The following is an essay I wrote for my Christmas History class at North Pole High. My teacher, Mr. Ghost of Christmas Past, gave me a shining star to hang on my Christmas tree for it.
is one of the first television sitcoms in the United States, making their 1949 “Christmas Eve” episode one of the first very special Christmas episodes of a regular TV series.
The family-themed show opens with my favorite part: the two youngest children, Donna and Donald, reading their father a letter they’ve written to my
father asking for a “real train” for Christmas, and “a couple more boyfriends” for their older sister Sharon. They’ve been good more times than they’ve been bad, they say.
The letter closes with a “P.S.,” which they say stands for “Please, Santa.,” reminding Daddy to give any leftover toys to children who aren’t as lucky as the little Ruggles. (PS: Daddy always makes enough toys for everyone who’s been good.)
When the mother and older siblings, inspired by the kids’ postscript, decide to give to those less fortunate, the father, who complains every year about having to put up a Christmas tree, scolds them for their unwarranted generosity. Even though he’s the star of the show, he’s what my Christmas Lit teacher would call the "Scrooge" of the story. Every Christmas story has one.
After their Christmas-Eve-morning ritual of reading their Christmas cards out loud over breakfast, the family decides to help Elaine, a less fortunate friend of Sharon’s whose father recently died. But when they tell poor Elaine of their plan to help someone less fortunate, she assumes they came to her for suggestions. Her father must have had a swell life insurance policy, because she doesn’t consider herself less fortunate at all.
Elaine and the Ruggles then share a splendid Yuletide meal and sing Christmas carols together. It turns out Elaine may be even less unfortunate one day. She has a beautiful voice and Mr. Ruggles offers to help her get a record contract. The show ends with Elaine singing “Silent Night.”
You can find this charming Christmas episode on many Classic Christmas TV compilation DVDs, such as Holiday TV Classics and Rare Christmas TV Classics Volume 1.
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