Ep.11 - The Best Christmas

  Original Airdate: December 9, 1976
Writer: John McGreevey
Director: Lawrence Dobkin


  Olivia believes this may be the last Christmas for the whole family to be together but weather conditions threaten to keep the family apart.


  "On Walton's Mountain every Christmas was memorable. Each new year held some special surprise or delight that set it apart. But I think the one we all remember most fondly was what was planned to be our mother's best Christmas. It began with the quickening sense of wonder and astonishment that always accompanied the first snowfall."



It is one week away from Christmas and snow has arrived on the mountain. Elizabeth breaks ice in the water bucket for Chance the cow while Jason and Jim-Bob throw snow balls at each other. Olivia and Grandma bake cookies for Christmas in the kitchen. Olivia worries that this may be the last Christmas together now that the children are growing up. She wants it to be the best Christmas ever. John-Boy and Ben work on the next edition of the newspaper. Elizabeth walks in and suggests that they try and make it the best Christmas ever for their mother.

Mary Ellen and Curt have plans to see his parents this Christmas but are conviced to stay to celebrate with Mary Ellen's Mama. Grandma and Grandpa go into Charlottesville to visit with Maude Gormley. The Godsey's have placed their tree in the front of the shop for all to see. It is a special Christmas for them as it is their first with their daughter Aimee. She is amazed at how many presents are under the tree even though Santa hasn't arrived yet.

John and Jim-Bob bring the freshest and nicest Christmas tree into the living room for Olivia. Meanwhile Zeb and Esther sing carols with Maude. Zeb decides to extend their stay with a pot of tea. The roads though are starting to become icy.

John-Boy has gone to see Professor Parks who is expecting a New York publisher to arrive that he wants John-Boy to meet but due to road conditions is delayed. John-Boy leaves to pick up Erin from the operator switchboard. She is stranded at her station because Fanny Tatum hasn't returned to relieve her from the operator board.

Zeb and Esther try to make it back but have to turn around due to the road conditions. They end up sleeping in the lobby of the Jefferson Arms hotel. At home the power goes out.

Jason has been practising the Christmas carols on the church organ. Just as he leaves a large branch crashes through the roof of the church threatening to cancel the Christmas morning service. John, Ike, Jason and Rev. Fordwich work to clear the debris and cover the hole.

Harley Foster flags John-Boy down near Drucilla's Pond where Fanny Tatum and her niece Jo Ellen have gone off the road with their car and into the freezing water. They try desperately to break them out of the car. Verdie, Curt and Mary Ellen also arrive to help. They finally get the door open and take them to the Foster's home.

Ben has gone to Yancy’s to offer his Christmas greetings but has become stranded at Yancy’s house with all the farm animalstrying to stay warm inside the one room shack. He has given Yancy a pipe holder and Yancy is so touched by the offer he digs out an unused shoe polish kit in return. Ben feels the pressure to return home and finally Yancy decides to walk him back.

It seems that no one will be home for Christmas after all. Jim-Bob arrives with Patsy Brimmer arrive for dinner but find an empty house with the food still on the stove. They decide to go back to her home. When Olivia and Elizabeth finally arrive they are alone to decorate the tree themselves but Elizabeth falls asleep in her chair leaving Olivia all by herself.

Curt and Mary Ellen work to prevent Fanny and Jo Ellen from receiving frostbite damage. Verdie has given John-Boy and Harley dry clothes while they wait for the others to recuperate.

Finally the next morning Grandma and Grandpa arrive back from Charlottesville to find the rest of the family in the living room. They celebrate by singing a carol.


  "Next morning the Waltons were altogether again, in reality as well as in spirit. Only a few years later, when circumstances kept some of us in the hedgerows of Normandy, or on Christmas duty in the emergency ward of a big hospital, our memories of Mama's best Christmas helped to comfort and sustain us."

Episode Notes & Interesting Facts:

  • Yancy's dog is named Earl.

Additional Cast:



Joe Conley (Ike Godsey), Ronnie Claire Edwards (Corabeth Godsey), Tom Bower (Curtis Willard), John Ritter (Reverend Fordwick), Lynn Hamilton (Verdie Foster), Hal Williams (Harley Foster), Robert Donner (Yancy Tucker), Sheila Allen (Fanny Tatum), Paul Jenkins (Professor Parkes), Lisa Lyke (Jo Ellen), Debbie Gunn (Patsy Brimmer), Merie Earle (Maude Gormley), Rachel Longaker (Aimee Godsey), John Heistand (Radio Announcer)


Music from this episode:

Jason practices the organ at church and Maude Gormley, Zeb and Esther sing "Jingle Bells"
John, Rev. Fordwich, Ike and Jason sing "Go Tell it on the Mountain" while fixing the roof of the church.
The family sings "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day"



Promotional Stills


Behind the scenes image

Kami Cotler as Elizabeth Walton on the set of The Waltons

Kami Cotler prepares to film the opening scene with Chance the cow in "The Best Christmas". Kami reports "I remember breaking the "ice" in the bucket, which was really made of wax. The snow is plastic flakes." Also visible in this image are the camera operator on the far left, the director Lawrence Dobkin sitting in front of the Panivision movie camera and the livestock wrangler in the cowbay hat.




Here is a Christmas video we made that includes scenes from this episode.

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