Debuted in 1991
Plot in 3 Sentences: On her way to spend Christmas at an orphanage, Ivy wishes for a grandmother and gets off the train in Mill Valley when she sees a sign that she thinks is meant for her. Wandering around the town, she admires Holly, a doll in the toy shop window who is wishing to be loved, and she helps the shop clerk when he loses his key. The local police officer takes her home and he and his wife end up adopting her, and the toy shop clerk brings her Holly as a thank you gift.
Fun Fact: This special was presented by Children’s Television Workshop as part of the Ronald McDonald Family Theater and opens with Ronald McDonald reading the story to the Fry Guys.
My thoughts: This special is based on the 1958 book, The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden and follows the original plot very closely. The story moves back and forth between the viewpoints of Ivy and Holly and their separate wishes for love, with occasional glimpses into the lives of those around them. We get to see that Officer Jones and his wife never had children and, although it isn’t spoken, I get the idea that they always wanted them, so it makes it even more gratifying when they adopt Ivy in the end. And Peter, the shop clerk, wants to be given more responsibility, so you feel his sense of panic when he loses the store key. Overall, I really liked this special, which was new to me this year. It has an old-fashioned charm and the animation is lovely. A lot of folks objected to Ronald McDonald as a host, stating that it turned the special into a commercial, but he is actually promoting reading in both appearances, so I don’t see anything objectionable about that.
Individual Superlative: Misleading Title – Let’s be honest here. Holly & Ivy’s wishes changed their lives and the lives of the Joneses, but Christmas itself wasn’t changed at all. I call false advertising!
Want to Watch it? The Wish that Changed Christmas is available on YouTube.