How Hallmark is Shining a Light on Military Moms in 'The Angel Tree'

As a military spouse herself, star Jill Wagner says this message is near and dear to her heart.

The Angel Tree Final Jill Wagner Lucas Bryant
Photo: ©2020 Crown Media United States LLC/ Steve Wensley

In this uncertain world, in what has been a very rough year, we can all count on one constant. Hallmark Christmas movies are the tonic to this toxic year for which we have all waited. Since the end of October, Hallmark's Countdown to Christmas and Hallmark Movies and Mysteries' Miracles of Christmas lineups have been chock-full of soul soothing holiday fare. Over on HMM, this Saturday's premiere is The Angel Tree starring Jill Wagner and Lucas Bryant. The story centers around a journalist, played by Wagner, who has returned home to uncover the identity of the mysterious gift giver granting the wishes that the people of Pine River have been writing down and leaving on the town's Angel Tree. But the secondary storyline is that of a single mother, serving in the military, and deployed overseas during the holidays. We see the character of Zoe checking in on her son Owen whom she's left in the care of her brother over video calls. Owen is clearly struggling with the absence of his mom as Christmas nears.

Wagner, whose husband is currently a Major in the Army, understands the pain and sacrifice that military families make, and what that uncertainty of deployment feels like. Speaking of her husband in a recent phone call with Southern Living she said, "he's very much when they call him, he goes." Wagner is also a new mom to 7-month-old, Army Gray, so she was proud to be a part of a project that honors the story of a mom making a sacrifice for her country. Although the North Carolina native has not served herself, she visited troops on a welfare tour in 2013 and said she was so moved by speaking to the female soldiers.

"I talked to a lot of women that were over there and the beautiful thing about what they were telling me to go back and say when I did interviews was 'please shine a light on our husbands at home.' Or our husbands that are home taking care of our children and I thought that was so beautiful for them to say that. Not shine a light on us, we're away from our children. It was, shine a light on our husbands. And I'm sure their husbands would say the same things about them, but it was a beautiful sentiment."

Wagner also shared why she chose to take on this particular role. "When I read the script the simple message of be an angel for someone else was, it just drew me in. And I thought how timely as well. It's not only at Christmas that we should be an angel for someone else but it's any time and it doesn't mean buying gifts. It doesn't have to be something materialistic. It's just, say a kind word, give someone a smile. Just do kind things. And it's a simple message that's all too often forgotten."

Watch The Angel Tree on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, November 21, at 10 PM EST.

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