Writer: Paul Savage.
Director: Harry Harris.
Music: Alexander Courage.
"Time's inexorable march brought constant changes and challenges to the people on Waltons Mountain. Happily for us the closeness of our family seemed always to temper life's harsher moments. However a crisp cold Sunday morning in December of 1941 was to bring an event that would sorely test our family and the entire nation".
Elizabeth and Jim Bob post the announcement for Sunday’s service at the First Baptist Church. Jim Bob reads back the notice to Elizabeth saying, ‘Peace: Man’s Gift to Man under God – Dec. 7, 1941’. Elizabeth exclaims “only eighteen days ‘til Christmas”.
On Sunday, Jason brings the Sunday paper to his father who will be babysitting while the family attends church. While dressing Ben asks Jim Bob to substitute for him at Ike’s civil defense drill so he can go out on a date this afternoon with Cindy. While walking to church, Mary Ellen talks with Olivia about her move to join Curt at Pearl Harbor. Behind them, Elizabeth and Erin talk about sneaking to watch the movie Suspicion that according to Luella Parsons is the best movie that Alfred Hitchcock has made. Verdie Foster meets Olivia where they discuss their feelings about waiting for loved ones to return from the war.
After Sunday dinner, Cindy, a beautiful girl with long, blonde hair and a bright red convertible, picks up Ben for their date. Olivia tells John that she thinks the girl looks ‘suggestive’. To surprise Mary Ellen with an early Christmas before she leaves for Hawaii, they depart to chop down one of the trees that Grandpa planted. With Jason at a recital and Jim Bob at Ike’s drill, Grandma listens to the Sunday concert on the radio while Mary Ellen and John Curtis pack for their trip. But the program is interrupted by a report that Japan has attacked Pearl Harbor from the air. Upset at the news, Grandma brings Mary Ellen to the radio.
Corabeth interrupts the civil defense drill with the awful news that sends Jim Bob home. At the movie theatre, the manager stops the news clip to inform the audience about the attack in the Pacific Ocean. Erin and Elizabeth rush home while Ben interrupts his first date upon hearing the news on the car radio. Jason postpones his piano recital when Professor Collier tells him about the disaster.
John and Olivia are the last to find out the terrible news. Upon hearing, Olivia runs to Mary Ellen, knowing how she must feel. Later, Ike, Corabeth, and Verdie join the family in listening to more news about the attack. Mary Ellen later finds the small Christmas tree and wants to decorate it. Olivia says of her daughter, ‘She’s all torn up on the inside, and all Mary Ellen on the outside.’
Jason, Ben, and Jim Bob join their mother on the front porch. She tells her sons that she sees the Mountain as it always looks, but knows nothing is really the same. The boys talk about the wars that Grandpa, their father, and Uncle Ben fought in. Olivia suddenly realizes what this war will mean to her, that her sons will eventually go to war. Grandma searches for something in her dresser drawer but is interrupted by John. Her son says that he will need her strength to move the family through this crisis. The boys talk further about what branch of the service they want to join; Jim Bob wants to join the Air Corp, Ben the Navy, and Jason wonders about his status with the National Guard. John overhears the conversation but tells the boys that for the time being he will need them at the mill because Matt Sarver has doubled all orders in response to Pearl Harbor. All three agree, but Jim Bob still seems more determined than ever to join as soon as possible. The family decorates the tree for Christmas while Jason plays Christmas songs on the piano. Mary Ellen finds the bird’s nest that she first placed on their tree when she was very young.
Mary Ellen is alone in the office when she remembers back to the time her husband first arrived on the Mountain. She reminisces about the quarrels they had and the misunderstanding that occurred between the community and their new doctor. Mary Ellen then looks back to her marriage to Curt and later how her husband had to unexpectedly deliver their first-born son. Erin interrupts her flashbacks to remind her about the upcoming speech by the President. Ike prepares for the broadcast while Corabeth says that she always wanted a son. However, with the war upon them, she is glad she will not have to bear the heartache of having her son fight. FDR formally declares war on Japan saying that yesterday December 7, 1941 will be ‘a date that will live in infamy’. The family listens but wonders where Jim Bob has gone. Verdie arrives at the end of the speech to announce that Jodie was only wounded by a bomb blast. Jim Bob then walks in to say the recruiting office rejected him because he was too young. While in Rockfish, Jeb at the telegraph office asks him to give a letter to Mary Ellen. Jim Bob solemnly gives the news to Mary Ellen that Curt was killed while taking care of the wounded. In shock, Mary Ellen sits down with her baby in her arms. The family gathers around her while Grandma leaves for her room. She returns with a letter from Curt addressed to John Curtis. In the letter Curt praises the members of the Walton’s for their individual strengths and informs his young son of the love and kindness within the family. Although John Curtis has been given life and love, everything else, his father writes, you must earn yourself.
"We had always known how strong willed Mary Ellen could be, but those two December days proved her great inner strength. These were the times that would remain in the memories of all Americans who were old enough to grasp the meaning of what had happened on December 7 1941, the day when the world was never again to be the same"
No "goodnights" in this episode.
Verdie’s son, Jodie, is stationed on the battleship Arizona.
Mary Ellen first placed her bird’s nest as a Christmas decoration on the family’s tree in The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, the movie that inspired the series The Waltons.
The name ‘C. Willard M.D.’ appears on the side of Mary Ellen and Curt’s home mailbox.
We are introduced in this episode to Cindy, Ben’s future wife. Robin Eisenman was the first actress to appear as Cindy.
Information about the movie Suspicion is located at: http://www.mysterynet.com/hitchcock/movie-suspicion.shtml
Ike Godsey (Joe Conley); Corabeth Godsey (Ronnie Claire Edwards); Verdie Foster (Lynn Hamilton); Curt Willard (Tom Bower); Cindy (Robin Eisenman); The Theatre Manager (Norman Andrews); Professor Collier (Sid Conrad); Announcers (Walker Ed, Art Gilmore, and Bud Hiestand); John Curtis Willard (Michael and Marshall Reed).