This is an interesting episode in several ways. First of all, it is a rare Christmas episode. In 9 regular seasons and 4 two hour movies (Pilot, Look Back..,Farewell..,Dear Children..), this is one of only 5 Christmas themed episodes. And coming as it did in Season 8, it was the first of its kind in 5 years.
What also strikes me as odd are some of the character's behaviors and the way they relate to each other. Although this ep centers around an evening of reminiscing, neither James nor Cassandra seem to register any trace of emotion on this, their first Christmas since losing their parents. And although Mary and Adam have come all the way from New York for this holiday (and for their last appearance in the series), not much attention is paid to them after the initial reaction to their arrival. Of the many folks sharing Christmas memories that night, neither of them has a contribution. Even Hester Sue has a story for heaven's sake! Adam is brushed off by Charles in favor of Almanzo's company on a trip to the barn and later falls asleep at the table where the action continues around him! It's very odd.
Also interesting is that Carrie has more lines in this episode (4 or 5) than she has in a long time.....one wonders why.
The stories are, for the most part, charming or sweet, or in Hester Sue's case, bittersweet, but I had trouble concentrating because I spent most of this episode doing math in my head. Trying to decipher the year (settled on 1885), figuring out that if that's the case, then Hester Sue is only 34 (can't be!), and realizing that when Almanzo was 6 in 1863, Santa was still referred to as Saint Nicholas, or Saint Nick. The name change came around about 10 years later. I know it is not unusual by any means for historical fact and dates to be rearranged for dramatic effect on this show, but it bothered me more than usual in this episode. I did think the ending was sweet, though, with Caroline and Charles in the loft, holding each other and looking out at the snow. A lovely moment with which to close the episode.