Movies like “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Story” imbue the Midwestern spirit; but what if some of our other holiday favorites took place in the land of North Dakota Nice? Would “A Christmas Carol” be as magical if it took place in Jamestown and not London? Let’s find out.
The entire McCallister family has gathered at Peter and Kate’s home in Casselton before flying off to spend the holidays with Grandma and Grandpa in Phoenix. Peter wakes up early to snowblow his elderly neighbor’s driveway, accidentally knocking out power to his own house in the process. The snowblowing takes longer than anticipated because he ends up clearing all of the driveways in the neighborhood, and when he gets inside is shocked to realize the alarm clocks have not gone off and everyone is still asleep. Everyone throws on their favorite Bison sweatshirts and piles into the car; everyone, that is, except Peter’s son Kevin, who is sleeping in basement craft room.
Kevin awakens to find himself alone. He hops on his Ski-Doo and rides to the house of his best friend, Owen, a few blocks over. After a brief discussion and hearty breakfast with Owen’s family, Owen’s father decides the best thing to do is to fly Kevin down to Arizona in his cropduster. First, however, he calls his own mother and father, who are also in Phoenix, to ask them to relay this plan to Owen’s grandparents, who live in the condo next door. Kevin and family reunite safely in Phoenix, have a wonderful vacation, and return home to find kuchen on the counter from their neighbor and everything else as they left it. The End.
Sequel: HOME ALONE 2: LOST IN THE MALL OF AMERICA
After his mother dies, a little baby named Buddy sneaks into Santa’s sack and is whisked off to the North Pole, where he is adopted and raised as an elf. Buddy learns the truth of his humanness as an adult – although the signs were there, including exclaiming “Uffda!” every time he hit his head on the too-short ceilings – and decides he will travel to Bismarck, North Dakota to meet his biological father, Walter Hobbs.
Outside of a long stop at the Canadian-American Border because he forgot to declare the bag of Christmas oranges he had tucked away in his jacket pocket, the journey from the North Pole to Bismarck is relatively uneventful. Buddy immediately feels right at home in Bismarck; the weather is just like up at the Pole, after all (har har), and the people and houses are decked out in Christmas cheer. Buddy finds Walter working at the Capitol, and the two have a happy meeting because hey, family is family. Buddy’s dad takes him home to meet the rest of the extensive Hobbs clan, who all live in the Bismarck-Mandan area and are equally thrilled to meet Buddy. They spend a happy Christmas Eve volunteering at the Great Plains Food Bank, after which Buddy hitches a ride on Santa’s sleigh to spend Christmas night with his adopted dad. From that point forward, Buddy split his time between the North Pole and Bismarck, later settling down with a nice girl from Dickinson.
Sequel: BUDDY GETS A BOOTH AT PRIDE OF DAKOTA
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Ebenezer Scrooge is the proprietor of Scrooge & Marley Credit Union in Grand Forks. He surprises his lone employee, Bob Cratchit, with ESOP papers, further cementing their good working relationship. Scrooge & Bob close up early on Christmas Eve to deliver presents, toiletries, and dinner to the Northlands Rescue Mission before parting ways until after the New Year. After a brief stop at Target, Bob returns to see his son, Tim, who is recovering from a slight cold. For his part, Scrooge goes to bed early in anticipation of Christmas dinner and supper at his brother’s house. As he sleeps, he is visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, who fill his mind with happy memories and wish him well in the coming year.
NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION
The Johnson family – Eddie, Catherine, Rocky, Ruby Sue, and their dog, Lutefisk – are packing up their RV in Churchs Ferry to visit their cousins, the Griswolds, in Chicago. Catherine calls Ellen Griswold one more time before they take off to let them know they are on their way; North Dakotans aren’t ones for pop-ins, you know.
In Chicago, they are astounded to find the Griswolds have covered their house in 25,000 Christmas lights. As the Griswold father, Clark, is about to turn on the lights, Eddie realizes that the electrical load will overtake the system, and quickly MacGyvers a breaker to protect the neighborhood. The display is a success; although the light load disturbs Todd and Margo, the Griswold’s next-door neighbors, causing them to drop their Evian water bottles. Eddie offers them a thermos of North Dakota water as a peace offering.
Inside, Eddie, part of the Churchs Ferry volunteer fire department, recognizes the Griswold’s Christmas tree is a little dry. He advises Uncle Lewis to smoke outside and waters the tree. Better to be safe than sorry (wink).
Christmas dinner goes off without a hitch, thanks to Catherine’s helpful hands and generational Jell-O mold. After dinner, Clark admits to Eddie that he was disappointed to not receive a bonus check from his boss so as to build a swimming pool in the backyard.
The Johnsons leave Chicago the next day – no one wants to overstay a welcome, you know. Eddie is slightly perplexed as to why Clark would want a pool that can only be used three months out of the year, but vows to return the following Christmas with enough boards and poly to build the Griswolds a sweet little backyard rink.
Detective John McClane of the Minot Police Department is traveling to Fargo to reconnect with his estranged wife at her company office party on the 3rd floor of the Loretta Building. He arrives to find the party, and the building, taken over by terrorists from Sioux Falls – who are demanding $100,000 pp(anything more would be a little excessive, don’t you think?) and the wood chipper from the movie, Fargo. Not wanting to bother the Fargo Police Department, McClane presents himself, along with a flask of Red Eye and a 12 of Grain Belt, to the terrorists as a negotiator. McClane and the lead terrorist, Hans, work out their differences quickly (there may have also been a few boxes of Chippers involved), agreeing to forgo the money and wood chipper in place of a free showing of Fargo and unlimited popcorn at the Fargo Theater.
The entire group (office workers, former terrorists, McClane), head out to the rooftop deck for a celebratory polka. The dancing gets a little over-enthusiastic, and Hans falls over the edge of the building. Fortunately, it was a short fall, and he is quickly patched up over at Sanford and able to return to the party. Meanwhile, McClane and his wife get back together because hey, polka.
Sequel: DIE HARD 2: WILLISTON AIRPORT
Merry Christmas! From Amanda (and my husband, Kyle, who wrote this with me on the way to Saskatchewan)