Episode 11 - The Best Christmas

(9 December 1976)
Writer: John McGreevey.
Director: Lawrence Dobkin.
Music: Alexander Courage.


"On Waltons Mountain every Christmas was memorable. Each new year held some special surprise or delight that set it apart. But I think the one we all remember most fondly was what was planned to be our mother's best Christmas. It began with the quickening sense of wonder and astonishment that always accompanied the first snowfall".


The first snowfall on Waltons Mountain finds Elizabeth, Jason, and Jim Bob enjoying a snowball fight. But Olivia is concerned that this may be the last Christmas where all of the family is together. With Elizabeth pressing her hand against an icy window, Olivia vows this will be the family’s best Christmas.


On the morning of Christmas Eve, Grandpa and Grandma leave for Charlottesville for a visit with Maude Gormley who is at a retirement home recuperating from a broken hip. They sing ‘Jingle Bells’ and swap stories of past Christmases -- especially enjoying the time Grandpa got stuck in the chimney of the church while playing Santa Claus. When it is time to leave, they decide to stay for one more cup of tea hoping their extra time with Maude will brighten her spirits. As they drive home in the dark the falling snow and icy roads make it impossible for them to continue. They return to Charlottesville but find all hotel rooms filled with travelers also stranded from the storm. Knowing they must spend the night in a hotel lobby, Grandpa says they will spend the night in the city’s fanciest hotel lobby, the Jefferson Arms.


With Grandpa and Grandma stranded in Charlottesville, John-Boy and Elizabeth visit the Godsey’s where they view the Christmas decorations that Corabeth has made for this year’s very special Christmas, her and Ike’s first Christmas with Aimee. John-Boy leaves Elizabeth to play with Aimee while he drives to Professor Parks’ office to meet a book editor from New York City. With the roads becoming icy with the growing storm, the editor is late in arriving. John-Boy finally must leave without meeting the editor in order not to miss Christmas Eve dinner. When he stops by Miss Fanny’s, he learns from Erin, who is operating the switchboard, that Miss Fanny and her niece, Jo Ellen, are missing. While he is driving in search for them, Harley Foster hails John-Boy down. Miss Fanny’s car has skidded off the icy road into Drusilla’s Pond. John-Boy and Harley valiantly attempt to rescue the two while Verdie Foster calls Erin for help. Erin relays the emergency message to Curt and Mary Ellen who immediately proceed to the accident scene. After John-Boy and Harley extricate Miss Fanny and Jo Ellen from the sinking car, Curt and Mary Ellen treat the two for frostbite at the Foster’s.


With John-Boy, Curt, and Mary Ellen helping Miss Fanny and Jo Ellen, Reverend Fordwick decorates the church and Jason practices the minister’s favorite Christmas hymn ‘Joy to the World’. When the Reverend leaves for the parsonage Jason stays to practice. Later, as Jason prepares to depart, the trees outside the church moan from the weight of the accumulating snow. After closing the door behind him, Jason hears a tree on the north side of the church crash through the church’s roof.  He races home to tell John that the tree must be removed if church services are to be held on Christmas morning. With Ike and Reverend Fordwick joining John and Jason they patch the roof with tarps and cut the tree so it can be removed from inside the church. Reverend Fordwick says this is the most wonderful present he has received while serving as a pastor -- the friendship and dedication shown by Ike, John, and Jason.


With John and Jason repairing the church, Ben delivers a Christmas present, a pipe holder, to Yancy. With his wife visiting her parents, Yancy is not expecting much of a Christmas and is very appreciative for this unexpected gift from Ben. He hurriedly finds a shoe shine kit to give Ben in return. With the snow storm gaining momentum Ben tells Yancy he must start home so he won’t be late for dinner. Yancy offers to drive him in his old ‘flibber’ but the automobile won’t start in the bitter cold weather. Ben decides he must walk home and Yancy walks with him to make sure he arrives safely.


With Ben brightening Yancy’s Christmas, Jim Bob arrives at Mrs. Brimmer’s to take Patsy as his guest for dinner at the Waltons. Olivia, in the meantime, walks to Ike’s store to bring Elizabeth home. When Jim Bob and Patsy arrive at the house, no one is home. Jim Bob can not understand where everyone could have gone, especially when he notices the food is still on the stove.


With the electricity out from downed power lines, the Waltons retire to a cold house. Everybody has finally returned home except for Grandma and Grandpa. Even though they are not all together, Olivia says she has never felt closer to them. Early on Christmas morning, Grandpa and Grandma arrive at the house with nearly a foot of snow on the ground. Everyone is now home. The Waltons celebrate with the Christmas carol ‘I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day’ knowing they are together enjoying the best Christmas ever.


"Next morning the Waltons were altogether again, in reality as well as in spirit. Only a few years later, when circumstances kept some of us in the hedgerows of Normandy, or on Christmas duty in the emergency ward of a big hospital, our memories of Mama's best Christmas helped to comfort and sustain us".


(No 'Goodnights'.)



Mrs. Ogleby calls Erin at the telephone switchboard before Miss Fanny’s sister calls telling Erin her concern for Miss Fanny’s whereabouts.

Mrs. Tolliver calls Curt’s office about an ailment. When Mary Ellen says they will be late for dinner because of Mrs. Tolliver’s call, Curt says that Olivia will understand because “she knows Mrs. Tolliver”.

Yancy’s dog is named Earl (maybe incorrect because dog’s name is Tiger)?

The book editor from NYC is Professor Parks’ friend, Hank.

The lyrics of Jingle Bells is found at: http://www.carols.org.uk/jingle_bells.htm and http://argus.njit.edu/RCC/music/midi/christmas/lyrics.html.

The lyrics of I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day is found at: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/i/h/iheardtb.htm.


Also appearing:

Ike and Corabeth Godsey (Joe Conley and Ronnie Claire Edwards); Curt Willard (Tom Bower); Rev. Fordwick (John Ritter); Verdie Foster (Lynn Hamilton); Harley Foster (Hal Williams); Yancy Tucker (Robert Donner); Prof. Parks (Paul Jenkins); Maude Gormley (Merie Earle); Mrs. Brimmer (Nora Marlowe); Jo Ellen (Lisa Kyke); Aimee Godsey (Rachel Longaker); Fanny Tatum (Sheila Allen); Patsy Brimmer (Debbie Gunn); Radio announcer (John Heistand).