48 Christmas Wishes is a Christmas story with two story lines that intersect with each other. The main story is about two of Santa's elves, Mindy and Cam, making a risky journey from the North Pole to a small town named "Minnedoza" to fulfill every child's Christmas wish. If even one wish is not granted, then Christmas will be gone forever. The subplot is about a broken family--including two kids named Blake and Emma, and their single mother Lara--that struggles with celebrating the holidays due to their father's unknown death six years ago, prior to the events depicted in the movie. What makes this movie special is the healing journey that unfolds when Blake, a human boy, becomes friends with Mindy and Cam and helps the elves on their quest.
There are many elements of the film that carry out the message of the importance of family and the holiday spirit during the Christmas season.
From looking at the characters, the viewers can easily see that there is representation of Asians and Black people in this film. One of the Santa's elves, George, is a central Black character. George is a powerful ally who guides Mindy and Cam. His job is to make sure everything in the North Pole runs smoothly, including the mail room, where both Mindy and Cam work. When Sammy, another elf, leaves her post, she makes sure that Mindy and Cam are still in the mail room. She plotted to hide the two children before George could find out they're missing. But Sammy's plans to fool George eventually backfire since George is with Santa Claus and observes all the operations of the North Pole.
Cam, portrayed by Ethan Yang, is of Asian descent and the main character of the film, offering strong representation that Asian children can look up to. He is Mindy's friend and joins her on a quest to Minnedoza. Still, he struggles to blend in with the other human kids due to his elvish background. Ironically, Cam is also an expert on humans, as shown when he smoothly communicates with human kids in the real world during the holiday season.
The importance of maintaining family bonds and traditions is a main theme of 48 Christmas Wishes. Emma, Blake's older sister, experiences emptiness in her heart due to their father's death and is unable to enjoy the holidays because she knows somebody is missing from her life. Their mother, Lara, announces that she got the kids a pet dog; while Blake is happy with the dog, Emma states that not even such a lovable pet can replace their dad.
Emma clearly struggles with a recent death in her family, and the challenges of adolescence add more heaviness to her burden. Viewers can easily see how attached she is to her father. She starts out as being cranky, cold and distant. Over the course of the movie, however, Emma discovers that Mindy and Cam are elves from the North Pole. Their encouraging presence helps her open up to them about her father's death.
The opening sequence of the movie includes flashbacks of Blake and Emma's lives when their father was around. The flashbacks are indicated by the camera's lighting and young actors who played Emma and Blake when they were younger. After Lara sees Blake's letter to Santa Claus, she decides to write her letter to Santa herself, hoping he will fulfill her wish. The letters Mindy and Cam receive from the kids in Minnedoza are wishes that will be granted on Christmas Day. As Mindy and Cam collect a list of wishes from human beings, viewers discover that many of the Christmas wishes involve a physical object such as a toy, something the elves can make by hand. But Lara's wish is an abstract concept that cannot be literally built. The elves have no idea how to grant such a unique wish.
The viewers also see several boxes containing mementos of Lara's husband, John: a cardboard box labeled "X-Mas John" and a red toolbox containing letters to Blake, Emma and Lara. At the end of the movie, Blake, Emma and Lara go through all of the letters their dad wrote to them and remind each other that they are still family.
The Christmas season can be stressful for some kids, especially those who are dealing with the death of a parent, the death of a relative, or a tragic divorce. This is because Christmas is a holiday where family comes together, and it's not always easy to bring relatives close together. During the climax of the film, Emma states to Mindy that all she and her family ever wanted for Christmas was to be a family again. Emma reveals that Lara, their mother, wrote the last wish. In order to fulfill their mother's wish, Blake and Emma decide to read the poem their dad read at the local town stage in front of the local crowds. As an added special touch, Blake wears the Santa suit. The spoken poem symbolizes the upholding of a meaningful family tradition. At the end, Emma finally accepts the dog into the family, a testament to her journey from grief to acceptance.
48 Christmas Wishes contains magical elements related to the holiday season. One element is when a bag of Christmas wishes get destroyed at the North Pole. When Cam, Sammy and Mindy are playing catch with the bag of letters, Mindy accidentally tosses the bag into the fireplace. The magical effect is that the bag disappears within the green sparkles, never to be seen again.
Another notable element arises when Mindy and Cam are visiting Minnedoza and they accidentally knock down a display. Blake meets them for the first time, and Mindy and Cam rebuild the display in seconds. Mindy and Cam make these speedy moves within a short time frame, showcasing the power of teamwork. Blake soon discovers the kids he met are actual elves because of their quick mastery with building almost anything imaginable.
The globe at the North Pole allows the elves the check on Blake and Emma during the ending sequence of the movie. Although Blake can't hear the elves, the elves can still see him and sense his happiness. Mindy and Cam have fulfilled the last wish, quite a feat since it was one that was unheard and only felt. Lara's wish presents the theme of unbreakable family bonds and proves that people don't always need a toy to celebrate Christmas.
Overall, 48 Christmas Wishes is a movie that anyone can watch, and it's especially recommended for children who are dealing with divorce and death within their families. It is sure to give them gratitude for the family dynamic they have and even a spark of hope.