You may have guessed, this is not your average family movie night. This is a night with options.
Not only do you have your choice of holiday episodes of this long-running show, but maybe you will choose to read from Laura Ingalls Wilder's books instead. A Little House Christmas Treasury: Festive Holiday Stories is a compilation of all the Christmas stories from the books. Whichever you choose, you won't be able to help feel warm and fuzzy while the Ingalls family celebrates the season.
Growing up, this show was a weekly treat for me. I soaked in the episodes, and later the books. I tend to gravitate to it more at Christmas time now, as I take more time to savor traditions from my childhood this time of year.
I was so excited to introduce my daughter to the Ingalls family. So when “Little House On The Prairie, A New Musical” came to town with the original Laura (Melissa Gilbert) playing Ma, I was so excited.
My mom and I took her to the show set in the 1880s. As we left she was amazed. “I can't believe people lived like that,” she mused. “Was that what it was like when you were growing up, mom?”
Aghast, I said, “That wasn't even what it was like when Grandma was growing up!”
But I grew up looking back at the past, she had not. So that Christmas she got the first season on DVD. And I dug up my old books.
So if you haven't introduced your family to this show, Christmas offers a wonderful opportunity to do so. Here are a few episodes to choose from:
Season 1, episode 15 - Christmas at Plum Creek
Season 3, episode 11 - Blizzard
Season 8, episode 11- A Christmas They Never Forgot
Little House: Bless All the Dear Children (Post-series movie special, 1984)
And then expect your little ones to have questions! There is no better way to relate to people that lived in such different times then to try your hand at some of the very things they did.
Of course our Family Movie Night series always include activities. If your children want even more, there are two wonderful books you might want to ask Santa for:
- My Little House Crafts Book: 18 Projects from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House Stories by Carolyn Strom Collins
- The Little House Cookbook: Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Classic Storiesby Barbara M Walker
Here are some of my favorites activities inspired by the Ingalls:
Make an Apple Pomander
In Little House in the Big Woods Laura Ingalls Wilder writes, “Aunt Eliza had brought Ma a large red apple stuck full of cloves. How good it smelled!”
If you have never smelled this combo, it does smell like the holidays.
All you need is a ripe, red apple and lots of cloves! You stick the cloves in the apples in any design. I made these as a child, and I remember it was a little tough to get the coves to pierce the apple skin. Someone recently suggested making holes with a BBQ skewer stick and then sticking the cloves in.
We would keep a bowl of these in the kitchen during Christmas. And Laura was right, how good it smelled, indeed.
Molasses Snow Candy
Also in Little House in the Big Woods, Pa brings in two buckets of fresh snow so Ma and the girls can make Molasses Snow Candy! Here is all you need:
1 cup dark molasses
½ cup brown sugar
Combine molasses and brown sugar in a saucepan until it boils. Reduce to a medium-high heat and cook for 5 minutes. To see if your candy is ready to be “snowed” drip a small amount in a glass of cold water. If it forms a ball, you are ready to pour. If it dissolves, cook for another minute and try again.
Transfer to a spouted measuring cup that won’t melt.
The snow can be in a wide mouthed bowl. Drizzle the mixture into “little streams on to the snow”. That takes some practice, don't worry if you get some globs at first. Laura and Mary made “circles, and curlycues, and squiggly things” with their syrup.
The mixture will harden quickly on the snow. Store on layers of wax paper.
I know what you are thinking. Eww, vinegar?? But stay with me here. I tried this a few years ago because I have a slight vinegar obsession. And now it is a family favorite. It tastes nothing like vinegar. The closest thing we have found to compare it to is the holiday pie at McDonalds. Around here we say it tastes like Christmas.
These were also popular in the Depression Era because they are cheap to make. I have heard this referred to as a “Make Do” pie where a family would see what was in their pantry and make do with what they had while managing to create something sweet.
I have used the recipe from the Little House Cookbook and it was wonderful, but I came across this great blog that I wanted to share as an additional resource for families that would like to try a few other activities. So this recipe is from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup water
2 eggs (at room temperature)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
pie pastry, prepared
What to do:
1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
2. Line the bottom of a pie pan with the pie crust. Crimp the edges.
3. In a medium-sized bowl, combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix well.
4. Stir in the water, eggs, butter, and vinegar. Mix well.
5. Pour the filling into the pie crust and bake for 35-40 minutes.
6. Serve at room temperature.
For proof that Santa is real, pick up one of our magical Santa Proof Kits.