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We spend so much time writing and reading about saving nickels and dimes that sometimes we forget what it’s really like to truly “Do without”. This made for TV movie always brings me right back to my roots when I forget those valuable lessons.
Growing up in the 70s I remember so much about that time. The people, places and the era in general. Many of the parents from that era had grown up during the depression and understood how to be frugal by learning in the school of hard knocks. They were very skeptical and hesitant to use any form of credit and were often too proud to accept charity.
One TV special that really stuck with me through the years was a “House without a Christmas Tree”. It takes place in a fictitious household of the 1940’s and features a little girl in 5th grade and her single parent Dad who grew up in the depression-era. That was my parents. Since I’m the youngest of 8 kids, they had a lot of practice working out some of the holiday kinks before I arrived. Regardless, the story resonated with me, because my parents acted like the parents in this show.
When times are tough
The premise of the show is that the little girl, Addie Mills, was never allowed to have a Christmas tree. You see the Father never wanted one. It wasn’t that he couldn’t afford it, but it brought back memories of his wife, who fell ill and died after child birth. I’m not going to spoil the entire plot, but I will say that the story winds its way toward a reconciliation and a bridging of wounds between father and daughter and in some ways generations.
The show is unique and has an almost PBS-like theater quality to its’ performance. I still marvel at the quality of the acting when I watch this thing at least once per year.
A few years ago I purchased 10 copies of this movie on DVD and have distributed most of them to family and friends who I thought might enjoy it.
Quality story telling
There are several things I find appealing about this show.:
The VHS style cinematography
The light musical soundtrack
The scene changes that freeze into colored paper reproductions
The “Tom-boyish” attitude of the female star
However, it’s the quality of the acting and the message that really seal it. It highlights the fact that by being charitable you can reach people’s hearts in ways that you might not otherwise.
While it is dated and a bit of out of touch with modern parenting practices you should check it out. I think you’ll be glad that you did.