Little House on the Prairie

Season 8 Episode 11

A Christmas They Never Forgot

Aired Wednesday 12:00 AM Dec 21, 1981 on NBC

Episode Recap

The Ingalls family is excited for Christmas. Their enthusiasm doubles when Charles announces a special surprise outside: it's Hester Sue, who has brought along Adam and Mary in the wagon.

Snow has already begun to fall heavily, and the family gathers around the table for food and fellowship. After Charles and Almanzo play a duet on the guitar and fiddle, the Kendalls and Hester Sue figure they'd probably better get going home. However, a glance out the door shows that they'll never make it home in the current conditions. The men care for the livestock and gather more firewood. Meanwhile, around the Christmas tree, the family members begin to share memories of Christmases gone by.

Almanzo recalls being a little boy and being told by his older brother Royal that there was no Santa Claus. When his dad hears about this, he reassures Almanzo and punishes Royal by not giving him any gifts. Hester Sue asks Carolina about her pendant necklace. Caroline tells a story about losing her father one year, and Christmastime being especially sad. Her mother had remarried, and to top it all off, there was drenching rain instead of snow. Her mother tried to reason with her, but she was too hurt and upset. As a means to show his love, her stepfather gave her a gift of the pendant necklace showing a nativity, which he had in fact received one year as a gift from Caroline's father. Caroline confesses that she ended up loving him as much as her biological father.

Meanwhile, the snow keeps coming down, and Charles and Almanzo hitch a rope from the house to the barn. When they return, covered in snow, Laura begins to laugh. She calls them "twin Santa Clauses" and asks if they remember the year Mr. Edwards came to visit them at Christmas in Plum Creek. Laura remembers how he burst in unexpected and half-frozen, and gave Mary and Laura their own little cups, a penny, and some candy. He gave Ma potatoes to cook, which was a feast. It was a merry little Christmas, and a turning point in Ma's estimation of the dubious character of Mr. Edwards.

Hester Sue remembers being a child and watching her parents serve rich white people. Overhearing a little black boy saying St. Nick only "takes care of his own," she despairs of getting anything for Christmas. However, the white man for whom Hester Sue's father works has a special gift for Hester Sue: a beautiful angel that he picked out just for her.

One by one, the Ingalls family and their guests fall asleep. Carrie is the first to awake in the morning, excited because it is Christmas. Charles doesn't believe that it's really morning because it's so dark out. However, the reason for the darkness is that the snow has piled up past the door lintels and all the way to the second story. Charles uses snow shoes to get to the barn, where the presents are stashed. The family celebrates in a flurry of gift wrap, and Charles and Caroline share a few moments of personal happiness together.

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