Homecoming: A Christmas Story, The (1971) Movie Script

Tonight, CBS proudly presents
The Homecoming:
A Christmas Story
by Earl Hamner, Jr.,
a warm and inspiring
all-family movie
made especially for television.
Starring Patricia Neal.
The story of a family
and a Christmas Eve
that changed their lives
My grandfather used to say
that nobody owns a mountain,
but getting born and living
and dying in its shadow,
we loved Walton's Mountain
and felt it was ours.
The Walton family had endured
in that part of the Blue Ridge
for over 200 years,
a short time in the memory
of a mountain.
Still, our roots had grown deep
in its earth.
When I was growing up there
with my brothers and sisters,
I was certain that no one on
earth had quite so good a life.
I was 15, and growing
at an alarming rate,
each morning I woke,
convinced I'd added
another inch
to my height while I slept.
I was trying hard
to fill my father's shoes
that winter.
We were in the middle
of the Depression,
and the mill on which our
village depended had closed.
My father had found work
in a town 50 miles away,
and he could only be with us
on weekends.
On Christmas Eve,
early in the afternoon,
we had already started
looking forward
to his homecoming.
Go on, girl!
I'll tell you, I don't know
what's the matter with you.
You think it's springtime
or something?
That's the last time
you're going
to get out of there
and run up in the hill.
You some kind of rabbit?
Now move.
Get up.
Get up, girl.
I'm going to give you
some of the best hay
you ever cracked
your shins on.
Open the door.
( harmonica playing
"Happy Days Are Here Again" )
Why don't you play
something Christmasy, Jason?
It's not Christmas yet.
Well, it's Christmas Eve.
When will it really be
Christmas, John-Boy?
Tonight at midnight
when Grandpa rings
the church bell.
Grandpa says
at midnight on
Christmas Eve,
cows get down
on their knees
and pray.
You believe that,
Wouldn't that be a wonder?
I'm going
to find out.
Going to come
up here tonight
and keep watch.
I'm coming with you,
Mary Ellen.
Me, too.
Me, three.
Well, now, you better
ask your mama
before you go prowling around
the place at midnight.
How'd you like
to bump into Santa Claus?
I already asked Mama,
and she said she'd
think about it.
Well, I want you
all to listen
to me a minute.
Try not to worry
Mama today.
Something wrong, John-Boy?
Well, she's got a lot
on her mind.
Like what?
Well, Daddy promised
he'd be home early today,
and he's not here yet.
Daddy'll get here.
You know he'll get here.
Oh, sure he will,
but first
he's got to pick up
his paycheck,
get it cashed and
take a bus to
and take another bus
to Hickory Creek.
And from there he's got
to hitchhike six miles.
It's going to take a while.
Meanwhile, let's
get this wood
in the house
so we'll have a nice warm fire
when he gets here.
Yeah, I got it.
...Heard the bells
on Christmas Day
Their old familiar
carols play
And wild and sweet
the words repeat
Peace on Earth,
good will to men
( humming )
Peace on Earth,
good will to men.
Now, you all come and eat
before your soup gets cold.
I'm hungry
enough to
eat a horse.
Yeah. This Depression gets
any worse, you may have to.
It'll never
come to that.
Franklin D.
to put this
country on its
feet again.
You watch
my words.
( dramatically ):
Ah, friends,
and you are my friends...
Now, you hush
with that
He's your president.
Get the cow in
the barn, son?
Yes, sir.
Storm's going
to hit here
anytime now.
How do you know that, Grandpa?
Well, I can feel it
in my bones.
You pulling my leg, Grandpa?
No, ma'am.
My bones feel one way
for good weather,
and another way for bad.
How do you
explain that?
Well, it's-it's a science,
Mary Ellen,
like anything else.
What you asking Santa Claus
to bring you, Grandma?
Well, I-I think
I'd like a little canary bird.
I could catch you a wild one
next spring, Grandma.
I don't want anybody
catching any wild things.
Now, you eat your soup.
I heard the bells
on Christmas Day
You want some more?
No, thank you.
Their old familiar
carols play
Mama's got the Christmas spirit.
What's she doing
down in the basement?
And wild and sweet
the words repeat
Went after apples.
Peace on Earth,
good will to men
Decided to make
her applesauce
cake after all.
Well, she told me
she didn't have enough sugar.
She claims she's going
to buy sugar.
It's her money.
Well, it wouldn't be Christmas
without Livy's applesauce cake.
There's too much nutmeg
in it for my taste.
Who wants
to see something pretty?
I do!
My Christmas cactus.
I'd practically forgotten
about it.
Just stuck it downstairs
in the basement last fall.
And, uh, would you look?
How can a plant
know it's Christmas?
Maybe it feels
in its bones like Grandpa.
( laughter )
I rooted this plant
from one my mama used to have.
It's 17 years old.
Oh, I vow, Livia.
Has it been
that long?
Oh, I planted it the same year
John and I were married.
I recollect.
Before the
World War.
Why did you marry Daddy, Mama?
Oh. Same reason
anybody gets married, baby.
( giggling )
How did you know
you loved him?
Oh, I just knew.
Oh, he was a
handsome thing
in those days.
Wasn't he, Grandma?
All my boys
were handsome.
They took after their daddy.
( laughter )
Listen to the old man.
My family didn't approve
of me marrying your daddy.
Did you all
know that?
What did they
have against
Well, my family were
big Baptists,
and your daddy, in those days,
wasn't exactly religious.
He was religious.
He just wasn't
a churchgoer.
when my family said
we couldn't get married,
your daddy and I sneaked off
one night
and went to see the
Baptist preacher.
John said,
"We're here
to be married."
And Preacher
Hicks said,
"Does your mama
know about this?"
And I said,
"No, sir."
And he said,
"Well, then I
can't marry you."
Oh, I was scared to death.
Ready to run
right straight home.
But your daddy
spoke up and said,
"Mr. Hicks,
"you are not the only
preacher in the world--
we'll get us another preacher."
( laughter )
Mr. Hicks turned
red as a beat.
And then he said,
"Under the circumstances, then,
I will marry you."
And so he did.
( laughter )
What does Daddy have
against going to church?
Oh, he never
had the time.
Mama, this morning
there was a red bird
in your crabapple tree.
Oh, I'd love to
have seen it.
That red bird's going
to freeze tonight.
He won't freeze.
The redbird has a knack
of surviving winter.
Otherwise, he would have
headed south
with the gold finches
and bluebird
when the leaves started
to turn.
I wish my daddy
could fly.
( laughter )
if he could fly,
then he wouldn't have
to wait for the bus.
If Daddy goes flying
around in the air,
somebody's liable
to think he's a
turkey buzzard
and shoot him down.
( laughter )
Don't you worry
about your daddy.
He'll be home.
Who's going to crack
some walnuts
for my applesauce cake?
I'll do it!
Well, while y'all
are doing that,
I'll run to the store
for some sugar.
Well, I'll be glad to fetch it
for you, daughter.
Oh, no thank you,
I could use some fresh air,
and maybe I'll meet John
on the way.
Oh, what we need at this door
is a traffic light.
Now, daughter, you sure
you won't need help
to carry the sugar
and all the stuff
for Christmas dinner?
if John doesn't get home soon
with some money,
all we're going to have
for Christmas dinner is
my applesauce cake,
and we won't even have that
if I don't get a move on.
( harmonica playing )
Now, don't get
any shells
in there.
You'll bite
into that
applesauce cake
and break a tooth.
I wrote a letter
to Santa Claus.
Told him everything
I want the team to bring.
It won't do you a speck of good.
How come?
How are you going
to get it to him?
He's clean up yonder
at the North Pole.
No letter's going to get
to the North Pole by tonight.
What'll I do,
Well, you just give it
to me, honey.
I'll take it down
to the post office
and mail it special delivery.
I'm much obliged
to you, John-Boy.
What did you ask Santa Claus
to bring you,
One whole page
of the Sears
Roebuck Catalogue.
A whole page
of dolls.
Ben, I know
what you want.
A train set.
That's what
I thought.
What do you want, Jim-Bob?
A teddy bear.
Daddy said he'd speak
to Santa Claus about it.
I've been thinking
about writing to him myself.
Well, what are you
asking for, Jason?
( laughs )
( groans )
Now, what is that for?
Everybody is so
ignorant around here.
What makes you
say that?
Believing in Santa Claus.
There's no such thing.
It's just something
Mama and Daddy made up.
I don't believe you.
That's because
you're ignorant.
Son, you're going to
be sorry you did that.
Well, now, you just want
to make something of it?
Stand up and fight like a man,
liver-bellied bully!
I'm going to tell
Mommy you said a bad
word, Mary Ellen.
I hope she washes your
mouth out with soap.
Little old mealymouthed thing.
I hope you get a bad cold
and sneeze your eyeballs loose.
Now, you want another swat,
Mary Ellen?
I'm not going to have anything
to do with any of you.
What's the
matter with
Mary Ellen?
Well, she's just crazy.
Everybody goes crazy
when they're 13.
The world is a big round ball.
8,000 miles
smack through the middle.
Walton's Mountain is just
a tiny speck on it!
Did you go crazy
when you were 13, John-Boy?
I didn't have time to.
I was too busy
looking after you children.
You ought to be
the youngest, like me.
Yeah, well, honey,
I got stuck
with being the oldest.
Nobody cares how I feel!
You know how
I feel right this minute?
Like if I breathed in
a whole lot of air,
I'd just bust
like a balloon, ker-pow!
is the Depression
going to last forever?
Well, Mr. Hoover
says that prosperity
is just around the corner.
Did God make
the Depression?
Why, no.
It, uh, happened
in New York City.
Something they call
Wall Street... crashed,
and they had to close the banks,
and all of a sudden
there wasn't any more money.
I don't rightly
understand it myself.
When I grow up,
I'm going to marry a man
rich enough to buy me diamonds
and if a Depression comes along,
we'll just move away from it.
When I grow up,
I'm gonna marry a rich man
and have lots of babies.
I'm not gonna have any babies.
What are you
gonna have, Elizabeth?
( laughter )
Stop laughing at me!
Stop laughing at me!
What's so funny?
Well, why don't you
just get on over here
and do some work
and you won't have to ask.
I've got no time to be
out here cracking walnuts.
I haven't learned my Bible page
for the day-- I'm
going to memorize
the whole thing,
cover to cover.
Feeling better?
I always feel better
after I hug a cow.
You trying win
a prize or something?
They don't
know nothing.
Think they're so smart.
I can have puppies
if I want to.
It don't work like that.
You sure?
Look, when you grow up,
you're going to be a woman,
and a woman has babies.
Want to know a secret?
I don't care.
I'm gonna stay little,
not grow up!
Whenever I
start growing,
I'm going to squeeze myself
and push it back in.
Like Daddy and that
old yellow duck?
When are you
going to start?
Start what?
Whenever I feel
like I'm growing.
You're growing?
Think so.
Did you catch it?
Jim-Bob! Elizabeth!
Y'all come on
to the house!
Let's see if Daddy's
come home.
Don't tell them a
thing about it.
Won't do them
any good if we did.
They're already grown.
Merry Christmas, Claudie.
How are all your
boys and girls, Mrs. Walton?
Why, they're just fine.
When y'all coming
over to see us?
Maybe we'll come
over tomorrow
and see what Santa Claus
brings to them.
You're welcome to come,
but Santa Claus
isn't bringing much.
Have your boys
and girls been bad?
No, but Santa Claus
is poor this year.
Just like everybody else.
Well, merry Christmas,
Mrs. Walton.
You, too, Hawthorne.
I never saw anything
the way that child has grown.
Oh, I don't know what
they're growing on.
Preaching's a hard
line of work,
even in the best
of times.
Daddy's got
an extra job now.
How in the world
do you find extra work
around here?
Well, to tell
you the truth,
Mrs. Walton,
I'm working for
the Baldwin ladies.
I'm surprised
at you, Hawthorne.
Oh, now, now, now, now,
now, Mrs. Walton.
You know, a man
has got to eat.
Everybody knows
those two old ladies
make bootleg whiskey.
Well, now, they
don't call it that.
They call it
"Papa's Recipe."
I don't care
what they call it,
it's still
bootleg whiskey.
Ah, no, I can't
see a man
starving himself
to death, Mrs. Walton.
Claudie, you come around,
we'll be waiting for you.
Okay, Mrs. Walton.
Yeah, put some of that
stuff in the back
for the ladies, now, son.
Yes, we'll take that,
and three yards of muslin
and six yards
of that Atlanta silk.
Yes, ma'am.
Be with you in a minute,
I do believe you're
John Walton's wife.
Yes, ma'am.
Isn't that a stroke,
of luck, sister?
John Walton's just
the man we need to see.
Well, John's not home yet.
We are expecting him
any minute.
We're in such a fix,
only John Walton
can save us.
Do you think this
is pretty, sister?
Yes, I do.
Well... I don't know.
I really don't know.
What-what's the trouble,
Miss Emily?
Well, you know,
after the judge died--
you remember,
our papa--
we got so many calls
for his recipe,
that we had to start
making it again.
His recipe was famous
from one end of the
state to the other.
'Course it was tried and
true-- been in the family
for generations.
The judge didn't
leave us as much money
( whispers ):
as most people suspect.
But he did leave us
the recipe.
It provides for us
in our old age.
I couldn't exist
if I had to live
on charity.
So we make the recipe.
Or did, till
the catastrophe.
W-What catastrophe
is that, Miss Emily?
Our machine has
broken down.
We think that
the trouble
is with a copper coil.
You see...
No, sister, it's
in the burner.
You see, we have to
keep the ingredients
at a regular temperature
while they're cooking.
Emily, the trouble's
in the coil.
There's something
stuck in there
that won't let
the recipe through.
At any rate,
Mrs. Walton,
we're terribly low
on the recipe.
We'd be mortified
if someone came
asking for it
and we couldn't
supply it.
Well, wha-what
did you want John for?
My John.
Sister, why did we
want John Walton?
We thought
that he might,
you know, examine the machine
and repair it for us.
We're prepared to pay whatever
the job might call for.
Oh, I'll tell John
when he comes home.
It's been a real treat
to see you, Mrs. Walton.
Thank you.
How are all those
dear children?
Fine. Just fine.
John Walton says they're
regular thoroughbreds.
Yes, ma'am.
I hope Santa Claus
is good to everybody
at your house.
Thank you.
Merry Christmas,
Mr. Godsey.
Merry Christmas.
Merry Christmas to you.
Merry Christmas,
Miss Emily.
Merry Christmas.
Merry Christmas,
to you.
Come on.
Come on down here.
Here's this bag.
Thank you.
Ground's slippery,
so be careful now.
Watch it.
Claudie! Claudie,
open the door, boy!
( car driving off )
Where's John, Olivia?
I've been expecting him by
to do his
Christmas shopping.
Well, John's
not home yet, Ike.
Oh, he'll be along.
John Walton would no more
stay away from home
on a Christmas Eve
than fly to the moon.
Hey, I know he'll
get here if he can.
It's just that, 50 miles
on slippery roads
and then that
long walk home
from the bus...
Lot of ground
to cover.
I didn't mean to tell
you my troubles, Ike.
I've come for some sugar.
How much do you need?
Oh, uh, I figure
I can get by on
about two pounds.
Two pounds.
What else can I get
for you, Olivia?
Well, I believe
that'll do.
You have noticed,
uh, I put in
a line of toys this year.
That's a mighty
sweet little doll.
And your youngest,
she just can't take
her eyes off it.
She can't come in here
without picking it up,
holding it, babying it.
It's hard to explain the
Depression to children.
Did you notice
the price tag reads 89 cents?
And worth every cent,
if a person is in
the market for a doll.
I can let you have it
for what it cost me.
I won't make
a penny on it,
but we can do it
for Elizabeth.
65 cents.
Thank you just
the same, Ike.
If it's a problem of cash
right at the moment,
I can let you have
a little credit.
Don't put temptation
in my way, Ike.
You know, John and I
never bought anything
on credit in our lives.
( register rings )
Just thought I would
make the offer.
And I appreciate it.
Merry Christmas
to you, Ike.
And you and John,
Merry Christmas,
Sheriff Bridges?
Yes, ma'am?
You didn't happen to pass,
uh, John Walton
walking somewhere
between here
and Hickory Creek,
did you?
No, ma'am.
If I had, I'd have
sure given him a ride.
Well, how are the roads
over that way?
People getting through?
Well, as far
as I can tell,
Mrs. Walton.
merry Christmas.
Yes, ma'am. Merry
Christmas to you.
( bell rings )
Well, what do
you say, Ike?
Hey, Sheriff.
Something I can
do for you?
Well, you can give
me about a nickel's
worth of crackers and...
about a dime's worth
of this bologna.
What you doing
out this way?
You looking for somebody?
Maybe. Maybe.
You wouldn't put
a man in jail
on Christmas Eve,
now, would you?
I would if
I could catch him.
You would.
Is that a dime's worth?
To the ounce.
Who is this man
you're looking for?
Mm, look here.
Look here.
"Robin Hood Bandit
Strikes Again."
( chuckles ):
Ain't he something?
"Many citizens
of the outlying counties
"are enjoying
Christmas this year
"due to the efforts
"of the man they call
'the Robin Hood Bandit.'
"Each year, since 1929,
needy people have found
gifts of food and supplies
at their back door."
"Usually the appearance
of such gifts
"have coincided with
the disappearance
of such items
from the shelves
of local markets."
"This year, it is the
J&B Produce Company
whose supply room
was emptied of its
turkeys and hams."
Seems a shame to arrest
a man like that.
He's just making a
laughingstock of me
in front of the
whole county, is
what he's doing.
I'm tired of it.
I got me a mind
to arrest him
before the day is out.
And what are you doing looking
out this way, Sheriff?
I got some clues,
I got some clues.
Like what?
Look here, Ike.
You mind your business,
and I'll mind mine.
Strikes me funny that
he never robbed you.
Maybe you know
who he is.
( laughs )
She'll be driving six
white turkeys when she comes
She'll be driving six
white turkeys when she comes
She'll be driving
six white turkeys
She'll be driving
six white turkeys
She'll be driving six
white turkeys when she comes.
( radio playing "Deck the Hall"
through static )
Why don't you try to get
that station in Pittsburgh?
That is the station
from Pittsburgh.
Well, I don't think you know
how to work that radio.
Don't tell me I don't know
how to work a radio.
You're just going
to bust it again.
Let me try.
( radio changing stations )
There you go,
the Charlottesville station.
In New York, Mr. Lindbergh
was welcomed on the steps
of City Hall by Grover Whelan.
Lucky Lindy, a former
aerial mailman himself,
has been in Europe
surveying the possibility
of airmail service between
the Old and the New World.
He suggests that airmail service
between Europe and America
is practical, and predicts
that in the distant future
freight, and even passengers,
might cross the Atlantic
by airplane.
Cross the ocean?
Why, I wouldn't even fly
from here to Rockfish
in one of them things.
...two of America's
most beloved personalities,
Babe Ruth and Will Rogers.
As they toured the wards,
Rogers joked with the children
and performed some of
the rope tricks he made famous
on the stage
of the Ziegfeld Follies.
The great Bambino gave each
of the children a baseball
by the entire Yankee team.
See anything of John, Livy?
On the local scene,
snow continues
to hinder attempts
to rescue two men
trapped when a bus overturned
on Route 29.
The bus, filled with passengers
homeward bound for the holidays,
went off the road
near Coseville.
All passengers, except
for the two trapped men,
have been removed.
No deaths have been reported,
although many injured
have been received
in the University Hospital
in Charlottesville.
Over in Waynesboro,
James Tucker announced
that his store was about...
( clicks off radio )
I wish it were spring
of the year again.
Forsythia blooming
by the fence and...
and the crocus
coming up through the snow.
Daughter, we don't know
he was on that bus.
I'd just as soon the children
not know about that accident.
If it's bad news,
we'll tell it when it comes.
A telephone is what we need.
It's the first thing
I'm going to get
when this Depression is over.
Has anybody seen John-Boy?
I heard him go up
to his room.
He closed the door
and locked it again.
What does that boy do up there?
Yes, ma'am?
What you doing up there, boy?
Nothing, Mama.
Then what's the door locked for?
Well, I reckon
it just got locked.
A door don't get locked
all by itself.
You come on down.
Grandpa, John usually
likes to get the trees,
but I think maybe you
and John-Boy better
get us one this year.
I know where there's
a real pretty one, Livy.
Mama, can I go with
Grandpa and John-Boy?
Cutting down trees
is men's work.
A girl's place
is in the kitchen.
But I want to go.
I need you to help me
make my applesauce cake.
Oh, let Erin help you.
She's such a prissy-butt.
I am not a prissy-butt!
Would you girls
stop arguing and get busy.
What were you doing up there
behind locked doors?
I don't see why you
have to lock the door
to do homework.
Some-sometimes I like
a little privacy, Mama.
Come on, son,
let's go and get
that Christmas tree.
Grandpa, you ever been away
from Walton's Mountain?
Not if I could help it.
Spent my adored life
right here.
How did we come to get
Walton's Mountain?
Well, it's all there
in the family bible.
See, my granddaddy-- he'd be
your great-great granddaddy--
he come here in 1789
with nothing but an ax,
a plow, a mule and a rifle.
Well, I know where
his old cabin stood.
My daddy showed me
the foundations one time.
Yeah, yeah-- you got
pioneer stock in you.
You can take pride in that.
This is fought-for land.
Battles right here?
Mm, more than one.
Flood, fire,
freezing weather, diphtheria,
scarlet fever, whooping cough,
loneliness, hard times.
No, I thought
you meant wars.
Them, too.
Hey, Grandpa, we got
something to show
we own Walton's Mountain?
You can't own a mountain
any more than you can own
the ocean or piece of the sky.
You hold it in trust,
and you...
you live on it,
you take life from it,
and once you're dead,
you rest in it.
Yeah, I just as soon not
think about that part of it.
Oh, you're not ready
for it yet.
Are you?
There's your tree, boy.
All righty.
She's a dandy, Grandpa.
It's one I've watched grow
for all the time of its life.
You sure know
how to pick 'em!
( chopping )
That's the last string.
Can we put
the decorations on now?
Well, you can get them ready.
( all arguing )
Just take it easy,
you're going to break them.
Stop hogging.
Here's a red one.
I wanted to hang that one.
Look at this silver one.
You can see
your face in it.
I got a homemade one.
I wanted to hang one
that was bought in the store.
Look what I found.
( shatters )
Now look
what you've done.
You made me!
You hit my arm!
I did not!
All right, everybody!
Now, just calm down!
Just hold it!
You watch your temper.
Well, they're all
grabbing at once.
You're the oldest.
You make them mind.
Well, I'm tired of
being the oldest.
I feel like an old mother duck.
Can't do a thing
about that now--
you're stuck with it.
All right, next...
next one of you that moves
is going to get a spanking.
We'll be good, John-Boy.
All right, just...
you just let me get these on,
and then you can take over.
All right...
now remember,
keep your fingers crossed,
'cause if one bulb has gone bad,
then none of them's
going to work.
Do you want some help,
You can plug it in now, Jason.
Okay, go to town!
( cheers )
I remember this one.
We bought it
in Charlottesville
that year Erin
got lost over there.
I wasn't lost--
we walked up
both sides of Main
Street two times,
we couldn't find you.
You probably just
walked right past me
and didn't see me.
All I was doing was
looking through the
pretty store windows.
Then how come you cried
when we found you?
I did not...
What's that?
It's a blue jay's nest.
Still got an egg in it.
You can't put that
thing on the tree.
It's full of mites.
That old rotten egg
will smell bad.
The egg is not rotten.
I blew all
the stuff out of it.
Inside, it's clean
as a whistle.
Look at that.
It still got bird poop on it.
Who wants a nasty
thing like that
on a Christmas tree?
I do, and it's not nasty.
You're such a crazy.
Oh, turn blue, Erin.
John-Boy, look
what she's done!
You know, Santa Claus is going
to take one look
at that bird poop
and he's going to head
right back up the chimney.
And I won't get my doll.
What's the matter
with you, crybaby?
Santa Clause won't come
because of you.
( crying )
You ought to be ashamed
of yourself, Mary Ellen.
Oh, you're all
a bunch a pissants.
Mama, Mama, Mama!
Mama, Mama!
What's the matter now?
Mary Ellen made Elizabeth cry.
She ruined
the whole Christmas tree
with a smelly old bird's nest,
and now she's calling us names.
What have you got to say
for yourself, Mary Ellen?
My bird's nest
is the pretties thing
on the whole tree.
What about this name calling?
She said we were pissants.
Well, you know better
than that, don't you,
I don't feel like a pissant.
There, you see?
Aw, this bird's nest
looks nice there.
Oh, it looks real natural.
( door opens )
He's home!
It's Charlie Snead.
Great day in the morning.
Come on in, Charlie.
I usually get
a big welcome around here.
Well, we're pleased
to see you, Charlie,
it's just that, well,
we thought maybe you were John.
Oh, ain't that rascal home yet?
We're mighty
worried, Charlie.
Well, I don't blame you.
Uh, Charlie,
would you like a cup of coffee
or something?
No, I can't stay
but a minute, Olivia.
But I did know that John
wouldn't have a chance
to do much hunting
this Christmas,
so I thought he'd... appreciate
a little meat on the table.
Oh, Charlie...
I-I don't know how to thank you.
You don't have to say
nothing to me, Olivia.
Oh... this is the answer
to my prayer.
Fine bird, all right.
Where'd he come from?
oh, I shot him
up on Wale's Mountain.
Don't appear to be
no wild turkey to me.
Never saw a wild turkey
this clean.
What kind of shot you use?
Got him clean through the head
with a single bullet.
A sitting-still bird?
You shot a sitting-still bird?
At 36 paces, Mrs. Walton.
Clean off the limb of
a dead chestnut tree.
I declare.
I think
I'll cook him tonight.
Sure looks like
a store-bought turkey to me.
Oh, won't John be surprised
when he walks in that door
and finds a Christmas turkey
in the oven?
Well, look here, I, uh...
I got some more stops
to make before the night's over,
so I'll just, uh, wish y'all
a merry Christmas.
Oh, Charlie,
stay and have some
of my applesauce cake.
We'll slice one
warm from the oven.
I can't, Olivia,
but I'm much obliged
to you.
Why don't I, you know,
stop in tomorrow
and spend a little bit
of time with John?
You do that, now.
Night, everybody.
Bye, bye.
Night, Charlie.
Hey, Mama,
where you reckon
Charlie got that bird?
Getting late, John-Boy.
Milk the cow.
I think milking a cow
is about the most disgusting
thing anybody ever did.
You know any other way
to get the milk out?
Jay said it would be
a lot easier
if you could just
screw off her tail
and dip it out
with a gourd.
( chuckles )
Did you ever have a date?
Oh, sure.
I mean, a real date.
Well, yeah, I've had real dates.
Remember that time
after prayer meeting
when you walked home
with Gwen Foster?
What'd you do?
( cow bellows )
We just walked.
What else?
Nothing else.
Did you kiss her?
I tried to.
Why didn't you?
( sighs )
Her daddy come out
on the porch.
Have you kissed many girls?
Well, yeah, I've kissed a few.
On the lips?
Why, sure.
What was it like?
( cow bellows )
It was right nice.
I don't think I've got
long to live.
Oh, Mary Ellen, will you quit?
Well, I just feel
like any minute now
I'm just going to...
just explode!
By the time I'm 14,
they'll wrap me in bed sheets
and hide me
in the attic.
You better calm yourself
down, girl.
( sighs ):
I am calm!
I will be calm!
I am a calm person!
You got the growing pains.
When do they stop?
One morning you're
going to wake up,
and they'll all be gone.
One day I expect you'll be
a right pretty girl.
What good's a pretty face
with a figure like this?
Mm, they'll grow.
Your bosoms.
( cow bellows )
You know,
one day you might
even grow up to be
as pretty as your mama.
Hey, I'll race you home.
I spill this milk,
Mama will kill me.
Okay, then I'll
race myself home.
...giving me that pitch
about Kenny and Raddy and Buddy.
Hi, mister. Hi, Mrs. McGee.
Hi. I'm very busy
right now, Teeny.
Hello, Teeny. You having fun?
Sure. Me and Kenny and Buddy
and Raddy and Johnny
have been practicing
our Christmas carols.
Mama, do you think
I'm pretty?
I think you're
Thanks, Mama.
You're welcome, Mary Ellen.
Where is everybody?
They're in there
listening to the radio.
Well, okay, then.
So long, Mrs. McGee.
Hey, kids...
Darn kids.
Breaking my back
shoveling snow.
Why don't you let the children
sing for you
and get it over with, McGee?
You ought to sit down
and rest a while anyhow.
You know why I don't let 'em
sing for me, Molly.
Churning in the
living room?
Well, I just want to listen
to Fibber and Molly
like everybody else.
I get all mushy,
and start forgiving everybody
for everything they ever
done to me. Uh-oh.
What is it, McGee--
did you find the key ring?
I don't know--
there's something here,
all right,
close to the sidewalk.
( Fibber yells )
What was it?
The toe of my overshoe!
( knocking )
Hey, Mrs. Walton.
My goodness, Claudie.
Where are all your
boys and girls?
They're in the living room.
What brings you out
on such a cold, cold night?
I got a surprise for
your boys and girls.
Well, come in
and tell 'em about it.
The big window knocked over
the floor lamp...
Look who's here.
Hey, everybody.
Hey, Claudie.
Mom said she saw you.
Merry Christmas.
Claudie says he's
got a surprise.
Turn that off.
They got a missionary
box down at the store.
Some woman showed
up with presents.
Says she's going to start
handing out presents
just as soon as
they get a crowd.
Hey, let's go.
Hey, yeah!
Wait a minute.
We do not accept charity
in this house.
You took that turkey
from Charlie Snead.
That's enough out of you,
Why don't you let 'em go?
I can't see anything wrong
with 'em getting a toy,
an apple, or a candy bar.
Mama, can't we go down
there and just watch?
What fun would that be?
It would be something
to do.
Can't we go as long
as we don't take anything?
Mama, we'll just watch
and see what the others get.
Let 'em go, Livy.
Oh, maybe it wouldn't do
any harm
just to go and watch.
( cheering )
Now, don't you all stay down
there too long.
We won't, Mama.
We won't, Mama.
And, and... hold...
and-and hold...
somebody hold Elizabeth's hand.
I will, Mama.
Uh-uh-uh, Ben,
button up your coat.
Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas,
How lovely of you to come.
I thought I'd never make it.
I've never seen it
so slippery out.
Oh, come in, children.
Join us.
I know it's cold,
and you want your presents--
but first, I want you to know
why I am here.
Who knows what a missionary is?
Somebody who spreads the
gospel to the infidels.
And I am a missionary.
This year,
I said to the ladies
in our society,
"Why look to some foreign
country for heathens
"when the Blue Ridge Mountains
are filled with 'em?"
So we didn't send off
our gifts
to some unappreciative savages,
but to you,
whose need is just as great.
Now, that is why I am here,
and we shall begin with a song.
Who knows a good song?
"Away in the Manger."
How would you like to start?
Away in the manger
No crib for his bed
The little Lord Jesus
lay down his sweet head
The stars in the sky
looked down where he lay
The little Lord Jesus
asleep in the hay
Oh, again, again!
Louder! Wonderful!
Third verse.
The cattle are lowing,
the baby awakes
But little Lord Jesus
No crying he makes
I love thee, Lord Jesus
Look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle
till morning is nigh.
That... that was lovely,
Now, as everybody knows,
Christmas is Jesus' birthday,
and since the Bible
is Jesus' book,
I want everybody
who comes up here for a present
to have a Bible quote
to tell me.
"To be or not to be"?
( whispering ):
That's not the Bible--
that's Shakespeare.
Anybody here know one?
"What is man that thou
art mindful of him?"
Thanks, Mary Ellen.
"What is man that thou
art mindful of him?"
"What is man
that thou art mindful
of him?"
That is a good quote
and a good question.
Do you know
what it means?
Does anyone?
It means he's so big,
and we're such puny
little old things,
why does he mess
around with us.
Indeed! Yes!
Come along--
someone else!
"Make a joyful noise unto
the Lord, all ye lambs."
"Make a joyful noise
unto the Lord, all ye lambs."
Oh... what a pleasure
you must be
to your Sunday school teacher.
Got another one?
"What is man profited
if he shall gain the whole world
and lose his own soul?"
Too hard to remember.
"Jesus wept."
"Jesus wept."
Lord love you, child.
( rattling )
Got another one?
"Thy two breasts
are like two young roes
that are twins which feed
among the lilies."
"Solomon's Song,"
chapter four,
verse five.
"Thy two breasts are like
two young roes that are twins
which feed among the lilies."
"Solomon's Song,"
chapter four,
verse five.
Thank you.
I have one for a little girl.
How about you, dear?
"Cast not your pearls
before swine."
"Cast not your pearls
before wine."
( laughs ):
Come on.
It's perfect for you.
It's perfect for you.
What's Daddy
going to say?
We won't tell him.
He'll find out!
Well, we'll just make
Elizabeth hide it.
What'd you get, honey?
I think it's a doll.
It's dead! Somebody killed it!
Oh, sweetie.
It's okay.
Now, maybe we can fix it.
Not in a million years.
Want to go home?
Come on.
It's 10:00,
and Daddy's still not home.
Mama's real worried,
and the rest of us are, too.
On top of everything else,
we went down to the store,
and a lady was giving away
Elizabeth got a broken doll,
and it scared her.
Nobody ever gave away anything
worth keeping,
I... I guess.
I been thinking about myself
and wondering
what's wrong with me.
I just can't seem
to stop growing.
Mama says it's natural,
but I'm scared
if I keep getting taller
I'll be a freak or something.
I wish I could see a doctor
about it.
...the city are deserted
at this hour
as Christians begin
the observance
of this holiest of holidays
in their churches and homes.
Church attendance
is lower in the valley
than had been expected.
I thought John-Boy
was in here.
He went upstairs.
The storm arrived...
Livia, I, uh, I think
he's keeping some kind
of secrets up there.
Lord knows,
he worries me to death.
Every time I want
to see him,
he's up there
with the door locked.
Hush a minute.
Stranded travelers
are being given food and lodging
by local churches
and the Red Cross.
One death has been reported from
the bus accident near Coseville.
The names of the injured
are being withheld
until next of kin are notified.
The Merchant's Christmas Parade
was interrupted briefly
due to a fire
at the Hamilton Cooke
Hardware Company.
The blaze was brought
under control quickly,
and the parade continued
to the corner of 2nd and Main.
There's not a thing we
can do but sit and wait.
Can't sit and wait
one more minute.
President Roosevelt
and his family have gathered
for the traditional
Christmas Eve dinner.
Later this evening
the president...
( door rattling )
Just a second, Mama.
Unlock this door.
Are you smoking
cigarettes up here?
No, ma'am.
Then what are you doing?
Nothing, Mama.
Then what's the door
locked for?
Mama, well,
I just locked it
without thinking.
Are you hiding something
in that bed, John-Boy?
Yes, ma'am.
I'd like to know
what you're hiding.
A tablet.
Why in the world would
anybody want to hide a tablet?
Mama, you know,
I have a right
to some kind of privacy
in this house.
I just don't understand you,
Hiding things
under a mattress?
Is it something
you're ashamed of?
Oh, no, ma'am.
Then why are you hiding it?
What's in that
tablet, Mama?
All my secret thoughts.
What I feel, and
what I think about.
What it's like
late at night
to hear a whippoorwill
calling and hear its
mate call back.
The rumbling of
the midnight train
crossing the trestle
at Rockfish,
or just watching the water
go by in the creek
and knowing someday
it'll reach the ocean.
Wondering if I'll
ever see an ocean
and what a wonder
that would be.
You know, Mama, sometimes I hike
on over to the highway
and I just sit and watch
the busses go by
and the people in them,
and I'm wondering
what they're like
and what they say
to each other,
and where
they're bound for.
Things stay in my mind, Mama.
I can't forget anything.
And it all gets bottled up
in here,
and sometimes I feel
like a crazy man.
I... I can't rest or sleep
or anything till I just rush off
up here and write it down
in that tablet.
Sometimes I think
I really am crazy.
I do vow.
If things had been different,
I could have done something
with my life.
Oh, you will, John-Boy.
You've got
a promising future.
What I would
have liked, Mama...
was to have tried
to be a writer.
if that's what you want,
c-couldn't you still try?
Oh, no, not in these times.
You know, it takes
a college education
to be a writer
and anyway, even if we
did have the money,
it wouldn't be right
to risk it all on me.
Anyway, I couldn't
disappoint my daddy.
You know he's got
his heart set on my
taking up a trade.
He just wants you to know
how to make a living.
Well, I could sure
never do that
scribbling things down
in a tablet.
We'll talk about this
some more, but...
Right now, we've got
something else to talk about.
There's not going to be
any more busses tonight.
Daddy won't get
home, will he?
Not unless somebody
goes after him.
Well, I can't get very far
on foot,
but I'll do the best I can.
You go see
if you can find Charlie Snead.
Uh, maybe, maybe he's still down
at the store.
His car was down there
a while ago.
You ask Charlie to drive you
over to Charlottesville.
That old car of his can get
through where a bus never would.
Here's a dollar
to pay for the gas.
If you don't see anything
of your daddy along the way,
then you go
to the bus station.
If he's not there,
try the hospital.
Well, he wouldn't be
in any hospital.
Son, a bus went
off the road
earlier today.
There's one man dead,
and some others hurt.
I didn't want
to burden you with it,
but now I think
you've got to know.
I guess... I guess
I'd better get moving.
Here, you...
better unwrap this now.
It was going to be
under the tree
in the morning,
but I think
you need it now.
Much obliged to you, Mama.
I knitted a set
for each of you.
It's all the Santa
Claus there's going
to be this year.
Can't get over how
tall you're getting.
Me, either.
It's a man's job
I'm sending you on.
Don't let me down.
I won't, Mama.
Wrap up good, now.
Where are you going, son?
To find my daddy.
( bell rings )
Hi, Charlie.
Howdy, Ike.
Hey, John-Boy.
Hey, uh,
what happened, Charlie?
Did you ever see
such a messed-up
situation in your
whole life, son?
Well, what's he got you
handcuffed for?
Well, it's all a mistake.
I come by to have a...
a soda pop with Ike here,
the first thing I know,
the law comes stomping in
and slaps these cuffs on me
like I was Al Capone.
I tried to
get word to you,
he's been hanging
around here since
the middle of the day.
Well, how was I
to know that?
I didn't see
no sheriff's car.
He outsmarted you, Charlie.
He parked out in back.
Well, he's got
the wrong man, Ike.
You know that.
I wish I did.
What do you mean
by that?
I mean all them
hams and turkeys
and canned goods
you got out
in the back
of your car.
Why, half of them still has
the name of the store
they come from marked on them.
I found all that stuff, Ike.
Now, it must have
just, you know,
slipped off
somebody's truck.
That's right, son.
I swear, I found
every bit of that stuff.
You found them,
all right.
You found them
in the storage room
of the J&B
Produce Company
after you busted
in there last night.
I was right here where I am now
last night.
Ike, you tell him.
It's a fact, Sheriff.
Charlie was right here
up till closing time.
Uh-huh. And right
after closing time,
he hightailed it over
to the J&B Produce Company.
Sheriff, why don't
you just wait
until after Christmas
to lock him up?
Uh, Charlie is
a man of his word.
He won't
run out on you.
You double-dog right he won't.
He's going to jail.
Well, now, Christmas
ain't no time to lock a man up
in that drafty old jail
of yours.
Why, I could, I could catch
pneumonia and die 'fore morning.
You want that
on your conscience?
That I caught pneumonia and died
on Christmas Day?
You should have
give that some thought
while you was lifting
them turkeys and hams.
Come on, Ike.
I'll set them up.
John-Boy, you, you run on home
and tell your daddy
the fix I'm in,
will you?
Uh, my daddy ain't home yet.
I guess something
is really wrong
if, if John ain't
got in by now.
( sighs ):
Yeah, I know,
Mama sent me down here
hoping you'd take me over
to Charlottesville,
see if we could find him.
She even give me
a dollar for the gas.
Messed-up situation!
Ike, listen, keys
to my car are in this
pocket, right over here.
Now you take them
and drive that boy
on over town, will you?
Oh, Charlie, you know
I can't do that
until the law
finishes his pool game.
you know
how to drive?
Oh, well, Daddy used
to let me drive
that old DeSoto he used to have.
Uh-huh, well, that's
good enough. Here.
Keys are right
in my pocket.
Go ahead
and take them.
All right.
You can't let this boy drive
halfway across the county
with a carload
full of stolen goods!
You leave that
up to the boy.
If he wants to take
the chance, car's his.
I appreciate it, Charlie.
( bell rings )
( coughing )
Ike, you got any, uh...
you got any Christmas cheer
in this place, huh?
Well, I got a little
of Miss Emily's
and Miss Mamie's recipe...
for snakebite.
Ah, dogies, I believe he got me
just now, look at that.
( laughs )
Yes, sir?
You've taken care of
things while I'm away?
Yes, sir, Daddy.
You remember that
bird story, Daddy,
when you were a boy?
The old yellow duck?
That old yellow duck.
( laughs )
Had me this old yellow
duck when I was six.
Just a baby.
Wanted to keep him
little, so every day
I'd squeeze him to keep
him from growing.
One day I squeezed
too hard, and he died.
Like anything, it'll
die unless it grows.
You remember when I'd bring
your lunch to the shop,
sit and listen to you
and the other men talk?
You taking
care of things?
Yes sir, Daddy.
A man ought
to learn a trade.
I remember.
Night you were born, I
wanted to wake the world--
My name
is John-Boy Walton.
All my babies
are thoroughbreds.
When I was little
I used to sit way over
in the field and pretend
I was sailing on an ocean.
Dusk would fall,
and they would call me.
Here, Daddy.
Come home!
I want to be
like you, Daddy.
I'm trying.
You're doing fine,
I try to hunt,
but I hate hunting.
I'll go hunting with you
if that's what you want.
Here he comes now.
Now don't
get buck fever.
I can't.
Aim right behind
the shoulders.
I can't!
Now! Now!
I can't!
Aim for the heart.
I can't!
I want
to be like you.
You're doing fine, son.
I'm trying.
You'll find
your own way, son,
mine's my way.
I'm trying.
I'm trying, Daddy.
I'm trying.
( engine rattling )
( turns off engine )
( engine grinding )
( in distance ):
O holy night
The stars
are brightly shining
It is the night
of our dear Savior's birth
Long lay the world
in sin and error pining
Till he appeared
And the soul felt its worth
The thrill of hope...
Come on and sing! That's it!
The world rejoices
for yonder breaks a new
And glorious morn
Fall on your knees
O hear the angels' voices
O night divine
O night
when Christ was born
O night divine
O night
O night
Praise the Lord, praise Him!
( applause )
That's what I like to hear!
You know, I'm so glad
all of you just
weathered this here storm
with all that snow
falling down out there tonight,
and you came right on in.
And you know what
the Good Book says.
"Where there are two or three
gathered in My name..."
( congregation agreeing )
You know, two or three!
( congregation agreeing )
Not 153, but "two or three
gathered in My name..."
"There I am also."
We're going to have
a good service here.
The children have been
working on something.
Marty, I want you to pull
that curtain on back,
and we're all
going to hum
"O Little Town of Bethlehem,"
and we're going to see what
these children have worked out
for us today.
And let's really support them,
all right?
Let's all start.
( humming
"O Little Town of Bethlehem" )
"And it came to pass
that in those days
"there went out a decree
from Caesar Augustus,
"that all the world
should be taxed.
"And all went to be taxed,
everyone unto his own city,
"and Joseph went also
up from Galilee
"out of the city of Nazareth,
into Judea,
"unto the city of David,
which is called Bethlehem
"to be taxed with Mary,
his espoused wife,
"being great with child.
"And so it was
that while they were there,
"the days were accomplished
that she should be delivered,
"and she brought forth
her firstborn son
"and wrapped him
in swaddling clothes
"and laid him in a manger,
"because there was no room
for them in the inn.
"There were in the same country
shepherds abiding in the field,
"keeping watch
over their flock by night--"
Come on in, Johnny, boy.
Come right on in.
Bring the shepherd on in,
bring the sheep on in,
that's it, that's it, that's it.
Bring them, come on over here.
( sheep bleating )
Come on over here.
You know, it takes
a little time,
but the Lord's
going to be with us.
Yes, Lord. Hallelujah.
Let's get an "Amen."
"And, lo!
"The angel of the Lord,"
I said,
"the angel of the Lord
"came upon them.
"And the glory of the Lord
shone around them,
"and they were so afraid.
"And the angel said unto them,
Fear not, for behold, I bring
you tidings of the great joy,
which shall be to all people.
For unto is born this day, in
the city of David, a savior,
which Christ the Lord.
Yeah! Amen!
Hey, Mary,
what you gonna name
That pretty
little baby?
Some call him
one thing
I think I'll
call him Jesus
Hey, Mary,
what you gonna call
That little pretty baby?
Some call him
one thing
I think I'll
call him Emanuel
Hey, Mary
What you gonna name
that pretty little baby?
Some call him one thing
I think
I'll call him Savior.
Hey, let's give the children
an "Amen"!
That's so nice!
Very glad.
Had a little trouble there,
but we got through it.
Let's all bow our heads
in prayer.
O most gracious Father,
we thank thee
for this cold evening,
and the warm hearts that
are here in church tonight.
We ask thee, O Lord,
to help us to be worthy
of this marvelous Savior.
We ask this in Your name's sake.
Let's give the children
another big hand.
( applause )
( knocking on wall )
Is there somebody knocking
at the door back there?
Merry Christmas!
All right!
Merry Christmas!
Hello, sonny boy.
Merry Christmas
to you, son.
Merry Christmas,
Merry Christmas,
Now, how come
you're out here
so late this time
of night, huh?
Well, I was out
in Charlie Snead's car
looking for my daddy,
and I run out of gas.
I was wondering if you knew
where I could find some.
No, but I can give you a ride
over to Ike's store,
but I'm afraid
it's closed by now.
You got one before.
Didn't you get one?
Merry Christmas.
Oh, I think you're best bet
would be the Baldwin place.
Well, they
don't sell gas.
Oh, no, no, they,
uh, you know,
they have customers
come in there to get
some of the recipe,
and we can borrow
a little gas from them.
All right?
I reckon that's worth a try.
And if there ain't
nobody there,
well, then, we'll just burn
a little of the recipe.
All righty.
Let me take care of the kids
and send them on home,
and then we'll be
on our way, all right?
Claudine! Emerine! Ike!
Y'all better come on home now.
I got to take care
of business here this evening.
Remember this one, Mamie?
Ashley Longworth
brought it
that Christmas
he came courting.
I still think of Ashley
now and then.
Did you know that?
He thought highly of you.
But he loved me.
Someone has run out
of the recipe.
Did it ever occur
to you, sister,
that if I'd married
Ashley Longworth,
you would be
carrying on
the Christmas tradition
all alone.
You've missed
every word I've said.
Oh, well, just because
you're gone, there's no reason
not to carry on
the conversation, is there?
Do you remember that Christmas,
oh, Poppy had all the cousins
from Buckingham County here,
and the house caught fire?
It's Hawthorne Dooley,
Miss Mamie.
How nice of you to call.
Who else is out there?
John-Boy Walton, Miss Mamie.
Oh, come in.
Come in.
We called
the fire engines out,
they didn't get here for ages,
and Poppy had to come find me
in his nightshirt.
Oh, I shouldn't
have mentioned that.
Came back in the house,
and everybody started
drinking the recipe
and having a fine time.
Company, Emily.
Two Christmas travelers.
I know you.
Do I know you?
John-Boy Walton,
Miss Emily.
You're nearly as big
as your daddy.
Yes, ma'am.
And, uh, Hawthorne?
Evening, Miss Emily.
You all, uh, together?
Oh, that's just about
the size of it, Miss Emily.
Well, isn't this a treat,
Company on Christmas Eve.
My sister and I
were just having
our Christmas joy.
Come on in by the fire
and enjoy it with us.
No, I got no time
for Christmas joy.
I thought we come here
to get some gas.
You're going
to get it, boy.
But you don't rush
these ladies.
But they're crazy!
Then you just
play crazy, too.
Take seats,
take seats.
Oh, why, we can't
stay, Miss Emily.
But you only
just got here.
( sighs ):
Isn't this jolly?
( nervous chuckle )
Is that the judge?
Yes, indeed.
These are
the judge's quarters.
Spent the last eight years
of his life in these rooms
reading his law books
and drinking the recipe.
And entertaining
his friends.
Those stories
simply are not true.
There were no ladies.
Only gentlemen.
Except for Miss
Flossie and Miss May.
Cousins, sister! Cousins!
Papa always
called them cousins.
Well, they certainly
dropped out of the family
after Papa died.
Oh, the judge
certainly was
a gadabout.
Wasn't he ever?
Why, some nights,
he'd just vanish
and never volunteer
to tell either of us
where he'd been.
Oh, didn't he
ever tell you
where he went
on those nights?
Sometimes I suspected
it was something
we had no right to know.
Oh. Well, now,
I'll tell you.
He used to come
and visit my papa.
The judge
would show up
in the evening
with a whole gallon jug
of the recipe,
and then he and Papa
would sip
and they'd sip
and they'd sip.
Then 'long about 10:00,
one of them
would start to singing,
and then the other one
would join in.
"When the Roll Is Called
Up Yonder," I wager.
Oh, yeah, that was one
of their favorites.
Yes, it was.
And they'd keep on singing
until, uh,
they couldn't stand up. Yeah.
And then Mama,
she'd put them to bed,
and they'd just keep on singing
until they fell asleep.
( laughing )
He knew that hymnal
from front
to finish.
( sotto voce ):
I have got to go.
What's that?
Oh, nothing, Miss Emily.
( sotto voce ):
You have got to stay.
You gentlemen must be
frozen to death.
Take off those wet boots
and let them dry by the fire
while we visit.
No, we really can't stay,
Miss Emily.
You see, we...
you see, we...
Now, take off
your shoes
and those damn
socks, too,
before you
both come down
with lung trouble.
There are going to be
socks hanging
by our fireplace again.
( chuckling )
What's Santa Claus
going to say
when he sees that?
Sister, you're such
a ninny,
believing in Santa Claus
at your age.
Why, I do, I do.
Just because he doesn't
pay us a call anymore
is no reason
to stop believing.
Do you remember
Ashley Longworth?
Yes, I have heard of him,
Miss Emily.
Your papa used
to speak of him.
Did he really?
What did he say?
Well, I don't think
he held too high
of an opinion of him.
I sometimes wonder
whatever happened
to Ashley Longworth.
Papa chased him off
is what happened.
( soft chuckle )
My, wasn't he the
handsome thing, Mamie?
Knew it, too.
that handsome had
to know it.
I always remember
my 25th birthday.
October 19.
Ashley was here as usual,
and he asked me
to go for a walk with him.
The woods were afire with color,
and as we stood
under a maple tree,
a shower of golden leaves fell.
There was a regular whirlwind
of them.
And in that whirlwind
of golden leaves,
Ashley Longworth kissed me.
Ashley left
that evening.
I heard from him once.
Farewell letter,
you might call it.
Then nothing.
I think of him often, but...
as the years have gone by,
and still no word of him comes,
I've decided he must have died
in one of the wars.
Yes, ma'am.
I'm sorry.
Do y...?
Do you think maybe
that we could
borrow some... ?
I'm sorry, Miss Emily.
Emily, put a record
on the Victrola.
It'll probably need winding.
Hasn't been used
since the last time
we had a party.
That was
before Papa died.
Remember when all the Buckingham
cousins dropped in?
Papa hadn't seen them
in years.
Oh, we played hymns
and sang, and afterwards,
everyone started
drinking the recipe
and hugging and crying.
Oh, mercy.
That was a day to remember.
( Italian
operatic aria playing )
It's Mr. Enrico Caruso.
The nice thing
about life is
you never know
when there's going
to be a party.
Wouldn't have been
if our Christmas travelers
hadn't taken it in mind
to stop by.
( record skipping )
Sit still, everybody.
It's no catastrophe.
Oh, ladies,
ladies, ladies,
never mind
that. Uh-uh.
What a Christmas.
Praise the Lord.
You know, I
remember so well
your papa and my papa
singing together.
Oh, how I wish
I could have been there
when they sang
"Throw Out the Lifeline."
Oh, well,
then follow me.
Throw out the life line
Throw out the life line
( ladies join in ):
Someone is drifting away
Throw out the life line
Throw out the life line
Someone is sinking today
Throw out the life line
across the dark way
There is a brother
whom someone should save
Somebody's brother,
oh, who, then would dare
To throw out the life line
a world of care?
Throw out the life line
Throw out the life line
Someone is drifting away
Throw out the life line
Throw out the life line
Someone is sinking today.
( everybody laughing )
Miss Emily,
Miss Mamie,
we got to
have some gas.
where do we keep the gas?
In the car, sister.
But I'm afraid
there isn't any.
What you need it for?
Well, I was out
looking for my daddy
in Charlie Snead's car,
and I run out.
Why didn't you say so
in the first place?
Come on.
Throw out the life line,
throw out the life line
Someone is drifting away...
( bells jingling )
Hyah, hyah, hyah!
( bells jingling )
( laughter )
Don't worry about
anything, Johnny-Boy.
We're going to
find your daddy.
Well, I'm much obliged
to everybody.
I'm just sorry
about all the trouble.
It's an adventure.
We kept Papa's
sleigh dusted
and polished
all these years
just waiting
for an occasion.
Oh, my, my, my!
Isn't this
a treat?
Well, it will be just as soon
as we find my daddy.
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
in a one-horse open sleigh
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
in a one-horse open sleigh.
Oh, I said whoa there,
big fella.
Hold on.
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.
Well, can't we
get into the woods
and go around it?
We could try,
can't we, Hawthorne?
No. She'll founder in the drift.
I'm afraid we're going to have
to turn around.
Well, I got to
go on from here
on foot then.
Oh, it's 30 miles
to Charlottesville, boy.
It'll take you a week
to get there.
John-Boy, you must let us
take you home.
I have got to
find my daddy.
Now, you don't know
where he is,
and if anything happens to him,
you're going to be needed
at home, so let's go.
Come on. Come over there.
Come on there.
come on.
Now that's it, girl.
Come on.
That's it,
that's it,
that's it.
Oh, yeah.
Whoa, whoa, whoa,
whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.
All right.
( calling to horses )
Come on.
All right, come on.
Come on there. Come on.
( calling to horses )
Come on there.
( bells jingling )
( bells continue jingling )
( whispering ):
You hear something?
I sure did.
What is that?
Santa Claus.
We'll just see
about that.
Let go of me!
If he sees you,
he won't leave any presents.
Don't worry,
he won't see me.
Now turn me
We're supposed
to be asleep.
Don't worry, honey.
He'll never know.
Come on.
We can watch
from the head of the stairs.
Come on. Don't you want
to see him?
Let's go.
Who is it, Livia?
Can't make out,
Mama, it's
Santa Claus.
What are you children doing
out of bed?
It's not Santa Claus.
Whoever it is
has let somebody out.
Is that John?
Looks more like John-Boy.
Is my daddy with him?
He's all alone.
Why don't you children go back
to bed?
You said if we rested a while,
we could see the miracle.
( bells jingling )
Honey, there's not going
to be any miracle.
Just the same,
I'd like to
see for myself.
( door opening )
Is Daddy home?
Not yet.
Who was that let you off
down at the gate?
Oh, it was Miss Mamie
and Miss Emily Baldwin.
They give me a ride home
in their pappy's sleigh.
We thought it
was Santa Claus.
What am I going to do
with you, boy?
I send you
looking for your daddy,
and you end up joyriding
with two old lady bootleggers.
I wasn't
joyriding, Mama.
Well, they-they took
me to look for Daddy.
We got right far,
but there was a tree
down in the road
stopped us dead.
What's that you got
in your hand?
Oh, it's a
present, Mama,
from Miss Mamie
and Miss Emily.
Bootleg whiskey.
Don't those crazy old women know
I don't allow whiskey
in this house?
I've got young children
in this house.
What sort of example
do they think we set here?
You take it out yonder
and pour it on the ground.
it's not whiskey,
Mama, it's eggnog.
I ought to be
ashamed of myself.
Well, it'll be midnight
before you know it.
I'll be getting
to the church now.
Old man, you stay
in this house.
You're too old
to be prancing
around in the cold.
Old woman,
you're not the boss of me.
I got to ring in Christmas.
Papa, it's awful
slippery outside.
Nobody will expect you to ring
the church bells tonight.
Well, the Methodists will
be ringing in Christmas,
and so will the Episcopals.
Well, the Baptist bell
is going to be ringing
right along with them.
Well, you want one of my
children to go along with you?
I'll be all right,
Ladies and gentlemen,
since you'll be asleep
when I come home,
I bid you merry Christmas.
( all saying good-bye)
Merry Christmas,
you old fool.
I thought we were going
to the stable.
All right.
Will you go with us, John-Boy,
to see the miracle
in the barn?
Yeah, sure, honey. I'll go.
Anybody else? Grandma?
No, I'm going to bed.
I'm... I'm too tired
to keep my eyes open.
Good night, everybody.
Good night.
How about you, Mama?
First miracle
I want to see tonight
is your daddy
walking through that door.
Tell us the story
again, John-Boy.
When Jesus was born,
it was in a stable.
And the first things
to lay eyes on him,
except for his mama
and his papa...
The, uh, first things
to lay eyes on him,
was the sheep
and the goats and the cows
and all the other animals
that lived there.
All dumb animals.
All dumb animals.
But they were the first ever
to see Jesus' face.
And ever since that night,
animals all over the world
wait up...
and at the stroke
of midnight,
they kneel down
and they pray
and speak
in human voices.
I wonder what they say.
( clattering )
on the roof!
Santa Claus!
Oh, will you look
who's home.
It's Daddy!
( chuckling )
You want some coffee?
I've been keeping it warm.
I'll help you, Mama.
Don't cry, Mama.
He's home.
( crying ):
Oh, John.
Where have you been?
Oh, what a woman
I married.
I picked a peach when I came
a-courtin' you, girl.
Oh, let me down,
you crazy thing.
I set a good example
to these children,
you go acting like a crazy man.
Put me down.
Where in the world
were you, John?
Well, the last bus
out of town
ran into an accident.
Oh, I heard.
I just knew
you were on it.
Well, no, I wasn't on it,
but I was stuck over there.
Oh, thank you, John-Boy.
I didn't see any point
to spending Christmas
in a bus station,
so I started hitchhiking.
I must've spent
half the day
out there on that road with
my thumb up in the air.
Got as far as Hickory Creek
before dark and from then on,
it was every step
along the way by foot.
What's in that sack, Daddy?
Well, now, doggone
if I know, Ben.
Why don't we just dump
it out and have a look.
( laughing )
I wonder
what we got?
( laughing )
Where did
they come from?
Well, you see, I was
walking across the yard,
I didn't want
to make any noise
'cause I figured
that you kids
would all be asleep,
you see?
All of a sudden,
I saw something flying
across the sky.
It landed right on top
of this house.
We heard it.
You did?
Well, I wait a second,
then I saw this team
of some kind of animals,
looked like about the size
of a year-old calf, you know?
Had little pointy
things coming up
at the top
of the head.
I think so, Ben, I think so.
Now, I never seen a reindeer,
I don't know for sure,
but I think that's
what it must've been.
And I looked and then this
little old man got out.
Little old man
dressed in black boots
and a red coat and some kind
of white fur all around here.
Santa Claus.
Sure it was!
But I'd never seen
that old son of a gun
before, Elizabeth,
I didn't know who it was.
I thought it might be
somebody trying
to break into the house.
So I looked around
and I got me the biggest
rock I could find.
You hit him with a rock?
No, I didn't hit him,
but I scared him.
I scared him so much
that that sleigh
slid right off
of the roof of the house
and landed down in the yard.
( laughing )
You should've seen that old man
cracking that whip
and telling them reindeer, Ben,
reindeer to take off.
But I was able to grab ahold
before he left the ground.
You talked to him?
No, I didn't talk to him,
but I wrestled him,
and I got me
a whole big armload
of that stuff in that sleigh
before he got away.
And there it is.
( gasps )
( paper rustling )
I think this one's
for you, Elizabeth.
This is for you.
Let's go.
Who's is this?
Oh, this
is yours.
( paper rustling )
I never in all my life
saw anything so pretty.
A teddy bear.
A train set.
I never thought
I'd get a train set.
Mama, look.
Oh, it's too
pretty to wear.
( plays harmonica )
Hey, Ben.
Would you bring
that one over here?
I think this
must be for you.
What in the world?
You've been wishing
for springtime.
Flowers in the dead of winter.
It's a miracle.
There's two
left over.
Those are for grandma
and grandpa.
Son, why don't you
open yours up?
Oh, yeah.
I wonder how word got
all the way to the North Pole
you wanted to be a writer?
Well, I guess he must be
a right smart man.
I don't know a thing
about the writing trade, son,
but if you want to take it up,
you got to give it your best.
That's true, Daddy.
I see some sleepy children.
Off to bed now.
You can play
in the morning.
( children groaning )
Good night, Daddy.
Good night, sugar.
Don't say
good night, yet.
Wait until we're all in bed
and the last light goes out.
Okay, get along, kids.
Thanks, Dad.
You all right, sweetheart?
I am now.
Well, you won't be having
another day like this one.
I'm not going back.
You quit your job?
I think hard times
are almost over.
I think the country's
going to get better.
Until it does get better,
I'll make a living here
on Walton's Mountain.
In the dead of winter,
with everything
covered with snow...
There's timber for lumber,
and railroad ties, firewood...
In the spring,
I'll plow and plant.
Come fall, I'll harvest
what I can.
We'll get along.
You must have spent every
cent of your paycheck.
Just about.
But, John...
what are we going
to live on this coming week?
Love, woman.
Christmas is a season
when we give tokens of love.
In that house, we received
not tokens, but love itself.
I became the writer
I promised my father I'd be,
and my destiny led me far
from Walton's Mountain.
My mother lives there still,
alone now,
for we lost my father in 1969.
My brothers and sisters, grown
with children of their own,
live not far away.
We are still a close family
and see each other when we can.
And like Miss Mamie Baldwin's
fourth cousins,
we're apt to sample the recipe
and then gather around
the piano and hug each other
while we sing the old songs,
for no matter
the time or distance,
we are united in the memory
of that Christmas Eve.
More than 30 years
and 3,000 miles away,
I can still hear
those sweet voices.
Good night, John-Boy.
Good night, Elizabeth.
Good night, Daddy.
Good night, son.
Good night, Mary Ellen.
Good night, Daddy.
Good night, Mama.
Good night, Mary Ellen.
Good night, Jim-Bob.
Good night, Mama.
Good night, Erin.
Good night, Jim-Bob.
Good night, Ben.
Good night, Erin.
Good night, everybody.
( soft acoustic guitar plays )
Captioned by