Hallmark Christmas movies are a genre all their own. Every year, the channel premieres close to 40 original movies leading up to Christmas, and viewers know exactly what they’re getting out of each one: a whirlwind romance, holiday traditions, and a happy ending.
“I’ve always loved, loved, loved holiday movies — I always thought of them as, like, my guilty pleasure,” says Tamar Laddy ’94, an accomplished television writer who worked on the hit shows Pretty Little Liars and Hart of Dixie. “So at Christmas in 2019, I was just like, ‘I want to write one of these.’”
Laddy, who also teaches undergraduate and graduate students as a lecturer in the Department of Radio, Television, and Film at the University of Texas at Austin, pitched Hallmark an idea early in 2020 and was hired to develop the script. On July 10, Laddy’s Crashing Through the Snow premiered as the channel’s sole new movie for its Christmas in July marathon.
The movie follows Maggie, a single mom who has remained friendly with her ex-husband, Jeff, after his new girlfriend, Kate, unexpectedly invites Maggie on the couple’s planned Christmas vacation with Maggie and Jeff’s daughters. As Maggie becomes intimidated by Kate’s Christmas plans, she teams up with Kate’s brother, Sam, to “win” Christmas in the eyes of her daughters — and (spoiler alert!) Maggie and Sam end up falling in love along the way.
“I’m really proud of it,” Laddy says. “It’s super delightful and just really funny.”
Since Laddy is Jewish, she has only ever celebrated Christmas with her in-laws, including her sister-in-law, Maggie, whom she calls her “Christmas BFF.” Laddy says the movie was inspired in part by Maggie, a single mother who has had to celebrate the holiday away from her son. The movie also features subtle references to her husband’s family’s gatherings: “It’s a love letter to my in-laws and their Christmas traditions.”
Laddy had her family in mind while writing Crashing Through the Snow, but Hallmark Christmas movies are known for their universal appeal. The production company has made a push to be more inclusive and to represent more marginalized communities in its films since coming under fire in recent years. The storylines themselves tend to remain in a bubble free from the controversies of the outside world.
“Christmas really hits a certain nostalgia and emotional core for people,” Laddy says. “It’s the time when you get to be with your family and you’re at home, and I think that’s why a lot of these movies tend to be about people going home or going to be with family. There are always interesting, rich dynamics that can be explored from a storytelling perspective when you’re with your family. I think that’s a big reason why they’re super popular.”
Hallmark recognizes the almost therapeutic importance of its films: Soon after lockdowns were put into effect to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Hallmark announced a Christmas movie marathon.
“Right now, with this time that we’re living through with the pandemic and everything, it’s just so nice to have a happy ending to the story,” Laddy says. “It’s just what everyone needed: a little brightness and a little happiness to their day.”
Now that Crashing Through the Snow has reached viewers, Laddy is busy pitching other movie ideas, and she says she would love to write a Hanukkah movie.
Watch a preview of Tamar Laddy ’94’s Crashing Through the Snow: