breaking battlegrounds

Podcast 169: Deck the Heartstrings: A Holiday Special with ‘Deck the Hallmark’ Podcast Hosts, and Authors Celeste Edmunds and Richard Paul Evans

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Podcast 169: Deck the Heartstrings: A Holiday Special with 'Deck the Hallmark' Podcast Hosts, and Authors Celeste Edmunds and Richard Paul Evans

Join us for a heartwarming holiday episode of Breaking Battlegrounds with Chuck Warren and Sam Stone where the spirit of the season shines through stories of resilience, joy, and transformation. Our first guests are the hosts of the beloved “Deck the Hallmark” podcast – Brandon Gray and Daniel Thompson are known for their diverse takes on Hallmark films. Listen as Brandon shares his passion for Hallmark’s Christmas cheer, while “Grumpy Dan” gives us the scoop on why he’s the outlier of the group. They’ll reveal behind-the-scenes facts about Hallmark movies, discuss their favorite holiday films, and answer why they think Hallmark movies are loved by so many.

In the second half of the show, we’re joined by the inspiring Celeste Edmunds, Executive Director of The Christmas Box International, along with renowned author Richard Paul Evans. Celeste’s story of overcoming a harrowing childhood as detailed in her bestselling book, “Garbage Bag Girl,” co-written with Richard Paul Evans, offers a message of hope and courage. They will discuss the transformative work being done at The Christmas Box International, and how Celeste’s experiences fuel her dedication to improving the lives of children in the foster care system. This episode is a blend of light-hearted holiday banter and profound stories of resilience, celebrating the season’s ability to inspire hope and transformation.

About our guests

Brandon Gray is the heart of the Hallmark Christmas movie fandom within the group. His love for the channel’s festive rom-coms sparked the idea for the podcast as a way to bond with friends over the ever-growing lineup of holiday films.

Daniel Thompson, affectionately known as “Grumpy Dan” by fans, brings a critical eye to the Hallmark movie empire. A self-proclaimed anti-establishment figure in the world of Hallmark critiques, Dan’s unique perspective adds spice to the podcast. Stepping down from his principal role at Shannon Forest after the 2018-19 school year, he now dedicates his time fully to the podcast.

Together, the “Deck the Hallmark” hosts, who began their journey as educators at Shannon Forest Christian School, have carved out a niche in the podcasting world. They’ve watched every Hallmark movie, providing them a wealth of content to discuss, and eagerly share their holiday film insights at and across podcast platforms.

The Christmas Box International Executive Director Celeste L. Edmunds understands what the children she serves at The Christmas Box House emergency shelters are going through. She went through it herself. Her biological parents were addicts, and her childhood was an ongoing cycle of police calls, fighting, and physical, sexual, and mental abuse. At age 7, Celeste was taken from her home and placed into a child welfare system, where moving every few months to a new environment became normal. By age sixteen, she had lived in more than 30 cities ultimately finding home in an unlikely place. Her book “Garbage Bag Girl” is her incredible story of hope and love.

Richard Paul Evans, an award-winning author, has sold nearly 39 million copies of his books worldwide, written 46 consecutive New York Times bestsellers and has had seven of his books produced as television movies (CBS, TNT and Hallmark.) Last November, Evans’ first feature film, The Noel Diary starring Justin Hartley (This is Us) and directed by Charles Shyer (Father of the Bride, Private Benjamin) was the #1 Netflix movie in the world the week after Thanksgiving and spent five weeks among the top Netflix movies in the world.

Evans hopes Garbage Bag Girl will save children’s lives and help the half million children in the foster care system today.


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