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Journey Back to Christmas
Year - 2016
Studio - The Hallmark Channel
Stars - Candace Cameron Bure, Oliver Hudson, Brooke Nevin, Tom Skerritt, Eamon Hanson, Gwynyth Walsh
Director - Mel Damski
Writing Credits - Marie Nation
Music - Christopher Nickel
It is December 22, 1945, and Christmas festivities are in high pitch for everyone except Hannah (Candace Cameron Bure) who is a hospital nurse. Her husband has been reported as lost in the World War II fighting in France. One of her patients, a young boy, Toby (Eamon Hanson) reminds her that the “Christmas comet” is due that night, appearing in the skies every 72 years. He describes it as a miracle. She avoids the employee holiday party, and drives home, just as a winter storm is starting. At her house, she discovers a lost golden retriever and she drives to return him to the owner, whose address is on the dog’s collar. They are excited at the dog’s return and suggest she stay the night because of the fierce storm now raging. But Hannah starts to drive back, only to get stuck in a large snowbank. In the blinding snowstorm she finds shelter in a shed. But, once inside, there is a flash of light and a loud explosion, and she is knocked unconscious.
The following morning, she emerges from the shed to find that the weather is calm, but that everything about the town is almost unrecognizable, such as buildings, automobiles, and clothing fashions. When others realize that she seems disoriented they call the police. Two officers arrive, Jake (Oliver Hudson) and Sarah (Brooke Nevin) arrive and question her, and ultimately discover that she thinks it is the year 1945, when it is actually 2016. Jake decides to take Hannah to stay with his family at their large farm, rather than having her processed for mental health care.
While some of his family, as well as local townspeople are sympathetic to Hannah’s confusion, others are suspicious that she is working some kind of a scam. She describes facts about Jake’s family farm that pre-date his knowledge of its history. Also, Hannah explains that the town library building was the hospital where she worked in her time period, and leads them to a hidden basement storeroom. There, they discover the Christmas lights that had once decorated the town gazebo, as pictured on a 1940s era postcard. The possibility that Hannah has actually traveled forward in time 71 years begins to seem more credible.
One old man, Tobias Cook (Tom Skerritt) believes Hannah. He reveals to her that he is Toby, the young boy she had treated in the hospital in 1945. He explains to everyone that the Christmas comet is due to again appear that night, and that he believes it is the key to Hannah’s returning to her time. Hannah goes to the old shed to await the comet.
When the townspeople open the shed the next morning, they are happy to find that it is empty. Tobias shows them photographs from a camera Hannah had left behind at the hospital. One of the photos show Jake’s parents, whom Hannah had introduced to each other. He realizes that, without Hannah, he and his family wouldn’t even exist.
Hannah, back in 1945, is trying to dig her car out from a snowbank, apparently with no memory of her time travel adventure. A soldier appears, saying, “You should let your husband do that.” It is, indeed, her husband, home from the War, safe and sound after all.
The film took dramatic license with the comet science. It referred to the “de Vico” comet and said that it returned every 71 years. Actually, that comet’s orbital period is 74 years, but it is the “Wirtanen" comet that is sometimes referred to as the Christmas comet, and it passes by Earth approximately every 11 years.