Growing up, The Andy Griffith Show was a TV Land staple in my house. Many of the iconic sitcom's episodes still stand out in my mind as classic television. Who could forget the one about Aunt Bee's pickles, the heartwrenching "Opie the Birdman" or one of the many hilarious appearances by The Darlings or Ernest T. Bass? But the episode that's guaranteed to make me teary-eyed everytime is the Christmas episode "The Christmas Story," which aired during the show's first season.
"The Christmas Story" centers on ornery, Scrooge-like department store owner Ben Weaver (Will Wright), who catches Sam Muggins (Sam Edwards) selling moonshine. Weaver demands that Sheriff Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith) lock up Muggins -- even though its Christmas. Andy doesn't want Muggins to spend Christmas without his family, so he "locks up" Muggins' wife and family and throws a Christmas party in the county jail with Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier), Opie (Ron Howard), Deputy Barney Fife (Don Knotts) and Andy's girlfriend Ellie Walker (Elinor Donahue).
In addition to the sweet story line, the episode is memorable for Andy and Ellie's beautiful rendition of "Away in a Manger." As they're singing, Ben Weaver is seen peering through the window and singing along. Cue the waterworks!
It soon becomes clear that the curmudgeonly Ben Weaver is actually just a lonely man who wants to spend Christmas with friends. He attempts to get himself arrested through a series of misdemeanors. When Taylor realizes what Weaver is doing, he invites the man inside to enjoy the holiday party. But first, Weaver arrives with a suitcase full of gifts for the whole party.
It's a reminder that kindness and understanding goes a long way -- especially during the holidays.
In 2015, CBS aired "The Christmas Story" in color as part of "The Andy Griffith Show Christmas Special," which also included "The Pickle Story."
The Andy Griffith Show ran for eight seasons on CBS from 1960 to 1968. The TV series was in the top 10 for its entire run. Each year, Griffith's hometown of Mount Airy, N.C. hosts a weeklong "Mayberry Days" celebration.