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The Ending Of Falling For Christmas Explained

Following a 3-year movie hiatus (and roughly three times that long since appearing in something the average fan might recognize), Lindsay Lohan returns to acting in the Netflix-by-way-of-the-Hallmark-Channel film "Falling for Christmas," a spin on the time-honored tale of a spoiled woman learning to put others ahead of herself — all wrapped up in a festive bow. "Glee" alumnus Chord Overstreet plays Lohan's love interest, while soap opera star Jack Wagner plays Lohan's hotel mogul father.

While it may not seem like a simple Christmas movie warrants much of a detailed breakdown on the ending, there's plenty of nuance in this "Christmas" package. Not every character's journey is obvious, nor are their motivations. 

While undoubtedly inspired by countless similar stories that have come before, Lohan's take on the holiday rom-com phenomenon surprises in several places, managing its own fun, festive vibe. Between character motivations, possible real magic implications, and the deeper meaning behind some of the name choices, here's every (spoiler-heavy) detail you need to know about the conclusion of "Falling for Christmas."

What really makes Sierra's memory come back?

At its core, "Falling for Christmas" may seem like a love story between Jake (Overstreet) and Sierra (Lohan), but the most crucial relationship is between Sierra and Avy (Olivia Perez). Jake's daughter is the first key to unlocking Sierra's memories, and she also helps with the wish in the first place. Sierra becomes a better person primarily through her conversations with Avy, not Jake.

Of course, the parallel between Sierra's own mother shines through when Sierra has a fleeting memory of her mom brushing her hair when she's taking care of Sierra. These quiet, seemingly minor moments are what offer Sierra the key to breaking through her amnesia. 

It's almost like Sierra is rewarded with a memory every time she does a selfless deed — like she's earning them back through kindness. The entire conceit is akin to a body swap movie without the actual body swap. Each time Sierra takes someone else's shoes for a ride and broadens her perspective, she remembers a little more of herself. 

By the end, there isn't much of the old Sierra left, because she's irrevocably changed. It's not until after her massive good deed of throwing together the party to save Jake's lodge that she remembers her entire life — and by that point, she's made enough significant changes to avoid falling back into destructive patterns.

Is Tad interested in women?

At the beginning of the movie, it seems like Tad's lack of romantic interest in Sierra stems from supreme narcissism. Not only does he never seem keen on spending time with her, but Tad doesn't even seem tempted by the physical components of their relationship, either. An early guess for this behavior is that he's either not interested in physicality at all, or he's getting it somewhere else.

Straying from Sierra would certainly be plausible, given their long-distance relationship and Sierra's lack of observational skills. In fact, Tad doesn't even seem to care about Sierra at all — even as a friend. When she falls off a cliff, he doesn't fret over her survival in the slightest. Given the snowy location, if Jake didn't find her, she likely wouldn't have survived very long.

Tad's motives for their relationship become even clearer when she breaks up with him, because he's barely phased. He immediately asks to use their breakup for clout and invites the hotel worker Terry to their intended New Year's plans. This could have been innocent, save for Tad's eyebrow raise. But Tad displays more romantic interest in that one eyebrow wag to Terry than in his entire relationship with Sierra.

Later, he suggestively winks at Jake when he accidentally professes his love to Tad instead of Sierra. With this pattern of romantic interest, it's likely that he was using Sierra for optics and isn't interested in women at all. Perhaps he'll get his own character growth journey during his romantic getaway with Terry — whose blue-collar status might just be enough to wake Tad up.

Is Santa actually Santa?

The film may be set up as a traditional love story, but there's some real magic in the air on top of the sparks flying between Sierra and Jake. Viewers know that Avy made a wholesome Christmas wish for her dad to find love at the wishing tree, but it may have been more than a naive kid's dream for her father to be happy.

Sierra, Jake, and Avy first meet a man dressed like Santa at the Christmas market, and he just so happens to have the one thing that would spark Sierra's memory lying around his booth: A Santa snow globe. Of course, the object is a callback to Sierra's memory of her mother's snow globe and the first person she comes to remember.

Sure, Santa has a twinkle in his eye, but at this point, that can be chalked up to coincidence. Later in the film, when Jake decides to profess his love to Sierra, they find a gift sleigh at the lodge. So, who, if not Santa, left it for them? 

Another moment alluding to Santa's bona fides is simply outside the realm of coincidence. When Jake tries to find Sierra for the big (not-so-unexpected) romantic declaration, who's there to guide him in the right direction? Yup, Santa. And he lives up to his mildly creepy watcher schtick as he peeps Avy's wish come true with that patented twinkle.

Mr. Belmont intentionally calls Tad the wrong name

One thing's clear throughout the film: Mr. Belmont hates Tad. In fact, a strong case could be made that Sierra's dad mispronounced Tad's name as Ted on purpose. He doesn't seem to have trouble recalling anyone else's name throughout the film, and his disdain for his daughter's boyfriend is clear with every held back eye-roll and pursed lip. 

It's clearly not just because he's dating her daughter, either. When Jake first approaches Mr. Belmont with a rather pushy business agenda, Sierra's father is less than thrilled with the guy. Yet, the minute Mr. Belmont sees how much Jake helped Sierra later on, he immediately accepts him.

Mr. Belmont seems like a bigger fan of Jake and Sierra than Santa at this point. So, Mr. Belmont isn't the overprotective boyfriend-hating-dad he appears to be at the beginning of the movie. He just wants someone who loves and appreciates his daughter. Who can blame the guy? Tad is kind of the worst. Also, some could see it as problematic to make one of the movie's only (likely) LGBTQ+ character the villain, without balancing Tad's awfulness out with a less problematic queer character.

Sierra had a plan all along

After Sierra gets her memories back, it still seems like she hasn't learned much. She goes back with Tad and follows her father rather than her heart. 

But that isn't actually the case. It becomes clear rather quickly that the only reason Sierra falls so quickly back into her lifestyle is to save Jake's lodge. It may seem like her statement to promote the North Star at the beginning of her presser is off the cuff, but she clearly prepared some version of the speech to get her followers to make bookings. Despite the press trying to get her to talk about her engagement and Tad, she wants no part of that discussion and pivots from every attempt — that is, when Tad's not interrupting her. 

While she may be willing to let Jake go at this point, as she's unsure he returns her feelings, her primary goal for everything is to save the lodge. She turns down her father's offer for a position at the hotel, she talks the lodge up on TV, and she's clearly ready to close the door on Tad from the moment she sets foot in the press conference. It's a bit of a welcomed bait-and-switch for audiences who don't quite know where her head is at. 

Yet, for the first time in the entire film, Sierra knows precisely what she wants — and she slyly puts her plan in motion. Sierra spent her entire life playing a part, and she only had to do it for a little while longer to get her happily ever after.

The origin of Balthazar the horse

A horse is a horse, of course, of course — but a horse can also have significant symbolic value. Jake's horse wields the name Balthasar, and he might just be named after a pretty important figure regarding Christmas. You've likely heard of the three Magi who visited Jesus and offered gifts to the baby: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. A common name used for one of those men is Balthasar. Given that the lodge has deep ties to Christmas, it's only fitting that the horse would have a Christmas-related name, and the deeper symbology doesn't end there, either.

Sierra's broken-down conversation with Balthasar is one of the first moments when Jake truly connects with her. He's all but ready to give up on her until he sees how difficult things have been for Sierra as she struggles through basic tasks without knowing who she is or why she doesn't know how to do something as simple as laundry. In that way, like the Magi, Balthasar gives both Sierra and Jake the gift of a second chance. Additionally, Balthasar is the one who saves the day after Jake and Avy find a sled — and gives Jake the opportunity to profess his love. While the name may not scream "horse," it's a pretty fitting name for someone who always listens and brings people together. 

Origin of North star

Balthasar isn't the only name in the film with significant symbolic undertones — and there's actually some overlap between the two. 

Jake's lodge is called the North Star Lodge, referencing the star often associated with finding one's way home. On the surface, the lodge does just that for Sierra, who discovers her true self in the woodsy cabin — despite her disdain for raccoons. In forgetting who she is and living among a modest family with more than their share of love to give, Sierra disavows her most toxic behaviors and focuses on what really matters: love. All of that is thanks to the aptly-named North Star Lodge.

Many people confuse the North Star with the Star of Bethlehem — which is commonly associated with guiding the Magi to find Jesus to offer their gifts. While it's possible the writers are intentionally referencing the perceived connection, or perhaps made a mistake, such parallels to the original Christmas story are a fun way to insert some knowledge into the movie without it becoming overbearing. For people who get the references, they're a nice nod to the religious beliefs of some; if not, the names certainly don't take anything away from the story. 

Mr. Belmont isn't all that superficial

At first glance, it seems like Mr. Belmont might be as superficial as his daughter. He's always busy with work and doesn't seem to care all that much that his daughter is a vapid mess, lacking in both responsibility and a simple understanding of how her actions affect those around her. Yet, toward the end of the move, viewers learn that he promised his late wife he would take care of their daughter; it's just that his way of doing so isn't actually helping.

Instead of Mr. Belmont being painted with the same self-centered brush as Sierra, there's a deeper component. He doesn't give Sierra everything she wants because he has never moved beyond his wife's death' he views a "no" as failing his promise to his late wife. 

The movie never shows him attempting to date or even show an interest in anyone but his wife; his grief adds another layer to an already complicated dynamic. The father-daughter duo have one candid conversation about Sierra's mom (regarding her snow globe), and while neither seem to broach the subject often, neither are unwilling to talk about her — it's just hard on both of them. Luckily for Sierra, she's able to learn life's biggest lessons on her own, and her father is more than happy to support her on her new path, even if it's not working with him. At the end of the day, his heart is in the right place.

The angel tree topper

"Falling for Christmas" is as much of an ode to grief as it is a romance or Christmas film. Sierra and Avy share the grief of losing a mother, while Jake and Mr. Belmont both lost a wife they deeply loved. However, there's one small moment that has much more significance than it might seem at first glance: The angel tree topper. Sierra finds it in Jake's drawer, and he admits that he's not ready to put it up or get rid of it. It's not difficult to see the object as a symbol of his mourning and unwillingness to move on. Yet, it goes a bit deeper than that.

In addition to being indicative of Jake's journey to find love again, the symbology of the topper being an angel is there upon closer observation. Jake and his wife got the topper close to her death, and its importance in the film is representative of Jake's wife's essence — or even spirit — for those who want to go the religious symbolism route. 

Jake asks Sierra to help him put on the topper, indicating his willingness to honor his late wife while moving on, and the same can be said for Sierra. She's not trying to replace Avy's mom or pretend like she doesn't exist. In turn, Avy's mom is right there in spirit, looking over the family every Christmas and giving her own kind of blessing to embrace her family's happiness.

Pop culture references

If the story sounds familiar as a whole, you just might have read Jane Austen's novel "Emma," or at least watched the '90s movie "Clueless," starring Alicia Silverstone. What do these projects have in common? They all feature a wealthy young woman who learns to become a better person while falling in love. Like Cher Horowitz in "Clueless" and Emma in the self-titled novel, Sierra is far more interested in her appearance, status, and superficiality than anything with substance.

Like Cher, Sierra cares a great deal for her father, and her main goal is to please him — but she has to look flawless while doing it, and seems determined to put in minimal effort. While Cher and Emma learn through their mistakes, Sierra needs to lose her memory entirely and enter what feels like an entirely new world to come to grips with the fact that before the accident, she certainly wasn't the best version of herself. 

While Cher donates pricey goods to the Pismo Beach Disaster Relief drive, Sierra dresses in jeans and stops talking down to the hotel staff. At the end of the day, all these projects have similar endings — after all, there's a reason why it's a classic.