This may get me on Santa’s naughty list, but I honestly can’t remember whether I watched “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story” when CBS first aired it on December 19, 1971.
Since my mother is an antique collector and regales everyone with tales of growing up during “hard times,” and since many of my ancestors came from Virginia, it’s certainly PLAUSIBLE that I got in on the ground floor of Earl Hamner Jr.’s heartwarming classic about the Great Depression.
(Granted, being old enough to have been ELIGIBLE for watching that premiere, I also struggle to remember having written the previous paragraph. Hey, why did I enter the room with the laptop in it?)
At the very least, I watched the reruns of the holiday special after it spawned the long-running series “The Waltons.” (If you thought I was going to type that it spawned the long-running series “Joanie Loves Chachi,” the Baldwin Sisters have probably slipped a little too much of “papa’s recipe” into your eggnog.)
And I’m looking forward to the November 28 airing of 50th anniversary remake “The Waltons’ Homecoming” on the CW network. (Some newspapers will publish this column before that date. Some will publish it after that date. The remainder will be receiving coal in their stockings.)
My wife and I love CW, but its reputation for comic-book adaptations, social justice pandering and quirky casting gave me momentary trepidations about a Waltons makeover.
Imagine the remake containing dialogue such as “Nooo! You tugged the wrong cow’s udder and ripped a hole in the time-space continuum!” or “We’re anxiously waiting for the family PATRIARCH to get home in a snowstorm? Isn’t this a good opportunity to be DONE with the patriarchy and its systemic evils, especially if Daddy doesn’t bring that new dolly?”
No, I’m going to put those fears out of my mind. I’m genuinely heartened that films such as this and “Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors” can add a little variety to the types of yuletide movies offered nowadays.
Let’s face it: except for the occasional special-effects Santa fantasy, most Christmas movies settle into two comfort zones. They glamorize dysfunctional families and sex-starved singles, or they use an algorithm to sell greeting cards via mix-and-match happy endings.
As for the former, I would hate to see John Walton, Sr. experience a full-blown Clark Griswold meltdown when his Christmas bonus comes up short – even if it would trigger the lucrative sequel “Avalanche on Walton’s Mountain.”
Regarding the other style of movie, it would pain me to see Jim-Bob and Elizabeth getting such an unrealistic view of world events. Franklin Roosevelt and Adolf Hitler would get off to a rocky start, but by the final act they would be roasting marshmallows during a fireside chat. (“Mussolini – keep those chestnuts running on time!”)
Wait – I forgot the action-oriented Christmas movies. Wouldn’t you hate to see Bruce Willis’s cop John McClane show up with guns blazing near the outhouses? Instead of “Die Hard,” it would be “Wipe Fast.”
What about it? Is watching “The Waltons’ Homecoming” part of your holiday plan? Would you like it to launch a wholesome weekly series and have “Good night, John-Boy” reverberate throughout the land again?
While I await your email (firstname.lastname@example.org), I’ll be shopping for coal at Ike Godsey’s store.
“I’ll be breaking and entering for Christmas, if only in my dreams…”