This 1989 classic is one I don’t hear much of and that is a darn shame. It is in my top five favorite Christmas movies. Sad to see it fall into ’80s obscurity.
Jessica Riggs lost her mother to illness. Her father (Sam Elliot) struggles to run their farm since he is buried under medical bills and he is raising his two kids on his own. He misunderstands his daughter as much, if not more, than the rest of the town. One day, when Jessica walks home with a friend, a reindeer Christmas decoration falls into the street. Jessica realizes that it is Prancer and she worries although her friend no longer believes in Santa and his reindeer.
Soon, a real Prancer shows up and Jessica tries to help it. She brings over a local veterinarian and buys it food with money that she has to earn by doing odd jobs for the crabby old lady neighbor. She even goes to see a department store Santa and gives him a letter about Prancer. Though she tries to keep it a secret, the fake Santa gives the letter to the local newspaper and suddenly the whole town knows. Her father sells Prancer to earn some money for his struggling farm and Jessica tries to rescue the animal only to get injured. The town rallies behind her as she gets better.
Cloris Leechman also stars as the crabby neighbor with a tragic past who learns from Jessica how to be part of the community again.
Don’t worry, though. The ending is happy and, like most holiday movies, things have a way of working out in the magical end. Real Santa doesn’t make an actual appearance, but there is enough in that ending to make you a believer. Cute movie to watch with your kids or as an adult (as I do).