In a year filled with numerous losses and many challenges, Days of our Lives gave its viewers one of the show’s most anticipated episodes – the Horton clan gathering to hang ornaments on the family tree.
Bill Hayes and Susan Seaforth Hayes Shine
While this year’s ceremony included many newcomers, for various reasons, the episode was anchored by veterans Bill Hayes (Doug) and Susan Seaforth Hayes (Julie), who infused the holiday show with tradition, family, love, and a heartfelt message. The duo’s uplifting performances earned them the latest Performer of the Week honors for DAYS.
Before the ornament hanging ceremony began, Doug and Julie had a bit of matching-making to do. They lured estranged lovebirds/expectant parents Eli (Lamon Archey) and Lani (Sal Stowers) to the Horton homestead, determined to get them back together before their babies were born.
Eli quipped that he wasn’t going to get under the mistletoe with Lani, but Doug sagely advised “hold that thought, kiddo.”
While the ceremony has been an SRO (standing room only) event in past years, this year’s was kept to a smaller group, most likely due to COVID-19 precautions. Also present were Robert Scott Wilson’s Ben, and newcomers Cady McClain (Jennifer), Allie (Lindsay Arnold), and Claire (Isabel Durant).
Thus, when Doug explained the origins of the ceremony, he made an impact not only with the audience and the other characters, but also on the performers new to the show.
Before the last ornament was hung, Doug and Julie succeeded in both reuniting Eli and Lani, and convincing Jennifer that she should give Jack (Matthew Ashford) another chance. The joy these two DAYS vets expressed over making this accomplishment was infectious.
Susan Seaforth Hayes shared with attendees the importance of why they had all gathered. “To remember, to celebrate those we lost, those who came before us, those wonderful, wonderful people who taught us to share our joy, our sorrows…” she said.
“Let us never forget,” the actress added, “it’s love that sustains us. That’s why it’s so important to cherish each other right now. Speaking for myself, I have been blessed with the most perfect husband any woman in the world could wish for. We have been blessed with so many years of happiness…
“So, let us all be grateful together, to be sending our love into the future. We wish you all a joyous Christmas,” Seaforth Hayes concluded.
“Let us raise our glasses to the originals – Tom (Macdonald Carey) and Alice Horton (Frances Reid) in their home where it all began,” added Bill Hayes.
Not only were all the names on the ornaments clearly visible, but appearing in the Horton living room set was a photo of Tom and Alice. A highlight of this emotional episode, in addition to the Hayeses’ performances, was an instrumental version of O Holy Night playing as the ornaments bearing the names of Hortons past and present were hung on the tree.
The emotions and joy continued till the very end of the episode. Not only did Ben and Ciara (Victoria Konefal) share a spiritual (if not literal) reunion, Doug and Julie joined Eli and Lani, now in labor, at the hospital. The duo sang Hark the Herald Angels Sing to help Lani through the birth. Watch for two more ornaments to be hung on next year’s tree.
Kudos to Bill Hayes and Susan Seaforth Hayes for bringing the most anticipated holiday family event on soaps (if not all TV) to life once more – in a year when we needed to experience it more than ever. Days of our Lives airs weekdays on NBC. Check local listings for airtimes.