Little House on the Prairie

Season 1 Episode 15

Christmas at Plum Creek

Aired Wednesday 12:00 AM Dec 25, 1974 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
271 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Christmas at Plum Creek
With Christmas approaching and the Ingalls facing a very short supply of shopping money, everyone works hard to make the holidays special. While Mary begins working overtime for the town seamstress, Caroline longs silently for an expensive new stove from the mercantile. Charles raises extra money of his own by reconstructing some wagon wheels, but perhaps the biggest shock of the season comes from little Laura, whose personal sacrifice will reaffirm everyone's understanding of genuine family love.moreless

Who was the Episode MVP ?

  • This episode gave me cavities.

    This episode was so sweet I had to see a dentist if I got any cavities.
  • It's their first Christmas at Plum Creek and the Ingalls family are desperate to shop for gifts for each other - if only they had the money!

    Christmas is a financially difficult time for most families, but for Charles and Caroline and their girls, it is even more so as each tries to think of a way to gather enough money to buy presents for each other. Charles is in great need of some new clothes, Caroline desperately wants a lovely stove she sees in the mercantile and Carrie wants to get a special gift for the baby Jesus.

    In order to earn money for the stove, Charles undertakes to repair some wagon wheels for a customer of the mercantile, while Mary helps out the local seamstress and makes something nice for her father. Meanwhile, Laura makes a secret deal with Mr. Olseon about buying the stove for her mother so several people are suffering a case of crossed wires when Caroline makes Charles exactly what Mary does and both Charles and Laura think they have purchased the stove for Caroline.

    It is a real tear-jerker when Charles makes a fine saddle for Laura's pony and we see that, in order to pay for the stove, Laura has made arrangements to sell her beloved pet to Mr. Olseon for Nellie, who wants it badly, in exchange for the stove.

    A beautiful episode, full of all the love, peace and Joy of Christmas.moreless
  • This episode is a perfect example of that good old Ingalls love! A definite must-see!

    Christmas is my favorite time of year and this episode reminds me of the excitement that filled my childhood home as the holidays approached!

    The first ordeal of the episode was to find out just what everyone wanted for Christmas!

    After those discoveries were made, many secrets are kept and deals are struck in order to get each other that perfect Christmas gift. The way Ma deals with the duplicate gift is classic… I’ve always wondered what actually happened to it! The scene where payment is due on the gift Laura arranged for Ma is heart-wrenching, and Ma herself has a hard time accepting the sacrifice that Laura made. And Laura, in classic Ingalls fashion, is more worried about the time and effort Pa put into her gift that is now (for the time) useless than she is about what she gave p for Ma.

  • Spend Christmas at Plum Creek with the Ingalls

    What I really like about the episode "Christmas at Plum Creek" is how it has a sort of "Gift of the Magi" when the episode comes to the end, with how Laura trades her beloved horse Bunny to get Ma a stove for Christmas, and gets a new saddle to use on Bunny from her parents. Granted, Laura didn't know what her present was going to be, I thought that her actions where very selfless, caring more about her mother than her happiness in riding Bunny to make the trade with Mr. Oleson for the stove. What I also liked about the episode also goes along with the Gift of the Magi references, because of how everybody kept what their Christmas present giving plans a screct so that their suprises could go off without a hitch. To me, I found it a little heart-breaking to see Caroline want to stop Laura from giving Bunny to Nellie and the way she was crying after Nels and Nellie left and how she felt bad for Charles for working so hard on her present. It is a classic episode that shows how much love the Ingalls clan has for each other. "Christmas At Plum Creek" is possibly my favorite Christmas episode the show produced in its 10 season run.moreless
  • The first and perhaps finest "Little House" Christmas episode.

    The messages in this episode are very much what the entire series was meant to be about. The love of family, the devotion to hard work and how making sacrifices is a part of life. It's almost impossible to believe that there are people like this today, who would give so much of themselves, their time, their energy and even their own possesions just to give joy to another person for one day.

    Mary works and works with Mrs. Whipple and her efforts are rewarded by being able to make Pa a beautiful new shirt. Pa works so hard out in the barn, not just on Laura's saddle, but also on the wagon wheels so that he'll have money for Ma's stove. Caroline and Laura both spend many hours sewing and knitting, respectively, so that they may give something special to the folks they love. And even little Carrie gets in on the action by spending her only penny on the star for the tree. But what really makes this episode grab your heart and squeeze it is the sacrifice that Laura makes for her Ma, and the "Gift of the Magi" type ending. Laura gives up her beloved Bunny because she knows how much Ma wants, and needs really, a new stove. But Pa has made her a saddle for her horse and she can't seem to stop crying over it. Not that she doesn't have a horse to put it on, but because she knows how hard he worked on it. Wow! This episode cements in our hearts and minds how special these people are, both to us and to each other. I watch it every Christmas and it never fails to move me.

    A Classic.moreless
Melissa Gilbert

Melissa Gilbert

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls/Wilder

Melissa Sue Anderson

Melissa Sue Anderson

Mary Amelia Ingalls/Kendall (1974 - 1981)

Richard Bull

Richard Bull

Nels Oleson

Michael Landon

Michael Landon

Charles Ingalls (1974 - 1982)

Karen Grassle

Karen Grassle

Caroline Quiner Holbrook Ingalls (1974 - 1982)

Lindsay Greenbush

Lindsay Greenbush

Carrie Ingalls (1974 - 1982)

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (6)

    • Nellie says about Bunny, "I'll be good to him" and seconds later, Nels calls the horse, "Bunny old girl." No one involved seems clear about the gender of this horse.

    • Laura says to Mary in this episode: "This is our first Christmas here", meaning in Plum Creek. This surely can not be true, as the Ingalls family moved to Plum Creek in the fall, and after that, Caroline Ingalls went nine months pregnant with Charles Jr. and then he died a few weeks later. These events happened in the previous two episodes entitled "The Lord is My Shepherd. Therefore, they must have been celebrating a Christmas in Plum Creek before this one.

    • Laura asks Caroline if she can have two pieces of cloth. Later, when they are opening their gifts we see that Laura made a scarf for Charles, but it is of a different fabric and color than the cloth scraps.

    • We learn green is Pa's favorite color (from the knitted scarf Laura made him), green was also Michael Landon's favorite color.

    • In this episode, 3-year-old Carrie has two significant one-on-one scenes with Charles; first when she asks Charles what Christmas is, and again when she and Charles are talking about Santa in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve. We don't see Carrie interact this much with her father again until Season 5's The Godsister.

    • While begging her parents to let her work with Mrs. Whipple, Mary is talking so quickly that she accidentally says "And I sewed her how I could show! I mean, I showed her how I could sew." This was an actual goof-up that Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary) made during filming, as she discussed in a later interview, but she and the other actors did a great job at continuing the scene despite it.

  • QUOTES (9)

    • Caroline: (waking Charles up late on Christmas Eve) Charles, what is it?
      Charles: What's what?
      Caroline: In the other room. There's a big box. What is it?
      Charles: Caroline, you're worse than the girls! I'm not gonna tell you what's in that box. You're just gonna have to wait until the morning.
      Caroline: But Charles, I can't sleep.
      Charles: Well, you're gonna have to sleep.

    • Charles: Are these the eggs you're taking in to Oleson's?
      Caroline: Yes.
      Charles: Seems like a lot more than usual.
      Caroline: Don't worry, there are plenty for us. Charles, you just got through saying that Christmas is not the time to ask questions!

    • Caroline: (after Laura swaps her pony to Nellie for a stove for Caroline) Charles, your pony, we can't...
      Charles: Caroline, she had the right.
      Caroline: But she loves Bunny so.
      Charles: I think she loves you more.
      Caroline: Oh, I can't...
      Charles: Caroline, she wants to do this. She loves you. Don't spoil it for her.

    • Mary: What should I get Pa for Christmas?
      Caroline: I don't know what I'm gonna get him myself. But I'm sure he'll like whatever you find to give him.
      Mary: This is our first Christmas here. It has to be special.
      Caroline: Well, one thing's for sure - we don't have money to buy presents. If we want Christmas to be special, we're gonna have to make it that way ourselves.

    • Nels: (about Carrie's penny) My goodness, Carrie! Where did all that money come from?
      Carrie: Me!
      Nels: And you want to buy something with it, no doubt.
      Carrie: Star!
      Nels: Oh, the star! All right. Fine, we'll get it for you.
      Laura: Oh, Carrie, you don't have enough money. That star costs five cents.
      Nels: Well, this tag happens to be wrong. It should read one penny, and one penny is what I'm going to take for it. (smiles and hands the star to Carrie)

    • Carrie: What's Christmas?
      Charles: What's Christmas? Well, that's a very good question. Come on, let's see if I can show you. (carries her to the window) There. You see that star up there? The real big one? Now, a long, long time ago, a star like that appeared in the sky--of course, it was much bigger and much brighter. A lot of people saw that star, but only a few people knew what it meant. Some shepherds, some kings, and three Wise Men followed that star a long, long way, until they came to a manger. And you know what they found? A baby. Baby Jesus. And he was God's son, and God gave Him to the world because He loved us. So Christmas is the baby Jesus' birthday.

    • Laura: I hate that Nellie Oleson!
      Caroline: Laura! Don't say hate--don't even think hate! Now, you may be angry, but try to understand. I'm sure Nellie has some fine qualities in her.
      Charles: Your Ma's right. On the way home, we'll try and think of one.

    • Laura: Is it all right if I ride Bunny into town? Ma said to ask you.
      Charles: Well, let's see. Are you going to ride because you want to or because you just feel like making Nellie jealous?
      Laura: A little of both, I guess.
      Charles: Well, I suppose you're not breaking a commandment. Go on.

    • Charles: (about Mrs. Oleson) Now we know what Charles Dickens had in mind when he wrote about Ebenezer Scrooge.

  • NOTES (3)

    • In this episode, Pa recounts the Christmas story to Carrie and the rest of the family. He goes into great detail, even referring to Jesus as "the Son of God." Considering Michael Landon was Jewish, and the show's director, it strikes one as very unusual that he'd deliberately choose to give such a direct and poignant testimony about Jesus Christ.

    • Filming Locations: Filmed at Big Sky Ranch, Simi Valley, Murphy's Ranch, and Paramount Studios, Hollywood, California.

    • The ending has a similar messege to O. Henry's "Gift of the Magi."


    • The plot from this episode is based heavily on the timeless Christmas story known as The Gift of the Magi, written by O. Henry.