On a Christmas eve during the Depression, matriarch Olivia Walton (Neal) and her large brood, including eldest son John-Boy (Thomas), wait anxiously for patriarch John (Duggan), who's been forced to take a job in the city far from home, with no reliable transportation to bring him back. With inclement weather making roads impassable, will he be able to return in time for Christmas?
Based on the autobiographical novel by Earl Hamner, Jr., Fielder Cook's heartwarming, award-winning TV drama "The Homecoming" spawned the long-running series "The Waltons." Patricia Neal is superb as matriarch Olivia, who soothes her children's anxieties while dispatching John-Boy, winningly played by wholesome actor Thomas, to find their father. Cook's evocative, touching film delivers an important holiday message, underlining the importance of family love and solidarity over material possessions. An enduring Christmas staple — and deservedly so.