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.