How Did Daniel Die in Best Christmas Ever?

In Netflix’s feel-good holiday film, ‘Best. Christmas, Ever!’ the narrative brings two different families together for a hilarious and wholesome holiday season ripe with misunderstandings and petty grievances. Jackie Jennings likes to send out a yearly family newsletter near Christmas to share her family’s wins with her loved ones. However, her friend, Charlotte Sanders, living a less-than-ideal life, refuses to believe the woman’s boastful newsletter holds the truth. Therefore, their reunion makes for quite a spectacle when Charlotte’s young son, Grant, tricks his parents into driving up to Jackie’s house a few days before Christmas.

As the Sanders and Jennings spend the holiday season together, Charlotte’s suspicions of the other woman grow once she discovers that her husband, Rob, has been in secret contact with Jackie, who used to be his girlfriend in college. As such, Charlotte tries to uncover the truth behind Jackie’s seemingly perfect life and perfect family, including the elusive oldest son, Daniel, who is suspiciously absent from the holiday festivities. SPOILERS AHEAD!

Why Isn’t Daniel Home For Christmas?

The film sets up Charlotte’s distrust of Jackie early on during the former’s character introduction. The two women have known each other since college. Therefore, even though their connection has fizzled out over the years, Jackie keeps Charlotte and her family in the loop through her Christmas newsletter. Nevertheless, the instances detailed within the newsletter are so ambitious and incredible they seem almost too good to be true.

As a result, Charlotte stands firm in her belief that Jackie’s life isn’t as perfect as she makes it out to be. The same explanation also makes her feel better about her own life, which hasn’t turned out anywhere near how Charlotte wanted it to. Compared to Jackie’s Harvard-attending daughter, Beatrix, and humanitarian son, Daniel, Charlotte feels her own whimsical children fall short.

Likewise, where Jackie achieved her entrepreneurial dreams and retired at an early age, Charlotte could never realize her dreams of becoming an inventor and was stuck in a dead-end placeholder job instead. Therefore, when the other woman is forced to spend Christmas within Jackie’s picture-perfect world, it leads jealousy to rear its ugly head. Consequently, in the days leading up to Christmas, while the rest of the two families enjoy their time together, Charlotte tries to garner evidence to disprove the Jennings Family Newsletter.

Alas, the more Charlotte looks into the family, the more it becomes clear that Jackie is an honest woman. Still, near the end, Jackie catches up to Charlotte’s snooping, leading to a momentary friction between the two women. Nonetheless, they are able to work through it, in the true spirit of Christmas, and decide to spend the holiday together with each other’s families.

Moreover, Charlotte becomes inspired by Jackie’s spontaneity, something the former has been sorely lacking all her life. Consequently, she decides to invest her rain day savings in Rob’s dream project as a Christmas present. However, the bold decision doesn’t end up working out for Charlotte as she discovers that she is on the verge of losing her job. During this time, Charlotte, frustrated at things refusing to work out for her, learns about Jackie’s own personal tragedy and unravels the mystery behind Daniel in one swift stroke.

As it would turn out, The Jennings lost their oldest kid, Daniel, a few years ago to an unnamed misfortune. After the kid’s passing, Jackie started a fund in his name to achieve his dreams and work towards building water purification systems in Africa. As such, every year, the mother continued to include her son in the newsletter by detailing the fund’s achievements as his own to keep his memory alive.

Upon learning the truth about Daniel’s passing, Charlotte and Jackie get even closer, with the former getting a better understanding of the latter’s need to celebrate her family’s every win. For the same reason, Charlotte understands Jackie’s newsletters as less of a way to brag but rather share her family’s accomplishments with their loved ones.

One such win includes the hot air balloon ride the family plans on taking around the world in order to honor Daniel’s dreams. As a kid, Daniel always loved the story ‘Around the World in Eighty Days,’ and wanted to embark on a similar adventure. However, since he deeply cared about the environment, Jackie promised to make the world’s first solar-powered hot air balloon for him.

The family accomplishes the same this Christmas and plans to debut the invention on Daniel’s father, Valentino’s directorial Christmas Pageant play. Although Jackie runs into some technical errors at the last moment, Charlotte utilizes her passion for engineer and fixes the issue for her. Ultimately, the Jennings are able to pay their tribute to Daniel on Christmas and continue to travel around the world in the eco-friend hot air balloon, raising money for Daniel’s Charity Fund.

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