And, uh, speaking of "loopy"...
Nellie wants the pony. She starts in on Nels to buy it for her, but Laura says it's not for sale. Nellie heckles Laura because she doesn't even have a saddle.That doesn't last long though, because Nels manhandles Nellie to get inside the mercantile, and then continues hanging festive construction paper chains.
Back at the little house, Pa explains Christmas to Carrie. You know, the star and Jesus in the manger and all that.
Later that night, Laura and Mary are in bed counting their savings.
Downstairs (oy - down...ladder??) Pa is counting his secret stash of coins hidden in his fiddle case, and Ma sneaks a peek into her hiding spot in the baking soda can (or something).
The next day while doing laundry, Mary asks Ma what Pa would like for Christmas. Ma says something special would have to be homemade. My first thought is: "Naw, that sucks", but Mary is struck with inspiration.
The Ingalls family takes a trip to the mercantile, which is totally decked out holiday-style.
The Ingallses slink around the mercantile like a family of spies, each one trying to get an idea of what everyone else is interested in. Mary checks out the yardgoods - plain and fancy. Ma prefers the woodstove. But it's $7.87. Way too much... waaaaay too much. And who doesn't remember Carrie loving the Jesus star?
Mary and Laura go wait outside while Ma and Pa finish up. And one more hat shot. I love how Mary's is all sticking up like some kind of two-tone wintertime mane.
I guess the next day, Mary comes in after school and wants to play a guessing game with Ma. Ma despises guessing games, and shuts Mary's "I bet you can't guess" down with a quick: "You're right, dear, I can't." Pa comes in, and Mary asks permission to go work with Mrs. Whipple, the seamstress. "I sewed her I can show!"
The next day, Laura wants to ride Bunny into town while the rest of the family goes in the buggy. Pa asks if she's doing it to make Nellie Oleson jealous. Well, that's not the only reason. Pa decides that no commandments are being broken, so Laura can go for it. Yeah, forcing someone else to covet isn't nice, but it isn't illegal.
In town, Mary takes off to Mrs. Whipple's to start working. The Whipp has a man-sized shirt on her dressmaker's mannequin. It's going to be Pa's Christmas gift from Mary.
Meanwhile, Ma goes into the mercantile first, alone, to buy the yardgoods to make a shirt for Pa. She chooses the identical fabric that Mary is already using, natch. What a disaster.
Laura goes into the mercantile next, and whispers a deal to Nels.
Meanwhile, Carrie has found a penny among her possessions, so Laura takes her to the mercantile to spend it. Nels is practicing good customer service in the flannel shirt department with Mrs. Foster when the girls arrive. He leaves Mrs. F alone for 2 seconds to help Carrie, and Mrs. F takes off saying she can find better stuff in Mankato.
Soon after, Pa delivers the wheels to Nels. Man, he can't even get a second of relief from this family. Pa wants to put his wheel money toward the woodstove. Aha, but Pa wasn't the only Ingalls who noticed Ma had been admiring it. Nels hedges. He says it's sold. He desperately tries to sell Pa something, anything. An imported clock. A knickknack stand. That would set off the house real well. Yeah... no.
Suddenly, Pa is on snowshoes in a snowy field with his gun. This snow looks pretty legit. Not like the massive snowfall in that blizzard episode where Miss Beadle sends all those kids out early to their untimely deaths. Or like 90% of all the snow on Little House on the Prairie, which usually looks fake as hell. I've got some magazine-type books from the 70s and apparently the worst thing about being an actor on this show was wearing the wardrobe in the California heat. And, like, pretending it was winter while your face was melting off.
The girls dance while Pa fiddles until they're interrupted by a Christmas delivery from Nels Oleson. Of course, Pa thinks the giant box is the stove (yes) that he ordered (no).
On Christmas morning, everyone opens presents. Pa opens the scarf Laura knitted. There's gingerbread for Jack from Santa. Mary got a fur capelet. Carrie has a new beaded necklace. Mary pre-threatens Pa as he's about to open her gift: "You better like it because I made it."
Pa holds up his shirt, and Ma incredulously checks under the tree to see if her gift to Pa is still there. Two matching shirts? It can't be. Ma secretly takes her parcel and hides it.
Now, the famous Gift of the Magi scene. Pa made Laura a saddle. But... she's sold her horse to Oleson for money to get the stove for Ma. God, it just makes you want to die. Laura hugs Pa with tears in her eyes and the whole family is still none the wiser about what she's done.
Ma can't wait any longer, and starts busting into the giant box with a hammer.
"Oh! It's a stove!" From Laura??
Right then, the Olesons show up to collect Bunny, the horse. Um, shock to Ma and Pa. Ma is devastated that Laura sold her beloved animal just to buy a Christmas gift. Laura tearfully hands over the pony, then goes back inside where she tells Pa she's so sorry about all the work he did on the saddle.
There's one gift left for Pa to open. It's the star that Carrie bought. They put it on top of the tree. "Happy birthday, baby Jesus!"