"Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life."
- Mark Twain
Edward Asner stars along with Maureen Stapleton in this 1977 Made-for-TV Movie The Gathering, a touching story of one family that has been basically estranged from each other and especially their father for several years. Many years ago Adam Thornton (Asner) had a happy, robust family with his wife Kate (Stapleton). They had four children - two boys and two girls. Their New England home was always filled with Christmas merriment. Then one day, years ago, Adam decided he wasn't happy with the situation and left. From then on he has barely had any connection with his wife and children, and absolutely no connection to his youngest son who moved to Canada to avoid the draft.
Now, Adam is facing something unexpected. He is dying. With only a couple months left he takes a look at his life and decides he wants to patch things up with his family - if it isn't too late. His first plan is to take a long trip to visit each one of his children, but when that is vetoed by his doctor, Kate comes up with a better idea. She invites the entire family to come home for the holiday and share one last family Christmas in the house in which they all grew up. But Adam insists they not be told that he is dying. He refuses to be the object of pity.
This is truly a heartfelt story centering on family. It should make every viewer take stock in their own relationships. Are little disagreements worth holding grudges and possibly damaging relationships? Shouldn't we be able to forgive and forget - especially when it comes to family? After all, we only have one family and as the saying goes, blood is thicker than water.
No one knows how long they will be alive. The Gathering puts that point front and center. It emphasizes the fact that we should love and cherish each other. Sure, we can have disagreements, but when it comes down to the heart of the matter, at the end of one's life are those disagreements that important? Think about that.
The Gathering is a heartening family story of pride, forgiveness and especially love.