We’re not going to call the Mean Girls series of holiday commercials for Walmart a comeback, because Mean Girls never left. From our memes and GIFs to our screens and lips, it has stood as a pillar of Millennial culture, a soothing source of hilarity for nearly 20 years. Of course, that doesn’t mean we weren’t thrilled to see The Plastics all grown up and, for us, Lacey Chabert once again flitting about as Gretchen Weiners was a highlight. So when I got a chance to talk to her over Zoom recently about her holiday partnership with Glade, I had to know: would she be mom friends with her Gretchen? She laughs. “I mean as the heiress to the Toaster Strudel Empire, sure!” she jokes. “I guess she really would be a cool mom.”
Chabert is herself a cool mom these days to 7-year-old daughter Julia, and this time of year she’s all about Christmas... and not just because she’s a Christmas rom-com icon. “When I share the traditions that I grew up with in my childhood with [Julia], I feel like I get to relive that part of my childhood in a way, and also see the magic of the season through her eyes. And it’s just why this time of year is my favorite time of year.”
Driving around looking at holiday light displays, drinking hot chocolate, watching Christmas movies and, yes, Chabert is an Elf on the Shelf mom. She also is an inveterate host. “I love having people come over. I love cooking and there’s nothing like when you have your guests walk in through your front door and there’s Christmas music playing, the decorations are up, and a Glade candle is burning — my personal favorite is Starlight & Snowflakes, it feels like fresh fallen snow and gives you that wintery feeling, which is really nice here in Southern California.”
Chabert appears in two new Hallmark holiday films this year: A Merry Scottish Christmas (in which she reunites with her former Party of Five co-star Scott Wolf... don’t worry, they once again play siblings so it won’t ruin your childhood) and Haul Out The Holly: Lit Up, which were released in November.
“It makes me so excited when someone tells me one of my movies has become a part of their family’s traditions, I feel really honored and I hope that each one is better than the last,” she says. “I hope that I can bring entertainment that is meaningful.”
Chabert has been working with Hallmark since 2010 and in that time she’s appeared in more than 30 movies and produced more than 20. “As I’ve grown with Hallmark over the years, I’ve been able to tell stories where I feel like I’m able to bring a little bit more of myself to each time,” she says. And my goal is to create characters that are relatable and tell stories that are funny and uplifting and touching and hopefully leave people feeling a little happier.” Her relationship with the company, she says, has also allowed her to thrive as a working mom specifically.
“It would be unrealistic and dishonest to say it’s not a juggle,” she says. “And I have learned the biggest thing I can do is to forgive myself for any mistakes that I make. My daughter is the most important part of my life, and I am very thankful for all the opportunity I’ve had with Hallmark, especially as a mom because it does fit my life very well. And the shoots of the movies aren’t very long. In between them, I’m working on developing the next one and publicizing the one that’s coming out. And [when I’m] traveling on location, I’m able to bring her sometimes with me. We’ve made it work as a family and it’s been a beautiful experience.”
Having a child has also allowed her to reflect on her own childhood. She was Julia’s age when she began working and she can recognize now how much her own mother, Julie, sacrificed so Chabert could chase her dreams, and how protective both her parents were as she entered the rarely-kind-to-children world of film and television.
She doesn’t take it for granted as she tries to set an example for Julia. “I look at my daughter and I just hope that I am living my life in a way that she understands that you got to chase your dreams and that anything is possible.”
Though it seems Julia may have a future in another facet of the entertainment industry: criticism. She has watched her mother’s movies (the benefit of making films for Hallmark is that they’re truly family friendly), and does not shy from speaking her mind. “I love getting her reaction. It really means a lot to me. She’s very honest,” says Chabert. “‘Oh, Mommy, I did not like that dress.’ Or, ‘Oh, Mommy, I loved when you wore that.’ ‘I loved when you said that, that was so funny.’ Or, ‘That line wasn’t funny.’ And sometimes I’m like, ‘Whoa, she was right!’” But it’s really sweet that she gets excited to watch the things that I’m making and it means a lot to me.”