This episode has the noble theme of being unselfish and helping the poor. But it’s hard to stay engaged with the theme when the main character, Annie, isn’t very likeable. Mr. Whittaker clearly has a passion for helping those less fortunate. This reinforces our positive view of Whit but, unfortunately for Annie, this is contrasted against Annie’s lack of compassion.
Annie is bored on the day after Christmas and is no longer playing with her toys. Since I often received Adventures in Odyssey albums for Christmas, I find it hard to relate to this problem because my presents would usually last much longer. But it’s not just that Annie is a new character and our first impression of her is that she seems selfish, it’s how exaggerated her selfishness appears. She doesn’t like the color of her coat and wants to return it. She rattles off a list of presents from memory and isn’t interested in any of them. The audience is trying to follow Whit on his little adventure but Annie just has to tag along so she can inevitably learn an important lesson. Couldn’t she do that on her own time if she’s going to be so bothersome about it?
Of course, she complains for the whole car ride to Foster Creek. Then she runs into the Locos, a pre-Bones of Wrath gang who have nothing better to do than chase people off their “turf.” Annie’s fear of this poor neighborhood seems to be justified by the presence of this gang but even more so by the presence of Mrs. Rossini, an angry and bitter cat lady.
One of the best moments of the episode, however, comes from Mrs. Rossini. She uses a story about taking the bandage off her cat’s foot to illustrate how God is in control no matter what, even when it hurts. Whit’s not the only one who can come up with object lessons. She also talks about how her husband died and her savings were wiped out by medical bills. Compared to Annie everyone in this episode is a sympathetic character, but no one more so than Mrs. Rossini.
When the Locos return once again Mrs. Rossini and Annie are conveniently rescued by Whit. The sheriff takes the gang into custody. But for some reason Whit insists that Tommy and Annie need to pay for Mrs. Rossini’s broken windows. This seems odd considering the gang members who broke the windows have been captured and presumably charged.
After the Christmas meal Tommy remarks how he’s so stuffed that he may not eat for a week. In any other context this might have seemed like a normal joke, but considering Tommy’s low economic status it doesn’t sound appropriate. By the end of the episode Annie is no longer as focused on herself as before. But if the audience doesn’t care for her from the beginning it’s difficult to care very much about her eventual change of heart. She comes across as annoyed for no reason, which is annoying. Because of the character of Annie, this episode gets 1 out of 5 stars.