Posted by: KazK | December 13, 2010

The Best Christmas

I’ve just begun watching some of the Waltons Christmas episodes, the first one being The Best Christmas. This one is the episode most remembered and loved by fans from all over the world.

We open with the Walton family just one week before Christmas, and all are preparing to be together for “the best Christmas ever”. However the weather just does not co-operate. Grandma and Grandpa become stranded following a visit to Maude Gormley who is in Charlottesville recovering from a hip injury. Erin is held up at her job on the telephone switchboard, waiting for Fanny Tatum to arrive and relieve her. John Boy, who has popped in to pick up Erin, heads off to find her, thinking there may be a problem with her car. He meets Harley Foster who alerts him that Miss Fanny and her niece have had a car accident. The car has slipped into Drucilla’s Pond, gone through the ice, and Fanny and her niece, Jo Ellen, are stuck in the car and the freezing water. Finally a tree crashes through the roof of the church.

All of these incidents mean that Olivia has her family members scattered until Christmas Day dawns and brings them all back to the Walton home once more. 

The writer of this episode was the great John McGreevey, and I will always remember him when I watch this one.  I love the fact that there is music in the episode too.  I always associate music with Christmas, and so it’s very appropriate to have the men repairing the Church roof singing “Go Tell it on the Mountain” and the whole family singing “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” which is apparently a carol based on a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. You can see the lyrics at: http://www.oldielyrics.com/christmas/i_heard_the_bells_on_christmas_day.html This is a carol I have never heard before.

At the beginning of the episode we have a snowball fight between Elizabeth, Jim Bob and Jason, and the children look like they are having so much fun. I can just imagine a family getting ready for Christmas and anticipating the snow falls. Olivia too, looks forward to the snow coming. I love how she and Grandma are busy baking their cookies for Maude’s present too. It’s a lovely time of the year to be baking special things, and when it’s so cold outside it would be gorgeous inside with the lovely baking smells.

It does always amaze me that we see the girls in quite flimsy dresses when they are inside in winter. Erin seems to be wearing a cotton frock whilst she’s working at the telephone exchange, and she needs to rug up in her overcoat, hat and gloves before heading out with John Boy. Elizabeth too, at one stage is sitting up with a short sleeved frock on in the house. Now I don’t live in an extremely cold and snowy place, but I would have thought that during the 1930s and 1940s, it would have been very cold inside the houses during winter with only an open fire to keep them warm.

Grandma and Grandpa are wonderful in this episode. I just adore that Grandpa says, when he realises that they are stranded in Charlottesville for the night with no room at any hotel, that they should go and bunk down in the lobby of the very best hotel in Charlottesville. Great thinking I say!

In the book Goodnight John-Boy (Earl Hamner & Ralph Giffin), one fan mentions that the reason this episode seems so special is because it is one of the last when all the family are together. I agree. Richard Thomas (John Boy) left the series at the end of this season, and shortly after Grandma (Ellen Corby) suffered a stroke which forced her out of the show for some time whilst she recovered. In many ways we, the viewers, get to enjoy the Best Christmas that Olivia wanted to experience…a Christmas with all members of the family we love around us.

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