About Christmas TV History

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Waltons: The Children's Carol (1977)

The Waltons cast reunion coming up on Friday December 2, 2011 will include fourteen actors from The TV series The Waltons and the TV movie The Homecoming.  For more details: http://WaltonsHomecoming40th.com.

Waltons fans most often refer to 1977's "The Children's Carol" as their favorite Christmas episode of the series. Since the original broadcast, the two-hour story is often split into two parts to air in syndication.

The war in Europe has affected everyone, dampening Christmas spirits.  The Walton family takes into their home two young English children, a brother and a sister named Tess and Pip, who are war refugees from the bombings in London.  They have been severely traumatized by their ordeals and need the love and safety of Waltons’ Mountain.
Tess and Pip, English children orphaned by the blitz
Verdie has been selling cakes to raise money for Christmas toys for charity but is attacked and robbed of her funds.  In the true spirit of Christmas, Ben sacrifices the money he’s saved for himself to give to Verdie.
Ben helps Verdie find her stolen purse
Mary Ellen takes an apartment just outside the military base to be nearer to her husband Curt.  But she finds she needs to be emotionally closer to her husband despite her physical proximity.

Curt and Mary Ellen
Olivia is moved by the trauma of the war and the psychological damage to Tess and Pip.  She begins to question her faith during this time of tremendous global conflict.

Olivia questions her faith in this time of trouble
Fearing an uncertain future, Tess and Pip stow away on a truck to find themselves even more frightened at the air corps base on the runway with a plane rushing towards them!  Putting his own life in jeopardy, John attempts to rescue the children from harm.

John grabs the children just in time!
Jason sets aside his music writing while he questions himself about his ability to be a soldier.  After words of advice from his father, Jason writes his own Christmas song “The Children’s Carol” on the piano that the family sings together on Christmas.

Jason composes "The Children's Carol"
Christmas spirits are made bright when snow finally arrives in time for Christmas on Walton's Mountain.

Elizabeth's wish for snow comes true
But the emotional highpoint of the story occurs when Jim Bob’s English friend that he communicates with over a short wave radio finds Tess and Pip's mother alive--a Christmas miracle restoring hope to everyone on Walton’s Mountain.

Tess and Pip on the short wave radio to London
The song ‘The Children’s Carol” was co-written by John McGreevey and Alexander Courage, the show’s writer and the series’ music director.

The young boy Pip is played by actor Jeff Cotler, the real-life brother of Kami Cotler who plays Elizabeth.

Is this your personal favorite Christmas episode of The Waltons?  Do you currently watch The Waltons on the Hallmark Channel? GMC? or the Inspiration Network?


  1. I love this episode. It brings the true heartache, reality, and hospitality of American folk, as well as the British, of the 1940s to life. The folks depicted in this series were genuine Americans who truly placed value and priority on family and honorable values....a thing of the past indeed. Poor Tess and Pip - nobody really understood them though they tried to. Wonderful series!!

    1. I didn't understand Tess and Pip either and I'm English....Sounds as if Tess went to the Dick van Dyke school of 'English accents'....

  2. "The Best Christmas" is still my favorite of the Christmas episodes, but I like this one a lot. I still play "Day of Infamy" every December 7.

  3. so The song ‘The Children’s Carol” was co-written by John McGreevey and Alexander Courage was never actually published?..

    are the lyrics available??

  4. According to Wikipedia, Sally Boyden, the actress who plays the English child Tess Wrayburn, was from Australia where she enjoyed some success as a singer and songwriter about a year before appearing on The Waltons. She was a young Australian actress playing a 1940s English girl on an American television show. My biggest gripe is when they wish their mum a Merry Christmas. I believe the more common phrase in England is Happy Christmas. It remains a touching moment in a wonderful episode.

    1. It was a wonderful story we watch every year. Wish the lyrics to the song Jason played would be available. Couldn't you just post the words?

  5. Oh, why can't they write tv shows like these anymore? Why are folks so afraid to bring God into things? What a marvelous time of year! And this added to the serenity!