread Christmas cheer is to become the children’s nanny, since their regular sitter has taken time off to visit family over the holidays. Sara’s brother David (John Brotherton) is filling in when he can, but he doesn’t seem at all put out when Christine arrives to take over his job. No indeed, he’s instantly smitten. As Christine gets to know the family – and David – better, the rule against becoming emotionally involved becomes harder and harder to follow, until finally she steps over the line. Will the children get their wish to have a real Christmas? Will Christine be granted a wish she never knew she had?

Help for the Holidays is holiday movie-watching at its most heart-warming, with characters you’ll love and a story that’s sweet without being saccharine. Even Santa’s involvement feels real. I know, I can’t believe I wrote that either. Glau, who I’ve only seen playing tough (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) or scary (Firefly) is utterly charming as the somewhat naive but completely adorable Christine. She even gets to display some comedy chops here – watch for the scene when the definition book tells her what hot dogs are made of!

Take a break from your hustle and bustle to watch Help for the Holidays, premiering Sunday, December 9 at 8/7c on The Hallmark Channel.

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