"Days of Christmas Past: 1966"
Head Writer: William J.
Bell



Episodes # 281-284: A Few Snippets of Christmas
Air Dates: December 14-December 19, 1966


PRESENTS:

Tom and Alice discuss Christmas presents. Alice tells him she wants to be surprised. He teases her about negligees and she says she doesn’t need that. Then he asks if she’s going to asks what he wants for Christmas. She tells him his gift is already bought, wrapped and ready to go. They talk about getting a tree tonight because Julie won't be there to celebrate with them. He asks about Julie’s plan on staying in Paris. Alice says that she thinks she’ll stay longer. Tom then breaks the news about Bill planning on leaving for Baltimore for his residency with John Hopkins.

COOKIES: 
 

Alice: Before we do anything else-Christmas cookies.

Marie: I was beginning to wonder if you’d forgotten.

Alice: No. It wouldn’t be Christmas without them. At least to me it wouldn’t.

Marie: It wouldn’t to any one of us, Mom. For as long as I can remember, you’d get out the cookie cutters and we’d make gingerbread men, little Christmas trees and stars and snowmen. And all the kids from the neighborhood would be over. And we’d still have enough to last us halfway through January.

Alice: (beat) Such wonderful memories.

Alice mentions to Marie that Julie and Addie are going to be in Europe for Christmas. (Jason47 Note: The Horton house phone number is mentioned: 366-8120).


TRADITIONS: 

Marie is wrapping Christmas presents. She tells Julie about them moving up the Christmas tree trimming for her because she’s going to miss Christmas in Salem. They talk about traditions being important:

Marie: Mom and her Christmas cookies. Dad—picking out the tree each year, the family trimming it. A fire in the fireplace during the holidays. Everyone gathering around Christmas Eve for Christmas carols. Then midnight services. Eggnog when we get home. Ice skating on the creek Christmas afternoon.


      
Macdonald Carey...Frances Reid...Marie Cheatham...John Clarke.....Edward Mallory.....Susan Flannery.....Charla Doherty.....Wesley Addy
Tom Horton.......Alice Horton......Marie Merritt......Mickey Horton.......Bill Horton.........Laura Spencer.......Julie Olson........Dr. Eric Cooper


Episode # 285: The Horton Ornaments Make Their Debut!

Air Date: Tuesday, December 20, 1966


ACT ONE:

(Int. Horton Living Room. Early evening. This is the night the Horton family will put up their Christmas tree. Open with Tom, Mickey and Marie in the room. Nearby are boxes with lights, ornaments, tinsel—no new boxes except possibly replacement lights. The ornaments are varied, each steeped in tradition. Mickey is holding the tree somewhere at the middle—and make it a big tree, please. Tom, on his hands and knees, has inched his way through the long needled branches and is trying to get the base of the tree secure into the stand. Marie is back a few steps, ready with a discerning eye, to tell all assembled when the tree is straight and upright. Inevitably, Tom is having much difficulty. They are all realistically involved in the problem—They do not play the scene broadly. Open with pictures.)


Mickey:
Dad, why don’t you let me do that?

Tom: Someday, Mickey—and this is a promise—I’m going to invent a Christmas (struggling with tree stand) whereby with a simple adjustment or two—the tree will stand upright.

Mickey: Why don’t I hop in the car and pick up a new stand if this one is giving you trouble?

Tom: For your information, we have an attic filled with Christmas tree stands, old and new alike, none of which work.

Mickey: Sounds like it's time you cleaned your attic.

Marie: Mickey, why don’t I hold the tree and you get down there and help Dad.

Mickey: What you’re saying, Sis, is that you’re not sure whether Dad has the Christmas tree, or the Christmas tree has Dad.

Tom: Somehow I don’t find that very funny.

Mickey: (beat as Mickey tries to look through the branches at his Dad) Marie—(Mickey motions his sister over. As Marie approaches, Tom says:)

Tom: Wait! I think I’ve got it.

Mickey: Whoops. Stay right where you are, Sis.

Tom: All right, Mickey, let go and we’ll see what happens.

(Mickey lets go and the tree stands firm. Firm and slightly crooked.)

Mickey: Very good.

Marie:  No. A little bit crooked.

Tom: Which way?

Marie: It’s leaning toward the right.

Tom: Your right or mine?

Marie: Mine. Your left. (Tom maneuvers it somewhat) There, Dad. Hold it—that’s--. No, you went a little too far.

Tom: (Makes an adjustment.) How’s that?

Marie: Looks fine to me. What do you think Mickey?

Mickey: You know, of course, Dad, that the trunk has a little curve to it.

Tom: But does it look straight?

Mickey: Hmm, I suppose as straight as any tree with a curved trunk can look.

Marie: Don’t pay any attention to him, Dad. It’s fine.

(Tom now crawls out from between the branches, stands up, looks it over.)

Tom: I don’t know about the two of you, but I think it’s a very pretty tree.

Mickey: One of the nicest.

Marie: It’s beautiful.

Tom: (looking at it critically) As for that curve in the trunk—

Mickey: It’s not as noticeable as all that.

Tom: When the lights are on, ornaments, tinsel, you won’t even see it. Well, let’s say the rest of us won’t see it. But you being you, Mickey, probably will.

(Bring Alice and Julie into the room, each carrying very carefully a strand of lights.)

Alice: These two strands are fine. Tom, where do you want them?

Tom: Over there on the couch for now. Well, Mrs. Horton, how do you like it?

Alice: (Beat) Oh Tom, it’s lovely. (beat)  But—it does look a trifle crooked.

Tom: It doesn’t to me.

Alice: Look from over here (And she is serious)

Tom: (he goes over, looks) No. Looks fine.

Mickey: Mom, maybe it’s just that your eyeballs are crooked.

Alice: (Gives Mickey a look, then back to the tree) What do you think, Julie?

Julie: Looks straight to me, Grandma.

Marie: (Who is now standing by her mother)  No, I see what Mom means. Mickey, don’t touch the tree—but move the stand clockwise—just a little.

Tom: Think you can manage it, son?

Mickey: I’ll do my best, Dad.

(Marie, Alice, and Julie watch critically from their vantage point. After Mickey moves it a quarter turn, both Alice and Marie say simultaneously:)

Marie and Alice: Stop right there, Mickey.

(He does.)

Alice: That’s fine, dear.

Mickey: Well, Dad, would you like to either agree or disagree with the ladies while I wait down here?

Tom: If it’s fine with the ladies, I’m not about to disagree. 

(Mickey comes out from under the tree as Alice goes to several more boxes of lights. Marie moves toward her mother as Tom looks at the tree.)

Mickey: Now that we have that little matter settled, what’s next on the agenda?

Alice: There’re more lights to be tested.

Marie: Julie, why don’t you, Mickey, and I finish them up?

Julie: Let’s do it in the kitchen. There’s more room.

(Amidst a few ad lib lines, Marie, Julie, and Mickey pick up lights, spare bulbs and next to kitchen. Alice looks toward her husband who, in a rather serious moment, is looking at his watch. A beat—she knows why he’s looking and immediately reflects his mood.)

Alice: What time is it?

Tom: After seven. A few minutes after.

Alice: Could something come up at the hospital?

Tom: Bill was off duty at six. There’re people on call to handle emergencies.

Alice: (beat) Tom, we’re going to wait. Ever since the children were old enough to help, decorating the tree has been something we’ve done together, as a family. It’s been a—tradition.

Tom: I’m—well aware of that.

Alice: Addie’s in Europe, she can’t be here. But Bill’s in Salem.

Tom: For now. Until the second of January. Alice, I can’t for the life of me understand that boy. Boy? A young man, a doctor—who could have every opportunity here—but he’s turned his back, he doesn’t want any part of me. It’s just possible that’s why Bill isn’t here tonight.

Alice: We’re going to wait, Tom.

Tom: (Beat) But not for long.

(Int. Coffee Shop at University Hospital. Small portion of coffee shop. Bill, who is in street clothes, is in deep and serious thought. An untouched cup of coffee sits before him. Establish. Then bring Laura into picture, also with coffee.)

Laura tells Bill she thought he left a while ago. Bill asks her if she’s on call and she nods. She asks why he is there at the coffee shop. He tells her he’s making the most important decision of his life.


ACT TWO:

(Take up immediately)

Bill asks if she can join him. Laura tells him she didn’t know if he wanted company. She sits and he stares into space, Bill breaks the silence to ask her a question. He asks her if her mind has ever been confused as to what to do in life. She tells him once when she had to decide whether to marry or go to medical school. She tells him about Doug, one of the most eligible bachelors in Chicago (according to the papers.) He was polite, wealthy, came from a good family. She thinks she loved him. Bill questions her about loving this man. She tells him that Doug wanted a wife not a doctor. That was the time her mind was “tied in knots” as Bill put it. She couldn’t decide to give up her career to be a wife. Bill asks her if she would have married him if he left her keep her career. She thinks she probably would have married him if that was the case. Then she tells Bill not too long after their relationship, Doug was married, to a stay at home wife and three kids. They then talk about the commitment both made as doctors to use their talents as best that can to serve the community. Bill tells her that he was so sure that he was going into internal medicine. Laura tells her that he knows why he’s torn. She’s seen him in the operating room. She remembers the day when he was assisting Dr. Cooper and he was right there, when Cooper asked for help. It was like second nature to him tying off veins that suddenly bled. Bill tells her that was the day that put the doubt in his mind about internal medicine, yet it also was the day he accepted the offer at John Hopkins and embark on an internal medicine residency. Now, he’s really not interested in that field. He asks for her advice. Bill is stuck and thinking he can't ask Hopkins to switch him to a surgical residency. Laura agrees saying it too late and he committed to internal medicine. He tells her that he just received the contracts for his residency. He doesn’t know what to do. Laura asks if he’s talked to his father. He hasn’t but he has a 7:30 appointment with Dr. Cooper to discuss his decision. He said it all started with a comment Cooper made to him about being a good surgeon. Laura tells him that all surgical residency openings have been filled at University. He just hopes that Cooper can give him some advice.


ACT THREE:

(Int. Horton Living Room. Marie alone by the tree, opening a box containing a dozen ornaments. She carefully removes one, looks at it. Bring Mickey into the room. He looks at her, and at the ornament.)


Mickey:
What’s the saying, Sis? They don’t make’em like that no more.

Marie: I wonder how long it took Grandma Horton to make them.

Mickey: A good long time, I’m sure. She finished them—just a matter of months before she died.

Marie: So—precious, every one of them.

Mickey:  Yes, that they are. I can remember the day she brought them over. You were still in pig tails. She said she wanted something of herself to be with us in years to come. Christmas was always her favorite time of the year. (beat) Someday those ornaments will be handed down to us.

Marie: (Beat) I don’t want that day to ever come, Mickey.

Mickey:  Nor do I.

Marie: I can’t imagine a Christmas without—Dad—or Mom.

Mickey: Hey now, enough of that.

Marie: I’m sorry. And yet—I do think of it from time to time.

Mickey: I suppose we all do—from time to time.

Marie: Too often, we take things for granted. They’re here and we just think they’ll be here forever.

Mickey: So what’s the answer? Except to make each day as full and as rich as possible, for them, for us.

Marie: (She nods, a beat) I wish that somehow we could impress that on Bill.

Mickey: Either it’s a part of him, Marie, or it isn’t.

Marie: Is Bill so different then the rest of us?

Mickey: He might have that impression—but fundamentally I don’t think he is. Our brother has his problems, as you and I have ours.

Marie: As simple as that?

Mickey: No. Maybe not.

Marie: I wonder if he knows how much he’s hurt Dad by his attitude.

Mickey: He’s not all that insensitive. He’d have to know.

Marie: Then why would he do it, Mickey?

Mickey: Sis, I can only assume that somewhere along the way—he’s been hurt, too. By Dad. Not that there’s any justification for his attitude. And yet—he must think so.

Marie: Mom said both she and Dad have thought over and over again what it could be. They don’t know. I just can’t believe, Dad being Dad, that he ever could have done anything, said anything—that would justify Bill’s attitude.

Mickey: Whatever happened, Marie, I’m convinced it was a long time ago.

Marie: (beat) You know, of course, that Bill’s going to be leaving here the second of January—for Baltimore.

Mickey: Yes, I know.

Marie: If he stayed here at University Hospital, he’d have to work under dad. From what Mom said, they feel that’s the reason Bill decided on John Hopkins.

Mickey: Marie, in all fairness to our kid brother, there could have been other considerations. Professional, I mean.

Marie: Do you believe that?

Mickey: I do think we have to allow for the possibility.

Marie: (Beat) As for the rest of us, we couldn’t have a more wonderful brother. Mom, a more devoted son.

Mickey: So what’s the answer?

Marie: I don’t know.

Mickey: (Beat as Mickey looks at his watch) I wonder what’s keeping him.

Marie: What time is it?

Mickey: Going on seven-thirty. Mom doesn’t want to start without him.

Marie: Of course she doesn’t. This has always been a—family project. And now with Addie in Europe—

Mickey: Sis, you don’t think, that Bill—just wouldn’t come?

Marie: No, Mickey. I’m sure he’ll be here.

Mickey: Where could he be?

(Telephone rings)

Marie: I’ll get it, Dad.

(Marie gets the phone. Early in conversation bring Alice and Tom into the room. Bill is calling from house phone outside Cooper’s office.)

Marie: Hello?

Bill: Marie, I’m sorry about not being there. Frankly, I had a lot on my mind and forgot about the tree until this minute.

Marie: Where are you?

Bill: At the hospital.

Marie: Will you be here?

Bill: I know I’m late already. But do you think you can hold things up—let’s say for another forty-five minutes or an hour? I would like to be there.

Marie: Of course we’ll wait, Bill.

Bill: I’m really sorry about this, Marie. Will you explain to Mom, sort of smooth things over for me?

Marie: All right, Bill. And we’ll look for you within the hour…Goodbye.

(During Marie’s final two speeches, with her in the foreground, be sure we see Tom and Alice react with warm smiles—Tom’s however, with a shade of reserve. Stay with Bill as he hangs up…(hospital corridor)…we see a very intense young man. Hold on him, then, hear footsteps approach from down the corridor. Bill looks toward the approaching footsteps, then bring Cooper into picture)

Dr. Cooper asks Bill if he wanted to see him. He answers that he very much wants to talk to him.


ACT FOUR:

(Int. Cooper's Office. Take up immediately from inside the office. Cooper goes to his desk, immediately begins reviewing several reports and memoranda and continues to during the early part of the scene. He doesn’t look at Bill until indicated.)

Dr. Cooper asks Bill to get to the point of this meeting because he has another lecture in thirty minutes and has to have time to prepare. Bill starts telling him about his residency at Hopkins. He tells him that he hasn’t signed the contract yet. Cooper is confused about the information and asks if he’s suppose to congratulate him. Bill tells him that he’s changed his mind and he wants to go into surgery. Cooper asks him how long ago he accepted this residency. Bill tells him a few days ago. Then Cooper mocks him by asking him when he’ll change his mind to Pediatrics, maybe the week after Gynecology? Bill tells him he won’t change his mind—he wants to be a surgeon. Cooper brings up his compliment that he gave Bill the other day. Did his compliment have anything to do with Bill’s new change of heart? Bill tells him that the compliment made his feelings come out to the surface. He calls it a realization. Cooper is really questioning him on semantics, but Bill insists that he’s definite on being a surgeon. Cooper gives him some facts—would he be here talking to him if he hadn’t passed on that compliment the other day? Bill tells him that he can’t be sure. Cooper is telling him that he’s putting one thing he mentioned in passing and turning his back on one of the finest hospitals in the country. Bill’s temper rises up and he tells him that damnit, he’s sure that he wants to be a surgeon and comments on how Cooper has been not paying attention to him and looking through papers. Cooper finally looks up at him as Bill is telling him that he doesn’t know how he’s going to do it, but he will become a surgeon and came to him for some advice. Bill tells him he shouldn’t have come to see him. Cooper tells him if he walks out of the office, he better not step into the surgical floor tomorrow. That stops Bill and then Cooper asks him what makes him sure he has what it takes to become a surgeon? Bill replays Cooper’s own words to him about not many interns having promise for surgery, except for him. Cooper says promise is not reality and that it doesn’t show capability. Bill tells him that he will be a great surgeon if not only to come back to him and make him eat the words he’s saying right now. Cooper tells him that he doesn’t know of the pressure of being a surgeon- split-second decisions, life and death, responsibility, loneliness that makes you scream. Then he asks Bill if that’s what he really wants? He answers, yes. Cooper tells him he’ll see what he can do. Bill looks at him and asks what he means. He tells him that he’ll call the Chief at Hopkins, who’s a personal friend, and try to get him out of his residency. Then he’ll see if they can add another surgical residency here. But he warns him, the day he sees him as weak, is the day he’s no longer in the program. He understands and Cooper tells him he needs to organize his lecture. 

(As Cooper digs in, doesn’t even look up as Bill leaves, take Bill at the door, one final look at Cooper, a look of hero worship here…fade out)


 
David McLean...Ron Husmann
Craig Merritt...Tony Merritt



Episode # 286
Air Date: Wednesday, December 21, 1966
Script Writer: John M. Young

ACT ONE

(Same night as preceding script. Int. Craig’s office, Hillcroft. Tony alone, putting ornaments, tinsel, etc., on a small table-size Christmas tree, now on the desk. He’s singing happily, more or less to himself, the carol “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Establish. He sings a verse or so. Then bring Craig to the doorway. Not in his uniform. He looks at Tony. Then)

Craig asks Tony about the tree. Tony tells him it's to get him in the Christmas spirit. He's noticed that he hasn’t been himself. Tony is sorry that they can’t spend Christmas together this year because Craig will be flying. Tony tells Craig he knows that he volunteered to be on call during Christmas. Craig tells him that some of the guys have kids, small ones. Tony tells Craig he understands and gives him the tree. He then tells him that he wishes he could put the tree in a house or apartment since he hasn’t bothered to look for a place to live. Craig tells him about the meeting he just had with the head of the airlines. He tells him that the airline is expanding to cargo and he’s signed up for it. He will be taking cargo to the Far East for the year. That's why he hasn’t bothered to look for a place to live. He’s trying to sell this opportunity as an adventure and for double the pay. Craig tells Tony that he leaves on December 31. Tony can't believe how fast this adventure is starting. Craig convinces Tony to take him out to dinner to celebrate.
 

(Tony goes out singing the song again. Take Craig, alone, drained of all bravado. Take him and the tree in closeup.)

(DISSOLVE TO: Int. Horton Living Room. Marie alone. The boxes of ornaments, etc. as they were when we last saw them in ACT III of the preceding script. She hears Craig’s words.)


CRAIG (recorded):
Won’t be long, will it, darling, before there’s another Christmas. Our first together, Marie. Just a few more months. Let’s see, we’ll put our tree over there, we’ll have a fire in the fireplace, plenty of egg nog—a Christmas neither of us will ever forget.


Marie touches her ring finger and talks to herself saying that she’ll never understand why Craig asked for a divorce. 
 

ACT TWO

(A moment or two later. Marie standing where she was, looking at the tree. Bring Tom into picture behind her.)

 

Tom tells Marie that he’s sure the tree is straight as an arrow. At least that’s what he thinking when he sees her staring at it. Then he tries to get her attention, but she’s lost in thought. He asks her what’s she’s thinking about and she tells him of Christmas. He asks past or present. She tells him future. Now the topic changes to Marie’s romantic entanglements. Tom notices that the times that she’s been out with Tony, she hasn’t come to “present” him to her mother or him. He tells her that he’s welcome here at the house. She thanks him and tells him that she wasn’t sure he was welcomed. She says she’ll wait a bit before bringing him around. She wants to know how Tom feels about Tony. He tells her he hasn’t formed an opinion. He says he trusts her judgment. Marie goes on to say that she knows that Mickey likes Tony but Bill has made it clear that he doesn’t. Tom tells her that his point is that it's her feelings that count most of all. She tells him that she feels strange. That last year, she would have given anything to marry Tony but now, she feels that has changed. She questions whether she’s changed so much in a year that she doesn’t want to marry him. Marie tells Tom that when Tony talks about marriage, she pulls away. Tom wonders if she’s afraid of what might happen. She shifts the conversation to Bill. She tells him that she was talking to Mickey about Bill. They have noticed his negative attutude towards him. Tom tells her that their disagreements are nothing serious. Marie brings up the fact that Bill’s decided to do his residency in Baltimore and all the decisions leading up to it. Tom tells her that he’s never met a son and/or intern who doesn’t want to upstage the “old man.” Marie says there’s more to it then professional rivalry and Tom may agree there’s more to it but tells her it is what it is. Alice walks in. Tom asks Alice if everything is ready for the tree trimming. She says that they’ll start when Bill gets home. Mickey is helping Julie with her luggage. Bill has just come in and greets everyone. He apologizes that they had to wait for him to start. Bill goes to his mother and kisses her and asks for forgiveness. She says there’s nothing to forgive. Bill welcomes Julie to her first tree trimming evening with the Hortons.

 

Bill:  Hi Julie. Welcome to your first tree trimming evening with the Hortons.

Julie: Thanks, Uncle Bill.

Mickey:  Evening, Doctor.

Bill:  Mr. Attorney.

Mickey:  And now, Mom, since everyone’s present and accounted for, what do you say we trim that tree?

Alice: (hands him the star) All right—you start this year, Mickey.

Mickey:  I start—

Bill:  (As Mickey puts the star up. The others get ornaments, etc., and move in to trim.) The tradition is, Julie, you hang them where you think they should go—and up to a point, you’re on your own.

Julie:  How do you mean, up to a point?

Bill: You’ll find out. (He starts singing a gay carol, such as “Deck the Halls”…stops..then) And sing while you work, Julie. (Julie joins in…all join in as they start trimming. Take Tom looking at Bill. A half smile, but underneath a little hurt. Then Tom joins the song, moves in to trim.)

 

ACT THREE

(A short time later. All hands busy. Alice, the mother, has definite ideas as to what should go where, so she more or less masterminds the operation, as tactfully as possible. Mickey is fixing the lights. Marie hanging striped candy canes. The others put ornaments, etc., on. A little humming, happy snatches of songs as they trim.)
 

Alice:  Julie—I think—that might go—a—

Julie:  It balances out with the other side, Grandma.

Bill: Remember—up to a point, Julie! (Laughs)

Alice:  Let’s try  it on the lower branch.

Julie: Here?

Alice: Well—yes, that’s fine for now.

Bill:  You nibbling at those candy canes again this year, Marie?

Marie: I’m saving them for later.

Julie: Aunt Marie wouldn’t eat the canes!

Bill: It’s a family joke, Julie—one Christmas when Marie was in rompers, she bit off the bottom half of every candy cane on the tree.

Marie:  And Mom made me eat every bite of dinner afterwards.

(Alice is changing an ornament here and there)

Tom: Come on now Alice—that looked fine.

Alice:  Darling—we have to make room for the others.

Mickey: Bill, shove that plug in the socket, will you?

Bill: Okay. (Bill plugs the cord in. The lights go on.)

Mickey: Well look at that, they all lit up.

Tom: For the moment, anyway.

Julie: This is a wonderful tradition, Aunt Marie.

Marie: The family never misses a year.

Julie: I cant begin to tell you how glad I am to be a part of it, all you’re doing for me.

Marie: You’re doing a lot for us, just being here.

Julie: I can never really thank you—putting up your tree early, a big Christmas dinner tomorrow night because I’m leaving for Paris.

Tom: Well, Julie, you can tell our oldest daughter something from all of us—

Julie: What, Grandpa?

Tom:  (gets ornament from his mother’s dozen) Tell her we’re hanging the ornament that was always her favorite, in its usual place. (Hangs it on front of tree)

Julie: It’s beautiful!

Tom: And, I think your mother will be glad to know, that despite the many changes in this world or ours, things are going along here pretty much the same.

(The lights go out)

Mickey: Correction, Julie. Make that exactly the same.

(Light laughter at this. Mickey will fix the lights, replace a bulb or whatever)

Julie: How long do you leave the tree up, Grandma?

Alice: We usually take it down on New Year’s Day. This year we may leave it up a couple days longer.

Julie: Why?

Alice: For your uncle Bill, until after he leaves for Baltimore.

(The lights go on)

Mickey:  How’s that, Mrs. Horton?

Alice:  Just keep them burning bright, Mickey.

Bill:  You know, Mom, you may not need to leave it up in my honor.

Alice: It was just a thought, dear.

Bill: I mean—it’s possible I won’t be going to Johns Hopkins after all.

(From here on, the trimming should not divert us in any way from the internal dynamics of the scene. It should probably stop entirely. Right now, with this from Bill, everything does stop.)

Tom:  (slight pause) What do you mean, Bill?

Bill: I may be taking my residency here at University Hospital, Dad.

Tom:  (just a wisp of a smile) Son, I’m not sure I understand.

Bill:  It’s the reason I was late getting home. Y’see, I’ve had this in mind, so I asked Dr. Cooper about it. He thinks it might work—that he might get me a surgical residency here.

Alice: Surgical? You’d stay in Salem?

Bill: That’s right, Mom—

Marie: I hadn’t heard of that.

Bill: No one in the family has until now, Sis. And it isn’t definite, nothing’s settled.

Tom: But you want this, son.

Bill: Yes, I do.

Tom: You’ve seen Cooper, gone that far.

Bill: Yes.

Tom:  I wonder if I should have seen this coming. I’ve been aware of the interest you showed in surgery lately. But I didn’t realize you’d given it any serious thought.

Bill:  I know what I’m doing, Dad.

Tom: I wish you well, son.

Bill: (pleased) You realize of course there are a couple of pretty formidable roadblocks before it can happen.

Tom: How formidable?

Bill: Well, I’ve already made a commitment to Hopkins. Theyre not going to like my pulling out.

Tom: No, I’m sure they won’t. Yet we both know they shouldn’t have any trouble filling the post. What else, Bill?

(Take Alice, pleased with what she’s seeing. Father and son are close to touching)

Bill: Dad—there’s the problem of a place being made for me here.

Tom: What did Dr. Cooper say?

Bill: He seemed optimistic. That’s as far as he could go.

Tom: Bill—if Eric Cooper runs into any trouble—well, just know that if I can help in any way—

Bill: Thanks, Dad. I appreciate that. (beat) I mean it.

(Father and son have, for this moment, almost touched. And for the first time Tom shows his gladness. This is not an all out enthusiasm and thoughts are going through his mind, thoughts he’ll express to Alice later on. All have seen their closer rapport)

Mickey: Look, Doctors Horton, are we going to finish this tree or aren’t we?

Bill: Sure, let’s get at it. 

(Bill and Tom exchange glances. The others see it.)


ACT FOUR

 

(Same night, much later. Except for the tree lights and a fire in the fireplace, the room is dark. Tom and Alice are seen only by the dancing light from the fire. Take Tom alone, on the couch, looking at the tree, deep in thought, smoking his pipe. Take this picture, it should be a beautiful one. Then bring Alice in, in her robe. She stops, looks at the picture, comes and sits beside her husband. For a long moment, there’s no need for words.)

Alice:  It’s the most beautiful tree we’ve ever had, Tom.

Tom: You say that every year. Each one is the most beautiful of all.

Alice: It’s true—and oh Tom, the children never outgrow the feeling of being a family. Darling, this is the nicest evening ever in so long.

Tom: I’m sure part of it is Bill, his announcement he might not be going to Baltimore.

Alice: Of course I’m happy about that. I’m a mother.

Tom: I know, darling.

Alice: (beat) Tom—

Tom: Mmm?

Alice: What do you think of Bill going into surgery?

Tom: If this is what he wants, by all means it’s the course he should follow, though I won’t deny I was more than a little surprised.

Alice: I could see that you were.

Tom: As far as I remember, Bill’s talked internal medicine. But these things happen. Suddenly, you change—you see what you want—and there’s no more important decision for a doctor.

Alice: He seems hopeful that Dr. Cooper will be able to get him out of his commitment with Hopkins.

Tom: Yes, Bill seems to think he can. I think he will, of course it would have been simpler, earlier. No matter now. (beat) I just didn’t sense this was in the wind.

Alice: Well, if you had known, dear, you’d have said the decision was up to him.

Tom: It was Bill’s decision of course. Still—I might have advised him if he’d come to me. Helped my son, in some way.

Alice: (senses Tom’s disappointment) Tom—I felt tonight that you and Bill were closer then you’re been in years.

Tom: I guess it did look that way, Alice.

Alice: It was that way.

Tom: I wonder. If I were to be realistic, I could say that Bill is a somewhat desperate young man—

Alice: Desperate? You can be that realistic?

Tom: To put it another way, he desperately wants something very much—he’ll take support, assurance from any quarter.

Alice: I don’t believe that.

Tom: Then what do you believe?

Alice: I want to believe that tonight is the start of a real relationship between the two of you.

Tom: (smile) Darling, if that’s what you want to believe, then by all means, you believe it.

Alice: Don’t you?

Tom: I think we’ve talked enough about our children for one evening.

Alice: We’ve really only talked about Bill.

Tom: There’s not too much to say about Mickey, he’s his usual gregarious self. As for Marie, I think she’s coming along better than we might have hoped. And as for their mother---you know, Mrs. Horton, I’m very fond of you… (kisses her) fact is, I’m in love with you.

Alice: I love you, Dr. Horton. Fact is, I loved you long before you got your M.D. (beat) Remember the first year we had a Christmas tree of our own?

Tom: A tiny thing—

Alice: Dreamed of a home of our own—then Addie and Tommy were born—

Tom: Then Mickey—Bill—Marie—and family evenings like the one we’ve just had.

Alice: With something to remember about each and every year. (Beat, then soberly) I wonder how many more Christmases we’ll have, Tom.

Tom: What kind of talk is that?

Alice: Honest talk, realistic.

Tom: You know, Mrs. Horton, one of these days I’m going  to get you to the office for a thorough going over, and get these ideas out of your head.

Alice: Oh, I feel fine, Tom.

Tom: Then enough of that kind of talk. All right?

Alice: All right, darling.

Tom: (Puts his arm around her, looks at her, take a beat) Thank you, Alice.

Alice: For what?

Tom: For all the years, a family, a home, and your love. Thank you, darling—and –Merry Christmas—1966.

Alice: Thank you, Tom—and—Merry Christmas—1966.

(They embrace)

COMING SOON: Episode # 287!