After a mother dies, her family appears destined to spend the rest of its days picking up the pieces. In 1940's Nebraska, a sweet and intelligent 10-year-old girl raises the ire of her bitter widower father, who has never forgotten that his wife died while giving birth to their daughter. To illustrate for the girl that life does not come easy, the father bars the family, which also includes his mother, from having a traditional Christmas tree. This yuletide, though, has a happy surprise for this home so desperately in need of holiday cheer.
The loss of a loved one is never easy and memories often make the holiday season especially difficult. Addie (Lisa Lucas) lost her mother when she was very young and, while she sometimes yearns for her mother, she is a happy well-adjusted ten-year old who wants nothing more than to have a Christmas tree in the living room. Addie's father (Jason Robards) absolutely refuses to have a Christmas tree in the house, but offers no explanation for his stubborn resolve which leads Addie to question his motives and his love for her. It falls to Addie's Grandmother (Mildred Natwick) to explain that her father is still immersed in grief over the loss of his wife and that the memories of Christmases past are simply too painful for him to endure. When Addie wins a tree at school, her father is enraged by both the presence of the tree in his home and the idea of his family accepting charity. Only by opening a line of communication and sharing their feelings and memories with one another can Addie and her father reconcile their differences and begin to understand one another. Set in 1964, this 1972 made-for-television special feels like a stage play with sets and scenery that evoke the essence of an age-gone-by. The message, of course, is timeless. (Ages 5 and older) --Tami Horiuchi