The Christmas Card


I loved this movie, not only because it was filmed in our Grass Valley and Nevada City area, but it reminds me of how Mel and I met. Mel had served in the Coast Guard when he was barely out of high school, and after his discharge from service he attended aircraft school, did prototype on planes at Oakland Airport and Japan, and then drove a lumber truck in the Bay Area. That's when we met. He was visiting his parents in Nevada City, and I happened to see his new Harley Davidson motorcycle at a party. I asked a friend to find out if Mel  would mind giving me a ride on it. Like a gentleman, he did, and that ride's lasted almost fifty-seven years.

Before I get into the movie, that revolves around the Kubich Sawmill, here are some photos I took when we visited the mill last year (2008). Being in the same business, we've occasionally done business with the owners over the years, and sometimes refer customers to them. This day Mel wanted to ask Tom about the price of Cedar.

If you've seen the movie...You'll recognize the office in this picture.

The Forklift operator's doing a great job maneuvering this unit of lumber.


And about the movie....


While serving in Afghanistan, Army Sgt. Cody Cullen (John Newton) receives one of the handmade Christmas  cards Faith Spelman (Alice Evans) sent to the servicemen to help them through their tough time. He can't stop rereading the  card that includes photos of her picturesque hometown of Nevada City.

Cody's unit is attacked and a soldier serving under Cody's lead is killed in a bomb blast, so Cody is allowed to go back to the states on leave to return the soldier's dog tags to the his fiancée. Then he sets off to find the town that the Christmas card described. What he finds is a town that seems perfect in every way. The people are very friendly and nice. He goes to a local diner and orders a sandwich, on rye, curly fries and a hot chocolate with marshmallows, and while waiting, he goes into the bathroom. Meanwhile, Faith walks into the diner and starts to eat his food thinking it's her order, that's exactly the same. The irony is that the two meet over the lunch without knowing who the other is. They politely talk. She's interesting, but he's looking for the woman that sent the Christmas Card,  so asks where he can attend a church service. At church, he discovers that Faith is the one who sent the Card to servicemen through her church. Cody soon finds himself drawing close to Faith and her family. After performing a heroic act, he winds up practically adopted into the Spelman family and even takes a temporary job at the family lumber mill. Only Faith's father Luke (Ed Asner) knows that the card brought Cody to their town. Although Faith's parents, Luke and Rosie (Lois Nettleton), adore Cody -- and Faith connects with him as well -- there's the nagging question about her wealthy but largely absent boyfriend Paul (Ben Weber),  who never stays around. He's not comfortable with a family orientated small town atmosphere, and plans on making Faith leave her hometown once they marry. That's all I'll tell, because some of you may not have seen it.

According to the Union newspaper it's the it's the highest-rated Hallmark Channel original movie ever aired. Here's a short video and a few photos from it.

Ed Asner, Alice Evens and John Newton

We're not moving until you say you will marry me.

Ed's saying, "I wasn't kidding..." And neither am I. This movie is wonderful.



Ken Kinder writes, "A touching story that tugs at your heart and is entertaining from start to finish. A must see for romantics and veterans alike. It brought back so many memories for me as I know this town like the back of my hand and have been in most of the buildings portrayed in this movie. Have even written about some of them in my posts on Pashnit. Where Cody first rides his motorcycle across the bridge when going to Nevada City is going across the Yuba River and then crosses it again at Bridgeport and I have written about these being favorite haunts of mine as a young man before and after I returned home from the army. The diner where Cody ate when he first arrives in town is one I have also eaten in and then after lunch he crosses the street to enter The National Hotel in Nevada City to spend the night.

I too have spent time in this hotel many times for different reasons, one was "It was in 1955 that Chuck Donnelly, my brother Neal and myself were shuttling finished lumber from Sierra Mountain Mills in celestial valley up past North San Juan across the middle fork of the Yuba river to this railroad station for transferring onto flat cars that I got acquainted with this now defunct station. In 1955 it was a robust place of business that was an important commerce for Auburn. I recall our working around the clock hauling boards to this station just grabbing a few minutes sleep over the steering wheel until we became exhausted and decided to get a hotel room for us to shower and get some much needed rest. My brother Neal was the first to unload, so he headed to Nevada City to get us a room in the National Hotel and the only room available was the Honeymoon Suite.

After Neal left and Chuck got unloaded he developed some engine problems, so I got rid of my load and the two of us messed with his truck for about 4 hours until we got it working again. Then we were wide awake and when we arrived in Nevada City and went up to the room to shower we decided to head back to the mill for more lumber to haul. We told my brother since we didn't sleep in the room we were not going to split the room cost with him. He was hotter than a bonfire until we gave him some doby for our share.

When I got out of the army in 1954 I drove truck for Ostrom Lumber and Del Shiffner one of the owners of this company along with the Pendola family would hold the annual Christmas party at the National Hotel. My mother in law celebrated her 80th birthday in the dining room of the National Hotel given by her family.

The sawmill depicted in this movie is so much like many of the mills that dotted the landscape in and around Grass Valley, Nevada City and all over the Sierra Nevada mountain range. I also wrote about working 12 hour shifts splitting with Jim Maloney on Jerry Dodges Mack truck and when my two weeks of the 4 AM to 4 PM shift came around, I would shortly after 4 PM get on my 52 Matchless 500 single and ride down to the Southfork of Yuba river bridge portrayed at the end of the movie and the very last scene in the movie is the place in that river I took my bath, got back on my bike and rode home to my bachelor pad across the street from Nevada City high school. Beginning to see why I love this place so much?