Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Christmas They Never Forgot--Reflections on a Favorite Episode

Christmas always inspires me to share my thoughts, and this episode of Little House on the Prairie is a favorite of mine.

While the show ran for nine seasons plus three additional movies, we didn't see episodes surrounding Christmas often--and I don't think the last Christmas episode (Bless All the Dear Children) had any snow in it. Most likely because the show was filmed in California, and based upon my conversation with Kent McCray, it seems to have taken a great deal of effort to create those snowy scenes. (Rolled up sleeves around Christmas in Minnesota?)

That the little house on Plum Creek got blasted with so much snow that all their guests had to spend the night, is just one of the many things that makes this episode so special, as does the wonderful music that Michael Landon decided to use.

This is the last time that we see every member of the Ingalls clan together. By this time Mary and Adam are living in New York, and Hester Sue brings them to Walnut Grove as a surprise. We don't see Mary and Adam again, something that always makes me sad, as I wish they could have returned for the final movie.

The family sits around telling stories of Christmases past. Caroline, Almanzo, Laura and Hester Sue each share a bit of themselves with the entire group. We learn about how Caroline came to accept Papa Holbrook, and the Christmas that Almanzo almost stopped believing in Santa Claus. Laura shares the memory of Mr. Edwards coming for Christmas dinner when the Ingalls family lived in their little cabin in Kansas, and Hester Sue shares a Christmas as a black child from the south living during the Civil War.

Each story is touching and every story speaks volumes of what we have come to love about Little House on the Prairie.

One thing that sticks out to me in this episode is how much a part of the cast Dean Butler and his character Almanzo have become by this point. Now, I know I am slightly biased because I am a huge fan of Dean's, but Charles and Almanzo have many wonderful scenes together in this episode. I especially enjoy when Almanzo and Charles are about to go off to fix the barn door and Almanzo says, "Let's go Pop", to which Charles replies, "Follow me son." A far cry from their relationship at the beginning, where Charles punched the daylights out of Almanzo for possibly kissing his young daughter. Watching Charles's feelings toward Almanzo change is one of the best parts of the series for me. That's why I've written several fan fiction stories that involve these two men--including a new one that I am in the process of editing.

Since so many of you have voted for this episode as your favorite, I would love to read your comments on what is so special about this episode to you.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

December Featured Books of the Month

Back in the early 90's--when I didn't have gray hair--I picked up an eight book set by T.L. Tedrow called The Days of Laura Ingalls Wilder.I did not know at the time that this series was considered controversial. That Roger Lea MacBride, the heir of Rose Wilder Lane, and Laura Ingalls Wilder biographer William Anderson had come out against the books. All I remember from those days is that I was totally captivated by these eight books that provided a fictional life for the famous children's author and her family.

Released in 1992 by Thomas Nelson Publishers, according to this article, Tedrow was also trying to put together a television deal to produce a series based upon the books.

I haven't read these books since I first bought them; and I wonder now that I have taken an interest in the real life of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family, if I would enjoy these books as much as I did when they first came out over 15 years ago.

I am featuring these books in December for a couple of reasons: I would like to know how many people own them or have read them, and what your opinion of them is regardless of whether you've read them or not. Is this pure historical fiction? Is it a rip-off of the original books? After hearing about them would you read them?

Here is the list of books in order:

Missouri Homestead
Children of Promise
Good Neighbors
Home to the Prairie
The World's Fair
Mountain Miracle
The Great Debate
Land of Promise

Wikipedia offers a synopsis of each book in the series and briefly mentions the controversy surrounding the books. Amazon has a few sellers who offer a boxed set of books 1 - 4, and the full set is available on eBay, as are single copies of each book.