Dana Mathis: It'll stop. The party gods wouldn't allow me to be here alone during Christmas break.
There's nothing like celebrating the holidays with your friends and family...except when you're not there.
Due to a convoluted series of events, a character is either far from home/where their family is at or stuck someplace they can't get out of on a holiday and they need to get to their destination before the holiday is over. It will usually be a Race Against the Clock, with the punishment for being late being incurring their family's wrath because they promised to be home or missing out on all the festivities.
The holiday that the plot focuses on is most likely Christmas or Thanksgiving, since they are the most commonly celebrated holidays, but other holidays such as Easter may qualify.
This is Truth in Television, as many people can attest to running behind schedule when trying to get to their family and friends to celebrate or having flights inconveniently delayed.
Can overlap with Road Trip Plot and/or "Stuck at the Airport" Plot. Not to be confused with Home by Christmas, where soldiers at war are promised the fighting will be over in time for them to go home by a certain date (usually Christmas), but the conflict ends up lasting much longer than anticipated.
Films — Live-Action
- Bush Christmas: Some intrepid kids chase a pair of horse thieves deep into the Australian outback. A heavy rainstorm comes through which wipes out their tracks, so they can't find their way back home. After this they start worrying about being lost and not being able to get back in time for Christmas. Luckily the Happy Ending has a posse led by their father showing up, arresting the horse thieves and getting the kids back home in time for Christmas.
- Subverted in Elmo Saves Christmas; Snuffy goes to Cincinnati to visit his grandmother for Christmas, but promises Big Bird that he will come back to Sesame Street the day after Christmas. When Elmo wishes for it to be Christmas every day, this results in Snuffy being stuck in Cincinnati and unable to return to Sesame Street, which makes Big Bird upset. At the end of the special, after Elmo goes back in time and stops himself from taking the magical snowglobe that granted his wish in the first place, Snuffy reveals to Big Bird that his grandmother decided to visit him for Christmas this year.
- In the first two Home Alone movies, Kevin McAllister gets separated from the rest of his family, and Kate, Kevin's mom, does everything she can to reunite with him. In the first film, Kevin gets left at home from the family's trip to Paris due to a power outage and a random neighbor kid being present during the headcount. In the second, Kevin accidentally boards the wrong plane and is headed to New York instead of Florida. At the end of both movies, the rest of the McAllister family reunites with Kevin on Christmas day.
- I'll Be Home for Christmas: Jake Wilkinson is promised a vintage 1957 Porsche by his father if he makes it home for Christmas Eve dinner by 6:00 P.M. Unfortunately, he is left stranded in the middle of the desert by some jocks from his college. With no money, no ID, no help from his father (due to him thinking that he's making more excuses not to show up), and a Santa suit glued to him, Jake must try to get home in time.
- Subverted in Love the Coopers, where Eleanor seems to be hurrying home, then opts to stay in the airport (which she does for a while) rather than face her family.
- In A Muppet Family Christmas, the Muppets visit the farmhouse of Emily Bear, Fozzie's mother, for Christmas. However, Miss Piggy is busy with a photoshoot and last-minute Christmas shopping, so she can't join the rest of the Muppets right away. On her way to the farmhouse, the worst blizzard in 50 years hits, and this results in Miss Piggy's limousine getting stuck in a snowdrift. Having befriended the Muppets, Doc volunteers to find Miss Piggy in the snowstorm for Kermit, and he returns with her in a sled.
- In Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Neal Page has to get home to Chicago for Thanksgiving, but every single mode of transportation he takes fails on him and he's stuck with shower curtain ring salesman Del Griffith.
- In the TV movie Good Luck Charlie, It's Christmas!, Teddy Duncan and her mother Amy miss their flight to California and have to make it to Amy's parent's house in time to celebrate Christmas with the rest of their family.
- A Christmas Episode of Home Improvement has Tim and Al on their way to a Christmas festival that Binford is sponsoring, but a snowstorm leaves them stranded at the airport in Alpena, MI. Tim and Al try to get back to Detroit so Tim can see his family for the holidays while Al has to make a choice between his Love Interest Ilene and his mother.
- The entire Hawkeye (2021) series revolves around this. After the events of Avengers: Endgame, Clint Barton is excited to spend Christmas with his family, only to learn the enemies he made during his five-year stint as the vigilante Ronin have resurfaced in New York City and are targeting Kate Bishop. Now Clint must deal with them while ensuring he makes it home in time for the holiday.
- The much-recorded Christmas standard "(There's No Place Like) Home for the Holidays" is also all about this trope.
I met a man who lives in Tennessee
And he was headin' for
Pennsylvania and some homemade pumpkin pie
From Pennsylvania folks are travelin'
Down to Dixie's sunny shore
From Atlantic to Pacific
Gee, the traffic is terrific
- "Hurry Home for Christmas", first recorded in the 1960s by Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, is also about this.
- In the All Grown Up! episode, "The Finster Who Stole Christmas", Kimi and Kira are trying to get back home to Chas and Chuckie after visiting Kimi's biological father Hiro, who is recovering from a bad sushi incident. However, Kimi and Kira keep getting transferred to airports around the world, eventually ending up in Mexico. As Chuckie accidentally stole a Christmas tree from the Hillicki family, believing they threw it out, he believes that he's being smited for theft, and Kimi and Kira not being able to get home was his fault. When he returns the tree near the end of the episode, Kimi and Kira arrive back home in time for Christmas.
- The Christmas Episode of Little Bill has Alice the Great attempting to make it back home in time for Christmas, since she was in Cincinnati.
- The plot of the Thomas & Friends episode "Last Train for Christmas'' is that Connor is trying to get the people who visited the mainland back to their homes on Sodor in time for Christmas. However, a snowstorm complicates Connor's plans, and the engines have to work together to clear the lines so Connor can make it to the stations of Sodor on time. Thomas also lets Connor borrow Duck's Slip Coaches so that he can uncouple them without having to stop at the stations and save time.