The Christmas Cottage is the story of a pivotal moment in painter Thomas Kinkade’s career; when he had to help his mother keep the family home from falling into foreclosure and help his mentor and neighbor Glen through his last days. Glen’s main disabilities are due to age; he has blurry vision, memory problems, and trouble walking, but refuses to use a walker even when one is procured for him. However, he does agree to use a gnarled branch, which he calls his “staff and rod”, pointing out that it could also be used to fight off his enemies if need be. He refuses any attempt to get him out of the house and seems to be in a depression as well, often bemoaning the fact that he can no longer capture his late wife on canvas.
Another elderly character is seen out and about more often in their little town; an old lady with hearing problems who’s still playing the piano for the annual Christmas pageant and drinking martinis. Though she’s seen getting pushed around in a wheelchair for longer distances, she’s still able to stand and even help fix up the Kinkade family cottage towards the end.
Soon after the town appears en masse at the cottage, Glen hobbles over on his staff and rod to deliver his last painting as a gift. He tells them to sell it and pay off the mortgage, and explains to Thomas that he had finally figured out the secret: that leaves are impermanent, so one should always paint the light that illuminates them instead. For an uncomfortable moment, we at Disability Movies were sure he was about to fulfill the cliche of the cripple who imparts his inspirational message and promptly dies. But Glen recovers himself, has Christmas dinner with the family, and dies serenely in his studio instead.