A Mountain Homecoming: Then and Now

Musing a bit while watching The Homecoming:  A Christmas Story (1971), a CBS “family movie” that preceding the long-running television show The Waltons.  I stumbled on this while surfing old television shows.

I don’t mean to sound naive and I don’t mean to sound cynical, but as I watch this, it is clear to me that a show like this would not be made today.

Set in the Appalachian Mountains during The Great Depression, The Homecoming is a wholesome string of vignettes about good people doing good things with happiness and purpose.

I have to believe that a 1971 audience understood that this film was an idealized fable about family, tradition, and folk wisdom.  That doesn’t escape me.  And perhaps a fair share of people then would have thought it a sham.  Nonetheless, The Homecoming depends on a nostalgia for what the story is about, not the reality, and it couldn’t work unless there was some respect — and even desire — for the values of the film.

Nowadays our stories about the mountains come packaged in shows like Appalachian Outlaws or Duck Dynasty.   Somehow those shows don’t convey the same sense of community and respect that we see in a film like The Homecoming.  How things have changed in such a short time, barely a generation.

Just thinking.  Nothing else.


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