The Berenstain Bears' Christmas Tree is a 1979 Christmas television special based on the Berenstain Bears series of children's books, and notably the first animated production based on the franchise. It was adapted as a storybook a year after its original airing.
It is Christmas Eve in Bear Country, and the Bear family is busy getting out all of their Christmas tree decorations, with the most notable decoration being an excessively glittering eighteen-pointed star, and now the only thing they need is the tree. As Papa and the cubs get ready to go out and get one, Mama instructs them to go to Grizzly Gus's tree lot and buy a tree from him, and that they need to return quickly, since there is likely a snowstorm tonight. Papa, however, foolishly believes there is no chance of a snowstorm, and he also refuses to buy a tree from Gus's lot, instead insisting on going out into the mountains to cut down a tree. Accompanied by the cubs, Papa vows that he will find the perfect tree even if it takes him longer than it should (despite Brother and Sister pointing out that Christmas is tomorrow).
They soon find a magnificent-looking fir tree, but just as Papa is about to chop it down, Sister notices that the tree is home to a skunk, some squirrels, a grouse, and a chipmunk, plus twenty-six crows who are paying rent there. The animals in the tree are not at all happy about Papa trying to cut down their home, so he and the cubs immediately run off, with Papa not realizing that if he had cut down the tree, he'd be forcing those animals out of their home on Christmas Eve. As it starts snowing, Papa and the cubs find another great-looking fir tree on a cliff, but this time, it is the home of an eagle, a hawk, a wolf, and an owl, and they too are not pleased with Papa's attempt to destroy their home on Christmas Eve. After narrowly avoiding an attack by the eagle, Papa, Brother, and Sister continue on through the mountains, despite the fact that it is now snowing really hard.
After climbing their way through the snow-covered mountains, Papa and the cubs find a third perfect-looking tree. This time, however, Papa takes a good look at the tree and sees a little window on the trunk. Inside, there is a family of little birds who look just like the Bear family, decorating a small twig like a Christmas tree, and they are perfectly happy about it. Upon seeing this emotionally-charming sight, and after the bird family wishes him a merry Christmas, Papa has a change of heart and decides not to chop their house down. Turning to the cubs, Papa says that he has now learned that Christmas is a time to think of others. When Brother and Sister ask what he is going to do about their own Christmas tree, Papa says that they shall just go buy one from Grizzly Gus like Mama told them to, and then chops a nearby tree stump to make skis for them.
Unfortunately, when they finally make it back down the mountain, they find that the tree lot is now empty and closed. But when they return home, they find that all the animals they encountered have decorated the tree that the Bears live in to thank Papa for sparing their homes earlier. As the Bears are awestruck by the kindness shown by their fellow animals, they notice the Star of Bethlehem suddenly appearing in the sky over their house. All the other bears in town come and see the Bears' decorated tree-house, during which they all sing about how Christmas inspires them to love nature's creatures great and small.
The earliest known VHS release of the special was put out by Kids Klassics in 1989. It was released on VHS again by Goodtimes Entertainment in 1992, this time accompanied by another special, The Berenstain Bears Meet Bigpaw.
The special was released on DVD in 2008 by Sony Wonder. The DVD also included four episodes from the 1980s Berenstain Bears cartoon - "The Ice Monster", "Learn About Strangers", "Forget Their Manners", and "Get Stage Fright" (the last three of which were all adaptations of stories from the books).
|Ron McLarty|| Papa Bear|
|Pat Lysinger||Mama Bear|
|Jonathan Lewis||Brother Bear|
|Gabriela Glatzer||Sister Bear|