Let us travel back to a more innocent time in the strip's history, a time when Farley was still alive and April was but a troublesome toddler. A time when Lynn Johnston got her third animated special . . . let us go back to A Christmas Angel
Our story opens with John, Mike, and Liz bringing home a fresh-cut Christmas tree. The plan is to surprise Elly by having it all set up by the time she notices. It's a bit tall for the living room, so Mike retrieves a saw to level it off.
Naturally, Elly's attention is drawn by the sawing noises and the trail of pine needles and sawdust leading to the living room and thus she doesn't even pretend to be pleased by this development. She just looks depressed while toddler April (in a carrier) pats stray needles into her hair.
Liz wants to decorate the tree, no one else does. It isn't even a "Maybe later" situation, they just show no interest in putting up the decorations. So John says sure, she can decorate it herself. Elly dumps toddler April on Liz at the same time. Liz tethers the baby out of range of the breakables and gets to work. Just as she finishes, April breaks free and smashes a glass angel. Liz knocks over the tree and has a nasty fall trying to grab the angel and/or April in time. Elly immediately appears and rather than saying anything about "Are you hurt?" or "Was anyone cut by the glass?" she immediately got after Elizabeth for breaking the old and valuable and absolute favorite Christmas decoration(holding a shard of glass in one hand and April in the other, making no move to stop April from grabbing at the broken piece). Of course, it was entirely Liz's fault because an eleven-year-old should be held completely responsible for the constant monitoring of a toddler.
Liz was also told by Mike that she couldn't go shoveling driveways for extra cash with him because she was too scrawny to lift a shovel. Then he went out with the snow blower, rendering his argument about needing the strength to lift a shovel moot.
Mike's subplot involves him somehow getting twenty bucks per driveway cleared despite there only being about an inch of snow on the ground, then listening to the guy who I'm pretty sure worked at a jewelry store that Christmas is a time to splurge on loved ones and bought everyone else presents (including a $120 necklace for Elly) instead of getting the clothes and CDs he wanted for himself.
Later, Elizabeth decides she can make it up to Elly by making a replacement angel out of construction paper. April wanders in unsupervised and Liz good-naturedly lets her play with some of the paper scraps on the floor next to her. John comes in and yells at Liz for not watching April and letting her get into a mess. It should be noted that April has thus far been the only one not to yell at Liz or greet her with anything but a smile.
Annoyed by her family, Elizabeth heads out sledding with her friends; the other kids didn't want her with them, so she goes off on her own, down a trail she didn't notice had a 'No sledding' sign up.. She hits an icy patch(a frozen-over river), runs into a tree, and gets knocked out for a few hours.
The ice over the river begins to break up, leaving her hat on the other side of the water and the path she took to get there impassable.
When she comes to, it's nearly dark, and she's not quite sure where she is. She just walks aimlessly until she finds a warmly-lit log cabin with a woman outside feeding the birds. The nice old lady invites her in to warm up. There's acknowledgement of how you shouldn't talk to strangers, but the woman makes it clear her priority is to get Liz home.
Elizabeth figured meh, it's this or hypothermia and home is crap, so she goes in for hot chocolate and a chair by the fire. The woman has a nice chat with her about how it can suck when you're viewed as old enough to get the blame but young enough not to get the credit.
Meanwhile, her absence has been noticed, and John and Mike discover Liz's hat by the river and are understandably freaked -- they think she's in the river. Shades of April's near-drowning.
The woman helps Liz accept the role of the middle child, telling her the nice things her parents never attempted to, then helps her get home safe and sound.
Elizabeth greets Farley, figures everyone else went out for something, then heads upstairs. The family returns home, in a total panic for not finding Liz, and start to call 911. Liz hears the panic and comes downstairs to see what the fuss is about. Everyone suddenly appreciates her due to having thought she was possibly dead.
So, uh, the moral of the story is that it's okay if no one makes positive acknowledgement of your existance unless they thought you were dead. That or, "If you don't think anyone appreciates you, fake your death."