Submitted by Tornado Dragon
John ultimately decides to not send Jessie to live with her aunt Sarah, and he helps her take Prancer out to Antler Ridge since she had written a letter to Santa promising to bring him there at midnight on the morning of Christmas Eve so he can pick him up and be able to deliver his gifts the next night. After arriving there, Jessie tearfully says goodbye to Prancer and thanks him for everything, and then he leaps out of the truck and runs down a clear path in the woods towards the cliff.
Jessie chases after him, with John following behind, and when they reach the cliff, they can’t find Prancer anywhere. They then see that his tracks end at the edge, which means he either jumped to his death….or flew. John tells Jessie that maybe they’ll hear the bells on his collar, and moments later, Jessie hears those very bells jingling. She soon looks up at the sky and sees a stream of light heading up to meet a silhouette of Santa’s sleigh just as it passes by the moon and take the missing third place in the line of reindeer, proving that the reindeer really was Prancer. Jessie waves goodbye and asks him to remember her. The film ends with (presumably) a first-person view of Santa flying over the town in his sleigh until he makes his first stop at Jessie’s farm.
Jessie (Rebecca Harrell) eventually writes a letter to Santa saying that she has been looking after Prancer and includes a Polaroid picture of the deer as proof, then adds instructions for him to come to Antler Ridge at midnight on the morning of Christmas Eve because she will bring Prancer there, and that way, he can come get him and be able to deliver his gifts the next night. She gives her letter to Mr. Stewart (Michael Constantine) while he is working as a Santa at the local mall, believing him to be one of Santa’s helpers. He reads it in private, and after being charmed by its contents, he turns it over to the editor of the town’s newspaper.
The editor ends up writing a story about Jessica’s letter and puts it in the paper the following day, and many people read it and learn all about Prancer. When Jessica goes to church with her brother Steve (John Duda) and aunt Sarah (Rutanya Alda) that same day, the priest eventually talks about the newspaper article and brings up Jessica’s name, and Jessica realizes that her secret is a secret no longer. After she and Steve check out the article for themselves once the service concludes, they hurry home. Meanwhile, Prancer gets out of the shed Jessica has been keeping him in since she didn’t properly close and lock the door before she left, and he soon lets the horse and cow out of the barn. Jessie’s father John (Sam Elliott) sees the horse walking around before he can read the article on Jessie, and as he tries to round up the animals, a bunch of the churchgoers show up hoping to get a glimpse of Prancer. They soon draw John’s attention to the inside of the house, where he sees that Prancer is in there and making a mess of everything. He goes inside just as Prancer steps out and retrieves his shotgun from his room, but when he goes to shoot the reindeer, the butcher Herb (Mark Rolston) halts him and offers to buy Prancer from him for $200, and John agrees to the sale. Jessie and Steve return home a short time later and see the destruction Prancer caused, and John curses Jessie for telling lies and hiding the reindeer and informs her that he just sold him to Herb. Jessie tries to convince her father of her belief that the reindeer is Prancer, but he doesn’t believe her in the slightest, and she despairs over Prancer possibly being cut up and eaten.
However, rather than make venison steaks out of Prancer, Herb decides to put him in a big cage and use him to boost sales of the Christmas trees he sells next to his shop. Jessie comes by the next day and is saddened to see Prancer in this situation, and John finds himself having to deal with people demanding to know why he sold the reindeer. That night, Jessie makes plans to bust Prancer out and then run away with him, since John wants to send her to live with Sarah and she is against it. She writes a goodbye note to her father before leaving the house, but as she goes, Steve catches her, and he learns about what she is planning to do after questioning her multiple times. He tries to convince her to not run away, but ultimately decides to help her free Prancer after seeing that she will not be swayed. As Steve is trying to break the lock on the cage door, Jessie heads up to the roof and pries it open, believing that Prancer should just be able to fly out. However, Prancer doesn’t do anything of the sort, leaving her very disappointed. Suddenly, the town’s sheriff Bert (Michael Luciano) stops by on a routine check, and Steve hides in the trees on the lot while Jessie walks out onto a tree branch next to the cage. She soon loses her grip and finds herself dangling from the branch, and after Bert departs, she tries to pull herself back up, but the branch breaks and she falls to the ground and hits her head, knocking herself out. Steve runs off to get Bert, and then Prancer kicks down the cage’s door and rests his body next to Jessie’s to keep her warm until help arrives. Jessie gets out of the hospital the following day, but she is disheartened because she now believes that Prancer is just an ordinary reindeer.
Later that day, John is checking on Prancer when Bert and a deputy approach him, and Bert accidentally reveals to him that there is a surprise party for Jessie being put on by him and a bunch of the townsfolk at her house tonight. That night, Jessie looks out of her bedroom window and sees the townspeople singing Christmas carols to her in the front yard, and Sarah invites them all inside. John goes up to talk to Jessie and first apologizes to her for not having much to give her this Christmas due to the financial hardships that he is dealing with, then he shows her her book of Christmas stories that he found in the shed. After Jessie has him read the ending paragraph from the classic letter “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”, she cries and tells her father that she never truly wanted to run away; she just wanted him to find her and bring her back home and tell her things are going to be okay, like they used to be. John replies that he wishes he could tell her things are going to be all right, but he knows that things are always going to be hard around the farm and they might even lose it someday. However, while he can bear that, he can’t bear not having her around, which he got a taste of when she disappeared last night. He tells her he loves her and they have a tearful embrace, and he officially states that she is staying put. He then shows her that he has Prancer in the back of his truck, having tracked down Herb and given him his money back. He then puts her in the truck and takes her and the reindeer to Antler Ridge, since midnight is drawing near.
After arriving there, Jessie tearfully says goodbye to Prancer and thanks him for everything, and then he leaps out of the truck and runs down a clear path in the woods towards the cliff. Jessie chases after him, with John following behind, and when they reach the cliff, they can’t find Prancer anywhere. They then see that his tracks end at the edge, which means that he either jumped to his death….or flew. John tells Jessie that maybe they’ll hear the bells on his collar, and moments later, Jessie hears those very bells jingling. She soon looks up at the sky and sees a stream of light heading up to meet a silhouette of Santa’s sleigh just as it passes by the moon and take the missing third place in the line of reindeer, proving that the reindeer really was Prancer. Jessie waves goodbye and asks him to remember her. The film ends with (presumably) a first-person view of Santa flying over the town in his sleigh until he makes his first stop at Jessie’s farm.