A Grandpa for ChristmasA Grandpa for Christmas is a 2007 Hallmark Channel movie that touches the hearts of many grandparents who have not been permitted to be a part of their grandchildren’s lives. It is a good example of Parental Alienation Syndrome, a term coined by child psychiatrist Richard A. Gardner.

Wikipedia decribes the movie’s plot:

“Bert (Ernest Borgnine) is a retired Hollywood actor who has been estranged from his only daughter Marie (Tracy Nelson) for many years. When she ends up in the hospital following a car accident, Social Services places her 10-year-old daughter, Becca (Juliette Goglia), with the grandfather she has never met. The generation gap is apparent as Bert and Becca try to adjust to their new lives together.

The story addresses one of the major issues that face divorced and single parents, what does a father do when the mother does not want you around your child? Do you fight for your child, which can take years, and cost tens of thousands of dollars, or do you simply walk away as she wishes? In the case of Bert, he fought to see his daughter, only to lose at every turn, until he finally gave up, never to see his daughter again, until she is injured, as presented in the movie. Unfortunately, his ex-wife tells the daughter, as well as anyone else, that he is uncaring and unsupportive of his daughter, physically or financially.

In taking in the granddaughter, he never knew about, he is faced with the resentment toward him due to these stories told by the grandmother. Bert is faced with the dilemma of whether to tell his granddaughter, and later his daughter, the truth, which if they believe him, may ruin their memory of the late grandmother, or stay quiet. The dilemma is resolved when one of Bert’s friends tells the mother the truth.”

I had the pleasure of spending some time with Ernest Borgnine several years ago at a charity golf tournament in Louisville, Kentucky, and he was simply delightful at every turn.

His roll in A Grandpa for Christmas earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture made for Television, for his performance. At 90, Borgnine was the oldest Golden Globe nominee ever.


The Hallmark Channel will air this emotional movie again on December 27th at 12:00 AM. Set it up to record on your TiVo or DVR, unless you have AT&T U-verse who dropped the Hallmark channels this past August in a dispute with the network over fees. (The movie is also available on DVD.)

For more information regarding non-custodial parents, read the Federal Child Support Enforcement Handbook.

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