The Thanksgiving Treasure

As I’ve mentioned before, Autistic people need routines.  Because of my Asperger’s Syndrome, a change in a television lineup can cause anxiety to a degree.  For example, right now, when I write during the day, I generally have the television on low for some background noise.  I keep it tuned to channels where there are shows that I’ve already seen.  Because of my audiographic memory, I already know what’s happening, so I don’t need to pay attention, and the bit of noise helps me relax.  However, usually starting just after Halloween, they change the lineup and put Christmas movies on.  And to make matters worse, they aren’t even good Christmas movies.  So when that happens each year, I actually feel anxiety at the change and how it breaks up my routine.

So for today’s Throwback Thursday, I want to talk about my favorite childhood holiday movies.  When I was a kid, around October, there were a few nighttime movies (called specials back then) that were themed for the holidays that I just loved, so I didn’t mind the interruption to my routine.  I couldn’t wait each year for Fat Albert’s Halloween Special and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  (In fact, I loved the Charlie Brown specials that were peppered throughout the year for each holiday.)  And I absolutely adored those Christmas specials that featured the claymation characters, such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman.  (I even had a Frosty the Snowman story LP.)

But my favorite set of holiday specials were those that featured the character Addie Mills.  These specials included Addie and the King of Hearts for Valentine’s Day, The Easter Promise for Easter, The Thanksgiving Treasure (sometimes called The Holiday Treasure) for Thanksgiving, and The House Without a Christmas Tree for Christmas.  They were TV movies based on books of the same titles by Gail Rock.

THIS was the construction paper house that morphed into the real house.

And THIS was the real house.

In these movies, a young girl named Addie Mills (played by Lisa Lucas) lived with her father (played by Jason Robards) and grandmother (played by Mildred Natwick) in Nebraska during the 1940s.  In each of them, there is usually some conflict between Addie and her father, and the grandma is caught in the middle.  I liked these stories because like Addie, I, too, lived with my grandma.  And I liked them because they were set just post the Great Depression era, and because I lived with my grandparents, I always heard their childhood stories about that time.  And I also liked them because they were just good storylines.

This is actually a still from “The House Without a Christmas Tree.”

But the reason I loved these movies the most had absolutely nothing to do with the characters, or the setting, or the plots.  The thing I loved most about these movies was the minute and a half opening.  In each one, a woman, the grown up Addie Mills, told us that she was grown and moved away now, but when she was a child, she lived in this house…  And while she spoke, we could see a pair of hands assembling a house made of construction paper.  And by the time she was done speaking, the construction paper house morphed into her real house and the story began.  The opening was the same for all four movies.  You can see the transformation here:

When those movies came on, I ran like my bed was on fire to get as close to the TV as I could.  (Back then, we weren’t allowed to get too close.  I’m sure they thought the radiation would stunt our growth or something.)  I watched ever so closely as that paper house was assembled.  And as soon as the first commercial came on, I ran to my room and brought back all my art supplies and tried to create a perfect version of my own house for the duration of the movie.

Then I got frustrated because my paper house did not nearly resemble my actual house as closely as the one on television did.  (I was barely six years old.  I had no idea that the TV artist actually worked from a photo.)

Remember the TV Guide?

The Thanksgiving Treasure was about Addie befriending a lonely, old man who was actually the hated enemy of her father because the pond the man dug for Addie’s father leaked.  I won’t give away the end in case you are inclined to go get the DVD and watch it yourself, but I will warn you that it’s a tearjerker.

Talk to me:  What was your favorite childhood holiday movie?  Do you start decorating for Christmas just after Thanksgiving or well into December?  Do you get irritated that stores start stocking Christmas merchandise around the end of summer?


31 thoughts on “The Thanksgiving Treasure

    • I actually feel that way about most movies, because once I’ve seen them, I remember them vividly and don’t necessarily want to sit though them again. But as a kid, I think when these movies came, that meant a visit from Santa was around the corner and that was always exciting! 😀 These days, there aren’t many Christmas movies I like, except all of Tim Allen’s Santa Claus movies and of course Elf.

  1. As a kid, we put up the Christmas tree Thanksgiving evening and didn’t take it down until New Years day. With my own family, we don’t typically have a tradition that we go with. Sometimes we’ll decorate Thanksgiving weekend but sometimes we wait until the first week of December. My husband takes everything down a day or two after Christmas, though. And yes, it drives me crazy to go into a store in August/September and see Christmas stuff. I feel it elongates and takes away from the season. As for my favorite movie, I loved (and still do) The Santa Clause with Dudley Moore. It’s old, but it tells the story of how Santa Claus became.

    • I haven’t seen that one. I like the Christmas tree up Thanksgiving night and down New Year’s Day tradition, though I don’t do it myself and we only did that sometimes when I was a kid. I also like the “cut down your own tree on Christmas Eve” tradition, though I only did that once as a kid. 🙂

  2. Oh yes, I am always astounded at how quickly after Halloween, the stores are ready to shove Christmas down are throats. By the time Christmas is here it feels like it should have been over a month ago.

    Funny, I remember Addie Mills but I can’t remember ever actually watching the series.

  3. As one who has little time for mid winter (inc. Christmas) I find the drivel they put on UK TV most irksome and certainly I am vexed at the shops stocking up with Christmas stuff from late September onward. Then again I’m a miserable old git who wishes all those – like my wife – who enjoy the festive period a jolly good time!

    • Well, my, my, aren’t we a Scrooge? I’m actually a bit (LOT) of a downer this time of year, but I try to keep the positive front up to be around other people. Though I absolutely can’t stand a few of my regular TV channels that show nothing but Christmas movies from Halloween through Christmas! I think one holiday movie a week is more than enough and I probably wouldn’t even watch that many. I would prefer to watch holiday-themed episodes of my regular TV shows.

      • Agree – when it’s cold, mid winter and everything shuts because it’s Christmas I go crazy. We generally Christmas alone as we got into the habit when living miles away from family in our Dartmouth days so at least I don’t have to pretend to others I like Christmas – whereas Shirley and George absolutely love it!

      • Your other kids and grandkids don’t come over? Do you cook a big or special meal? Maybe if you mix things up, you’ll enjoy it more. Such as go spend it in Paris. Or hide their gifts and make them go on a scavenger hunt to find them, then enjoy watching them be perplexed. Or wear funny hats and socks and disguise glasses. 🙂

      • Over the years they got into the habit of doing stuff with their mum – and after all I was miles away in the South West. Basically in the run up to Christmas we might have friends round for dinner yet on Christmas Day we have a rule that each of us chooses their own favourite meal – whatever it is – and we eat that. For example last years Shirl had quail; me a fresh herb omelette and G had penne with grated English Cheddar cheese on it! Sounds boring but we enjoy it – also we’ve not put any weight on after the event!

  4. Weirdly I don’t really have a favourite holiday movie. I feel left out!
    I don’t know when Thanksgiving is (and I can’t be bothered to Google the date) but I decorate a week or maybe two before Christmas. And I hate it that shops have Christmas goods in so early. It spoils the whole “specialness” of Christmas for me.

    • Thanksgiving here is always the fourth Thursday of November (so the actual date varies). The nice thing about that is that most businesses always give the employees off the Thursday AND the Friday after. Sadly, when Christmas is a weekend, people don’t often get extra time off. Or if it’s a weekday, they often don’t get an extra day off, but maybe sometimes a half day for Christmas Eve.

      • Thanks! We don’t have Thanksgiving, but at my company we get a half day on Christmas Eve, and if Christmas/Boxing Day fall on a weekend there is an extra public holiday to make up for it.

  5. I’m drawing a blank on the favorite holiday. Maybe the Fourth of July. I liked that a lot. As for Christmas stuff coming early, my favorite depiction of it is the one where the Ingles family were snowed so deeply that they had almost nothing including food. Even so, everyone had something special to give to other family members. Those little tokens meant something. And that is, in my opinion, what is wrong with Christmas now.

    • Little House on the Prairie? I loved their Christmas episodes. (Of course, I love all their episodes.) And I definitely agree with your perception of what is wrong with Christmas these days! To be sure! 🙂

  6. I never watched any of the Addie Mills series, Rachel. Must have been a boy-girl thing. But, oh, how I loved to devour TV Guide from cover to cover every week. 🙂 Thanks for that Throwback memory with your highlights box photo.

  7. I don’t remember the Addie Mills shows at all, Rachel!. They sound like something I would have liked. We celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah–don’t do a lot of decorating for either (but I do have a bunch of menorahs). When the girls were little, they always loved when the holidays came at the same time. Our dining room was the Hanukkah room, and the living room was the Christmas room. We never get a tree until a few days before Christmas. I hate that Christmas stuff comes out in the stores around Halloween, or before.

    Christmas movies–my younger daughter and I love “Love Actually.” Also, older movies–“It’s a Wonderful Life,” and “Holiday Inn” (except for the now painful-to-watch February black face scene). For some reason, when my now grown daughters are around at Christmas, we usually watch the newer versions of “Little Women” or “A Little Princess.” I guess they both have winter/Christmas scenes.

    • All of the Addie Mills shows are on DVD except for the Valentine’s Day one (for whatever reason). They’re really good if you like period pieces. My best friend is half Jewish and she does the same thing – one room for each. I love when people can come together and combine their traditions and beliefs so beautifully. 🙂

  8. ‘Meet Me in Saint Louis’ with Judy Garland is one of my all time favorite holiday movies – and it covers so many holidays (Halloween, Christmas, Easter). A great movie. Margaret O’Brien is priceless as Judy Garland’s youngest sister – very funny. And if for no other reason, it’s worth watching to see and hear a young, beautiful Judy singing ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.’ CLASSIC.

  9. I have so many classic holiday movies–many animations, such as Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer, A Garfield Christmas and A Charlie Brown Christmas 🙂

  10. Pingback: In My Easter Basket… | Rachel Carrera, Novelist

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