Jake is assigned to do the Christmas shopping for the family, but it starts snowing on December 21st and there is no way to get to town. The men can't even do much work outside so they stay in and grease their boots.
Grandfather realizes that no one will be able to go into town to buy presents, and refuses to let Jake go in by horseback. So they decide to have a country Christmas without presents from town. Jim had wanted to get picture books for Yulka and Ántonia, so Grandmother helps him make some using pieces of cotton cloth like Jim pastes in cut shapes to make scenes. He also uses cut-up magazines. Otto makes candles and grandmother bakes gingerbread men.
On the day before Christmas Jake packs up all the handmade gifts and sets off by horseback to the Shimerdas'. When he goes, Jim sees that he's wearing a hatchet and has planned a surprise for him (Jim). When Jake returns, he has a Christmas tree with him.
That Christmas Eve they all gather around the tree and decorate it. Otto contributes with relics from his cowboy trunk.
Narrator-Jim still remembers how his whole family looked sitting around that tree. He thinks it's remarkable that Otto had no children of his own but liked children so much.