The Holiday Calendar – It’s Magic! or Haunted! or Something!

Disclaimer: This blog post contains spoilers for the movie The Holiday Calendar on Netflix.
If you haven’t seen this movie and want to see it spoiler free — Stop and come back later.
If you haven’t seen this movie, have no plans to see this movie, and just want to hear me talk about it — Proceed.
If you haven’t seen this movie and don’t care about spoilers/want to read this post in viewing preparation — Proceed.
If you have already seen this movie and can’t wait to hear my hot takes — Proceed.

Because I know this is the kind of investigative journalism-style writing you crave, I went back through this movie multiple times trying desperately to decipher what the magical calendar was really trying to tell Abby. Sadly, all I learned was that this movie makes very little sense. But I’m still gonna need you to read and enjoy this post to reward my fruitless labor!

Abby is a struggling photographer who feels stuck at her dead-end studio photography job. She is pleasantly surprised when her childhood best friend, Josh, returns home from a year of backpacking across Europe for his travel blog. Just in time for the holiday season, Abby’s grandfather gifts her with an antique Advent calendar that she quickly discovers is… MAGIC! Or HAUNTED! Or whatever. Each night at midnight, one door opens, revealing a small trinket. And now we shall let this calendar be our guide as we walk through this movie.

Day 1 — Boots

The first calendar door opens to reveal the first trinket — a pair of boots. That day, Josh and Abby take a break from their Santa photo job to grab lunch, and Josh gifts her with… you’ll never guess it — BOOTS, YAWL! Side note: It’s kind of weird to give someone a Christmas present weeks before Christmas… on their lunch break, right?

Day 2 — Christmas Tree

Abby has a mild car accident when a Christmas tree falls off the car in front of her and she runs over said Christmas tree. The owner of said Christmas tree, who clearly did a very poor job of securing it to his car, turns out to be hot.

Day 3 — Nutcracker

On the evening of day 3, Abby attends her niece’s Christmas program, and is surprised to find the hot man who cannot properly secure trees to cars there. She learns that his name is Ty and his daughter is dressed as… A NUTCRACKER.

can you believe fab 5 GIF by Queer Eye

Day 4 — Candy Cane

The next day, Abby is gravely wounded in a tragic candy cane accident (and by gravely, I mean a wrist sprain). When she arrives at the doctor’s office to get it checked out, the doctor who ends up seeing her is Ty. Her asks her out, and they go on their first date later that evening.

Day 5 —Ice Skate

Abby’s ice-skating themed day includes a date to the rink with Ty and an afternoon spent photographing skaters with Josh. Josh says to Abby, “looks like you got your photo mojo back,” which is WILD considering these are the photos she took:

So blurry! So crooked!
It’s just feet, tho.
Are you serious with this one, Abby?

I would hate to see her what her photos look like when she doesn’t have her mojo.

Day 6 — Reindeer

On day 6 the calendar presents her with a small animal. She holds it up to the light and looks puzzled. “Horse?” she says, “no, reindeer.” The camera then zooms in on what is very clearly a reindeer and not in any way a horse. The next shot is of her and Ty riding in a HORSE-drawn carriage. It’s a very confusing series of events.

Day 7 — ???

Day 7 is the first of many days where we are not shown the calendar’s contents.

Day 8 — ???

Day 9 — Caroler

On day 9, the calendar produces a caroler. Ty and Abby are serenaded by carolers.  

Matt Leblanc Wow GIF by Friends

Day 10 — ???

Day 11 — ???

Day 12 — ???

Day 13 — ???

Day 14 — Wreath

Ty sends Abby an enormous wreath as a gift. Ok.

Day 15 — Three Wise Men

Abby’s grandfather (spoiler alert, he’s the first “wise man”) warns Abby that Ty seems too “polished.” Ty takes her on a date to a soup kitchen, and she hangs out with a couple of random old guys (wise men part II, activate!) who also warn her about Ty being fake. That night she breaks up with him — partially because they aren’t connecting on a deep level, but mostly because he doesn’t believe that her calendar is haunted.

Day 16 — Santa Hat

A bunch of dramatic stuff happens on this day – Abby gets the chance to photograph the town tree lighting for the mayor’s office, Josh loses the pictures, Abby gets fired over it, Abby and Josh have a huge fight, etc. That evening she angrily throws the calendar away. She puts it into a bag, then puts the bag into a bin, then puts the bin into the trash can. It all seems a little unnecessary. She has a change of heart and takes the bin back out of the garbage and puts it into the trunk of her car.

I am still not sure what a Santa hat had to with any of it.

Lisa Kudrow Jewish GIF by The Comeback HBO

Day 17 — ???

Having lost her job and her boyfriend, Abby wallows in self-pity on her couch. She watches A Christmas Prince and Christmas Inheritance on Netflix, while looking for a new job on the internet.

Day 18 — ???

Abby continues to wallow on her couch in self-pity.

Day 19 — ???

Abby’s sister comes by to give her a pep talk and caps it off with the sentence “you smell like Cheetos and sadness.” I like to think that, had she checked the calendar that day, it would have produced a sadness Cheeto.

Day 20 — ???

Abby throws away her sadness Cheetos and gets back to living life.

Day 21 — ???

Abby takes some of her photos to a fundraiser for her nieces’ school (I think? It’s a fundraiser for something) and the woman who pulls the photos out of her trunk for her takes the Advent calendar as well, and it is sold to an anonymous donor. Oops.

She tries to call and text Josh to make up after their fight, but he ignores both.

Day 22 — ???

Abby confesses to her grandfather that she accidentally sold the calendar. He tells her that the calendar is magic and will find its way back to her (which is kind of a manipulative lie considering he is the one who bought the calendar and plans to give it to Josh to give back to her). Josh continues to ignore her.

Day 23 — ???

Josh continues to ignore her.

Day 24 — ???

Josh continues to ignore her.

Day 25 — Snowflake

On Christmas morning, the calendar reappears on her doorstep. When she brings it inside, day 25 opens to reveal a snowflake. As she sifts through the calendar’s contents, she realizes that the calendar was leading her to Josh the entire time. There is a montage that is meant to support this epiphany, but the evidence is extremely weak:

  1. The Christmas tree – the flashback shows Abby and Josh… in a room that has a Christmas tree in it. That’s it, that’s the evidence. They were just… near a Christmas tree together at Christmastime.
  2. The candy cane thing tracks because he was, in fact, the person who caused the candy cane accident (though it is a little more romantic to fall in love with the person who fixes up your injury than the person who caused it).
  3. The nutcracker shows a flashback to them working together doing Santa photos and their boss is dressed as a nutcracker. So… that’s it.
  4. And the final and least compelling evidence flashback – she holds the angel trinket and has a flashback of herself twirling to show Josh her outfit and he says, “you look perfect, just like you always do.” No explanation whatsoever as to how this has anything to do with an angel. My husband’s theory is that the script originally called for Josh to say, “you look like an angel,” and he just ad-libbed something else and they didn’t bother to fix it.
Confused The Big Lebowski GIF

Abby finds a note in the back of the calendar with an address. She drives to the address to find Josh waiting for her (in the snow! Because the last trinket was a snowflake! Get it?!) and he has bought a building for them to open a studio together in. They kiss, etc.

Our Heroine

Abby is… fine. The actress is really cute and fun to watch, but the character is kind of sensitive and pitiful. I mean breaking up with someone she has been seeing for less than 2 weeks seems to send her spiraling. And the thing that makes her most upset is the fact that he doesn’t believe her about the haunted calendar? Chill out, Abby.

The Love Interest

Josh is simultaneously so cute and so dumb. Every scene he was in had me wondering if your heart can freeze over and thaw up at the exact same time. Just adorable and ridiculous.

Their Chemistry

Kat Graham and Quincy Brown were apparently friends before filming this movie, which I think contributes to their chemistry. They do have great chemistry and are really believable as friends, but this article refers to “hot, hot, hot scenes” in this movie, which makes me wonder if this writer saw a different movie than I did?

Best Secondary Character

Josh’s friend and roommate Fernando is a major show-stealer. I particularly love the scene when Abby calls Fernando to try and figure out where Josh is, and Fernando has no idea and makes a bunch of unhelpful comments and guesses, all while sobbing and watching Christmas Inheritance.

Worst Secondary Character

Easily Abby’s mom. It feels like the actress playing her mom was in a completely different movie or something. Her whole tone and vibe were just super discordant with the other performances. It’s really strange.

Most Ridiculous Line

“Great, my personal drama’s trending.”

Fashion Analysis

Josh’s style involves a lot of beanies and wearing his coat indoors. But the worst thing about Josh’s vibe is his regular use of dress vests in casual outfits.

I love Abby’s style. Lots of mini skirts with pantyhose, cozy sweaters, etc.

Josh and Nando’s A Christmas Story costumes were by far the best lewks of the movie.

Miscellaneous Thoughts

Josh is constantly eating cookies during this movie, and they are almost always plain iced sugar cookies. I love cookies as much as anyone, but if you are going to eat cookies constantly, switch it up every once in a while.

It’s sweet and all that Josh was buying and setting up their studio in the week before Christmas, but he was also completely ignoring all of Abby’s phone calls and texts and not communicating with her at all. Like, you can’t just shoot her a text to let her know y’all are cool and you’re not dead?

My Rating

5/10. This movie is cute, and the cast is good, but it’s not quite good enough and not quite ridiculous enough.


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