Last year, millions tuned in to watch the true story of Dolly Parton‘s childhood unfold in the TV film, Coat of Many Colors. Based on Parton’s song of the same name, the movie was centered around themes of family and faith.
That theme continued through the film’s highly-anticipated sequel Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love, which debuted on NBC on Wednesday night (November 30). While the original movie was released around Christmas time, the sequel actually takes place during a special Christmas during Dolly’s childhood.
***WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW***
The film opens with young Dolly (Alyvia Alyn Lind) praying she’ll be cast as Mary in her school’s Christmas pageant. Her prayers are answered, and she convinces her teacher Miss Moody (Mary Lane Haskell) to cast her best friend, Judy (Hannah Nordberg), as Gabriel the angel. However, this causes a conflict between Dolly and Judy, because Judy didn’t want to have such a prominent part in the play. Dolly and Judy spend the rest of the film fighting as they try to understand one another, before they finally apologize and reconcile at the end.
While the Parton children prepare for their Christmas pageant, their parents, Avie Lee (Jennifer Nettles) and Robert (Ricky Schroder) work on saving up enough money to buy each of their children one store-bought present. Secretly, Robert also wants to buy a gift for Avie Lee…the wedding band he could never afford to give her.
After Robert learns that the wedding band Avie Lee wants is more expensive than he can afford, he calls on his children to make some sacrifices. They give up their one Christmas gift so Robert will have more money to buy the wedding band. Many of the kids also work odd jobs to earn more money, including Dolly, who plays her guitar and sings out on the street corner in town.
Dolly’s uncle Billy (Cameron Jones), who has connections with the country music industry, comes back for a few visits and recognizes Dolly’s talent. He tries to convince Robert to let Dolly come with him to pursue a singing career, but Robert quickly shuts him down.
This leaves Dolly feeling disappointed, but she continues to perform on the street, where she meets the “Painted Lady” (Dolly Parton). Dolly admires the beautiful woman’s appearance and fine clothes, and sees her many times throughout the rest of the film.
Robert eventually comes to the realization that he won’t be able to afford Avie Lee’s wedding band, even after all of the sacrifices his children made. Against Avie Lee’s wishes, he makes the decision to go to work in the coal mines in hopes of earning enough money.
While Robert is away, Dolly manages to buy her mother’s wedding band and one for her father as well, thanks to Miss Moody. She gave the storekeeper a treasured broach that had been in her family for generations, hoping it would cover the cost of the bands, and it did.
In the days prior to Robert’s departure, Avie Lee had been having visions that she and all of her children would freeze to death alone in their tiny cabin while Robert was away. These visions soon became a scary reality, when a massive blizzard swept through, leaving the Parton family trapped inside. As their food and firewood disappeared, Avie Lee continued to stay strong in her faith as she feared the end was near for her and her children.
But in what can only be described as a miracle, the sun came out and thawed the snow so the family could leave their cabin. At the same time, Robert returned home to his family, after he was nearly killed in an accident at the mine.
The film ends on a happy note, with Robert and Avie Lee exchanging their new wedding bands as the entire family enjoys Christmas together.
Just like Dolly’s first film, Christmas of Many Colors was centered on themes of faith and family. But perhaps the most prevalent theme in the film is sacrifice. Almost every character has to make some sort of sacrifice for someone they love. The Parton children sacrifice their Christmas gifts for their mother, Miss Moody sacrifices her broach for Dolly, Robert sacrifices his safety for the woman he loves, and so on.
It is through this theme of sacrifice that Christmas of Many Colors captures what the true meaning of Christmas is all about. As Dolly said in an interview about the film’s real-life story, “So many times we do forget, we just think Christmas is about presents and getting together, and just eating food,” she said. “And it is about all that, but it’s about love, and acceptance, and forgiveness.”
The characters in Christmas of Many Colors showcased all of those feelings throughout the film. For them, it wasn’t about what they received at Christmas, but what they were able to give. The characters’ selfless actions should serve as a testament to all of us every holiday season. Whether we donate to charity, volunteer, or simply perform an act of kindness for someone in our lives, we should give a little piece of ourselves to brighten someone else’s day.
Within recent days, Dolly has proven that she practices what she preaches. As wildfires have consumed East Tennessee, the area where Dolly grew up and where her Dollywood theme park is located, Dolly has reached out to those who have lost their homes. In a video message, Dolly revealed that she will donate $1,000 dollars every month for the next six months to all of the families that have lost their homes in the fires.
If you’d like to contribute to Dolly’s campaign to help those affected by the fires, you can do so by visiting her Dollywood Foundation website here.