The Christmas Tree is a animated Christmas short, directed by Flamarion Ferreira, who coproduced through his animated studio with Renato Almeida, that was released directly-to-video by LIVE's Family Home Entertainment on September 11, 1991. It also only aired in a one-time broadcast on USA Network on December 14, 1991.
In a small town in the far north, an orphanage is run by a cruel and corrupt woman named Mavilda. She subjects the orphans to strict rules and prevents them from having toys or new clothes. She squanders the orphanage's donated funds while gambling with her friends and tricks the mayor into thinking she is a good manager. The orphans cope with this situation by bonding with a pine tree they have named "Mrs. Hopewell", which they believe to be their magical friend.
The situation improves when a new family, the Kindles, moves to town, and the mayor assigns the mother, Judy, to a position as Mavilda's assistant. She, along with her daughter, Lily, and son, Pappy, live at the orphanage while her husband, Ray, temporarily lives elsewhere for his new job at a lumber mill. Judy does chores while Lily and Pappy are treated the same as the orphans. Lily and Pappy befriend the orphans while Judy cares for them in her spare time. Judy helps them take care of a stray dog named Licorice that the orphans had previously taken in and have been hiding from Mavilda. Judy, Lily, and Pappy also decorate Mrs. Hopewell with a slide and swing.
When Christmas arrives, the mayor visits the orphanage and gives a large amount of donated funds to Mavilda so the orphans can receive new clothes and toys for Christmas. He asks Judy to help Mavilda shop for clothes. That night, Judy, Lily, and Pappy explain to the orphans what Christmas is about, while Mavilda gambles away the donated money. The next morning, Mavilda tells Judy that they are not going to go shopping and that the orphans will no longer be allowed to play outside (since Mavilda does not want the mayor to see them without new clothes). Mavilda worries that Judy knows too much about what is going on in the orphanage. She decides to frame Judy for stealing something from her friend, Mel, while visiting his house on an errand so that the mayor will force Judy out of the orphanage. She also decides to have Mrs. Hopewell cut down so the orphans will not want to play outside anymore. One of them overhears her talking about her plans and goes to warn the others. Desperate, they decide that Pappy should go to the North Pole in a sled pulled by Licorice in order to ask Santa Claus to save Mrs. Hopewell.
Due to traffic, Judy can't reach Mel's house, so she drives back to the orphanage. Meanwhile, Pappy discovers that Lily hid in the sled so that she could come along to help. When a bear attacks them, Lily falls down a slope and is separated from Pappy and Licorice. After Judy returns to the orphanage, Mavilda uses Lily and Pappy's disappearance as justification to fire her. When Mavilda and her friend, Frank, are about to cut Mrs. Hopewell down, Judy gathers the orphans to form a human chain to protect it. When the mayor arrives, Mavilda goes out of sight. Pappy and Licorice return and the former informs Judy and Ray (who returned from his lumber job) about what happened to Lily. Judy and the orphans tell the mayor that Mavilda was going to cut Mrs. Hopewell down. He sees the orphans' poor-quality clothes and wonders what happened to the money he has been giving to Mavilda. She appears and grabs the chainsaw from Frank in order to cut Mrs. Hopewell down. Before she can do so, however, a bolt of lightning comes from it and strikes her, sending her flying off to the side. Santa flies into the scene in his sleigh, and Lily is with him. The mayor declares Mrs. Hopewell to be protected city property, and offers Judy the job of managing the orphanage. However, Ray suggests that they adopt the orphans. Mavilda appears and looks forlorn. Judy approaches her and welcomes her to join in the Christmas festivities.
The narrator reveals that Mavilda now works as Judy's assistant in the orphanage. He also says that she is good now, and that "you always win when you are good".
Home media releases
|Elly Drygas||Lily Kindle|
|Ayal Kleinman||Pappy Kindle|
|Karen Drygas||Judy Kindle|
|Paul Whyte||Ray Kindle|
|Helen Quirk||Mrs. Mavilda|