Julia explains to Grandpa Jake that they don't have a tree because Charlie takes the truck to work every day. She and Claudia begin telling him about the rough fall that Charlie has taken personally. Then, the tell him Bailey is in a funk and moved out. Claudia expresses the house is depressing with everyone gone. Jake instructs them to get their coats on as they're going to the lot down the street and getting a tree and drag it back to the house!
Bailey is at his apartment listening to the many messages on the answering machine. There's a call from Callie, saying goodbye, as she's at the airport headed home. There's a message from Sarah. A message from Claudia. Another message from Sarah. A message from Julia. Another message from Claudia (with Julia screaming in the background that she had just left a message for him.) As the phone begins to ring again, Bailey jerks the plug out of the wall.
Claudia, Jake and Julia are decorating the tree when Stuart stops by to give Claudia a present. It's huge! He tells her he can't stay, as his mom is out in the car waiting. Claudia stares at this huge package as he leaves and Julia adds Stuart must be trying to impress her. "He has a crush on you!" Claudia refuses to believe so, but is horrified when she opens the package and it's a very detailed, expensive wooden music stand. She freaks out. Julia tries to calm her down, saying the way to get through to him is to get him a totally impersonal gift.
Jake arrives at the restaurant and slips up to the bar, saying, "who do you have to know around here to get a drink?" Charlie offers a weak smile in return and tells Jake how busy he is there with his work for the homeless shelter and everything he's got planned for the restaurant's New Year's Eve party. Jake tells him he understands having the blues because of what happened with Kirsten, but stresses "your sisters need you. Charlie states the Christmas thing makes him feel stuck and tells Jake to butt out. Charlie has to find a new focus for his energies and tells Jake he should understand because of the mistakes he has made in the past. He notes Jake got past his problems. Jake sighs and says, "not really."
Bailey is working out on the weights at the gym when Coach Petrocelli comes in, startling him. Coach P doesn't understand why Bailey is there - Bay admits to being there for over three hours! The coach tells him he should be enjoying his vacation like everyone else. His advice is you have to step away or "you'll end up climbing a tower with a gun." Coach P suggests Bailey comes over to his house tomorrow and watch the game with him.
Owen is looking out the window, as Julia snags him up, ready to read a bedtime story for him. Julia gets the idea that Grandpa Jake should read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" to Owen and hands him both the book and the lad. Jake says he needs to leave, but the girls insist and gather around to hear him read, as well, telling him they won't take no for an answer. Jake begins *telling* the story instead of reading it and is messing the story up. He's turning the pages at the wrong place and skipping pages at a time. Julia corrects him, saying he's on the wrong page. She and Claudia exchange knowing glances as it appears one of two things is going on: Jake is either illiterate, or he can't see.
The next morning, Jake drops his watch on the floor and as he's reaching to pick it up off the floor and try to read the time, Julia walks by, witnessing that it looks like he's losing his vision.
Bailey is at the coach's house, relaxing, saying this is the way to spend the holidays - with a beer and a game. The coach is making a present for his daughter - some very delicate doll house furniture. She lives with her mother and has something similiar at her house, but Coach P wants her to have something at his house as well, since she's coming to spend the holidays with him. Bailey compares his daughter, Mandy, age 11, to Claudia. Coach P hesitates, wondering if Mandy is too grown up for doll house furniture and begins doubting that he even knows her anymore.
Claudia and Julia are walking through the mall and talking about what they think is wrong with Grandpa. Claudia pushes, thinking it's old age, but Julia changes the subject turning it to the matter of a present for Stuart. She picks up a package of party favors, hands it to Claudia and says it's perfect. Totally impersonal.
Charlie is busy rushing around Salingers getting things in order. Xander who works at the shelter tells Charlie their funding has been cut and they had to let the secretary go. Charlie walks over to a man seated at the table and the man, Pete, shakes his hand and thanks him for always being kind. Charlie offers him a hand saying he's just down on his luck and things would get to be better for him. Pete tells Charlie he doesn't know him - doesn't know anything about him. He could be a terrible person. Apparently, he was a pharmacist and got involved in dealing the drugs he sold and was convicted and served a jail sentence. Now, Pete can't get a job. You can see the wheels in Charlie's mind turning.
Claudia is seated with Stuart on the steps at school and gives him the package she and Julia picked out for him. He goes on and on about the beautiful wrapping job she did, to which she explains the store did it. He is flattered she would pay extra to have the store wrap it for him, but again, she bursts his bubble, telling him it was free. When he finally opens it, he tells her she picked out the perfect present for him...he, in fact, collects party favors!!
Bailey is still with the Coach when he finds out that Mandy isn't coming for Christmas after all, because of a huge snow storm in the East. (***Editorial comment....this is totally fabricated...because I'm in Boston and it's been *HOT* here...no white Christmas this year, sadly enough.....***) The coach seems very distant and then shakes it off, saying he'll see her in the Spring. Bailey, feeling sorry for him, suggest the two of them do something together tomorrow....like go see the Sharks hockey game. Coach P says he would like that.
At the restaurant, Charlie approaches Pete with a handful of nice pants, shirts and even a suit. Then, Charlie gets the classifieds and tells Pete he's going to try and help him find a job...saying people do, in fact, get a second chance.
Julia comes in to see Grandpa and tells him she has a present for him, but it's not a Christmas present. She opens her hand and it's a talking clock. He looks at her and she admits to witnessing him with his watch that morning and the problems he had reading his watch and the book last night. He lies to her, saying he's getting old and has old eyes. She offers to take him to the doctor, but he tells her he's seen one. Taking a deep breath, he tells Julia he is going blind....but it's okay...not a problem. Jake makes her promise not to tell the others and not to be sad for him. He has lived a long tim and has seen many beautiful things and has them all filed away in his mind alphabetically. Now, though, he has a new one to file away under "C" - Christmas with his grandchildren. They hug each other.
Julia shows up at Bailey's apartment and shares the news about Jake with him. She thinks he really needs to spend some time with him. Relentlessly, Bailey agrees and tells her he'll stop by and say hello. Then...defensively, he says, "what do you want from me?!" And, he tells her he's just not doing Christmas this year. Julia snaps at him, "your grandfather is going blind...." and tells him to cancel his plans, because this is more important.
Charlie is at the restaurant and is looking for Pete, who was suppose to be there by now.Charlie tells Xander he has job interviews all lined up for Pete, but he hasn't shown. Xander laughs, saying Pete is a schizophrenic and can go into quite a state when he's off his medication. Just then, Pete slips in, dressed in his street clothes. Charlie asks why isn't he dressed for his interviews in the nice clothes he gave him. Pete looks around and says the nice clothes make him too conspicuous. Charlie sighs.
Claudia answers the front door and it's Stuart to present her with a Thank You note for her giving him a present. Instead of letting her read it, he tells her, word for word, what it says and it goes on in tiny details about how appreciative he is over the present. Claudia tells him he's nice, but there's no future for the two of them. She comments, "How was I to know you'd like the gift? What kind of person collects those?" He is offended by this and tells her she's not a nice person - telling her she squashed him like a bug and lead him on letting him think she liked him too. She strongly denies this and he leaves.
Bailey stops by Coach P's house to tell him he can't go to the game - he's decided to go home and be with his family. The coach seems somewhat surprised by this and Bay feels bad about backing out and leaving him all alone. Coach P tells him he should be with his family. Bay wishes him a Merry Christmas.
At the Salinger's house, Jake is showing young Owen where Santa Claus will come in to deliver the presents. Owen seems quite entertained. Bailey comes in carrying a huge tray full of cartons of Chinese food. Julia hangs a stocking by the fireplace with Jake's name on it and tells him he belongs there. She adds they like having him around.
Charlie is sitting all alone in the chair in his bedroom (just like Kirsten used to do.) Claudia comes in to check on him, and asks about things at the restaurant. He tells her he doesn't know what's going on. Claudia informs him they're about to decorate the tree and Bailey wanted to put the lights on, but Claudia insisted on getting Charlie, because he's the one who *always* puts the lights on and if someone else did it....it would be like Charlie's not there. She leaves him.
Early Christmas morning, Jake seems to be slipping out before everyone awakens. He's stooped over where Claudia is sleeping, watching her and leaves a present in her hands. Downstairs, he calls for a cab to come get him, but Charlie is awake and overhears him. "I thought I had a staying problem," he snaps in a snarky tone. Jake states he has an appointment he has to keep and then seeing that Charlie is geared up to lash into him, Jake adds it's a chemotherapy appointment. Charlie hangs his head and apologizes for what he said. He then asks Jake to let him help - he's family. Jake shakes his head, saying he doesn't want to play that card. He says Claudia can handle him just leaving more than losing him little by little. He looks Charlie in the eyes and says, "I love those kids....and I love you, Charlie." He turns and leaves with Charlie watching after him.
As Claudia awakens, she finds the present in her hand and begins opening it. She calls to Julia, waking her up, thinking the present is from her, but finds it's a cameo. She reads the card out loud to Julia. It's from Jake and the cameo belonged to Jake's grandmother. Charlie offers to get coffee and Claudia wants to go and wake Jake. Charlie stops her and tells her he had to leave - making up a lie that he decided he wanted to be with his daughter today. Claudia looks hurt and asks how he could just walk away? Bailey comes in the front door with Coach P in tow, introducing him to the family and telling them he's great in the kitchen. Julia drags him off with her.
Later, Claudia is sitting on the front porch looking at her necklace. Stuart arrives and apologizes for the things he said to her and wants them to be friends. She accepts. He sits on the swing with her and asks her about all the cooking...why? He's Jewish and has never really *experienced* Christmas. She invites him to stay and he couldn't be happier.
Bailey comes into the kitchen to get a beer and Julia informs him she likes the coach and compliments Bailey on bringing him along with him. Bay is frustrated because he can't locate the bottle opener, which Julia reaches for and tosses to him. She looks at him and explains that he takes the *bad* stuff so hard and to heart, that he should also take credit for the good, too. He lets that sink in.
Claudia opens the back door and finds Charlie. She tells him she's looking for a place where no one else is. Charlie asks why? She doesn't feel like it's Christmas - no one wants to be there...no one except Stuart. Claudia looks up at Charlie and tells him she thinks he's wondering what his life would be like if he didn't have to take care of them? He tells her he likes taking care of her, but that just sometimes, it's not enough. Claudia frowns, saying taking care of them doesn't make him happy. He wanted more and marrying Kirsten would have provided him with that, but that's not there now, or ever. He looks at Claudia and says..."I need something small...for myself."
Julia and Coach P set the table and Julia screams at the top of her lungs, "DINNER!!!" Everyone agrees that it looks great, but Bailey makes a crack about last year's salmonellae scare. Julia smacks him, saying he just had the flu. Julia asks for someone to say a prayer and they all bow their heads. Silence. Then, Owen sings, "pah rum, pum, pum, pum." Everyone says "Amen," and they start to eat. The doorbell rings and Charlie gets up to answer it. It's Grace and she's as surprised to see him as he is her. She thought he was still in Chicago, but he tells her he returned - alone. She hands him a loaf of cranberry bread that she brought by for him...."just something small." Charlie smiles and invites her to stay. It takes three tries, but she finally comes in.
Stuart is playing the piano; Coach P is playing with Owen; Bailey is on the phone with Sarah, wishing her a Merry Christmas; Charlie finds a bottle of wine and refills his and Grace's glasses. Grace picks up a family picture which Charlie identifies as his dad as a young boy. Grace comments that Charlie takes after him. Charlie says..."maybe."
Julia and Claudia are in the kitchen cleaning up and putting food away when Claudia starts singing with the piano in the next room..."Have yourself a Merry littl Christmas..." Julia joins in with her. We see the sisters singing together, then Charlie and Grace toasting, Coach and Owen, Bailey mulling over his recent phone call to Sarah and then ending on Jake's stocking hanging on the mantel. The camera pans out the kitchen window as Julia and Claudia finish the song and fades out. The End.
Merry Christmas everyone!!
Grandpa Jake can't believe they don't have a tree. Charlie ran off to the restaurant. Claud says he's been spending most of his time there. Claud can't remember the last time they saw Bailey. Claud and Julia aren't too hip on the whole Christmas idea but Grandpa Jake won't let them. He talks them into going to the lot at the bottom of the hill to pick out a tree.
Bailey comes into the apartment and pushes the button on the answering machine. There's a message from Callie, Sarah, Claud, Sarah, Julia and then Claud again. Then the phone rings. He picks it up, hangs it up and then unplugs the phone.
Claud, Julia and Jake are fixing the Christmas tree when Stuart rings the bell with a huge box that he got for Claudia. It's a beautiful carved music stand. Claud can't believe that Stuart has a crush on her. She doesn't know what to do. Julia tells him to buy him an impersonal gift that will give him the message.
Jake is at the restaurant and orders a beer from Charlie. "It's nice to stay busy when you got the blues," Jake says. He tells Charlie that his sisters miss having him around the house. Charlie says they can handle it and the whole Christmas thing makes him feel stuck. He wants to find new places to put his energy. He thinks Jake knows how it is - he made a mistake and got past it. Jake says in some ways he didn't get past it.
Bai is working out in the gym when the wrestling coach comes by. He can't figure out why he's there. Coach wants him to go home and take a break. He invites him to his house to watch the game. Bai says, "I don't think so." But the coach tells him it's not a request.
Owen wants Grandpa to read him a story but he says he has to head back to L.A. Julia and Claud convince him to stay for a while. So he reads the book, but he's not really reading. "You're on the wrong page," Julia says. "So I am, so I am," he says.
The next morning Jake drops his watch on the floor and has to pick it up and hold it real close to his face to see it.
Bai is watching football at the coaches house. The coach is working on a dollhouse for his 11-year-old daughter. "It's stupid. It feels like there's so much riding on the present," coach says.
Claud and Julia are talking about Jake's reading. Claud says he looked scared. Julia says he was probably just confused. They're looking for a present for Stuart. They find some stupid puzzle.
Charlie is busy working at the restaurant serving the homeless. He sits down to talk to one of the men, Pete. Charlie tells him he has every right to a better life. They guy worked for a pharmacetuical company and when he got laid off he sold drugs and got caught. He says no one will hire him now.
Stuart is unwrapping the gift, taking his time because it's wrapped so beautifully. "You got me this," he says. "Well, yeah, but." He canít believe she knew that he collected these.
Bai goes over to the coaches house. His daughter isn't coming because of a big snow storm on the east coast. He'll see her in the spring. Bai says why don't they do something, like see a hockey game or something. "What time is face off," coach says.
Charlie gives Pete a pair of pants and a couple shirts so he'll look decent for an interview. He brought the classified ads to help him look for a place.
Julia knocks on Jake's door. She brought him a present, not a Christmas present. It's a talking clock. "I say you having trouble finding your watch this morning." He says he wasn't having trouble. Julia says she's going to take him to a doctor but he says he has a doctor. It's a degenerative thing. He's going blind. "I'm sorry," Julia says. He says he's OK. He can manage the stairs, travel etc. He doesn't want her to tell the others because he doesn't want to be treated like an invalid. "I've seen so many beautiful things and I have them filed away alphabetically and now I have a new one under C. Christmas with my grandchildren."
Julia goes over to the apartment and tells him about Jake. He says he'll stop by. "Great, another one of your drivebys." She says she's all alone in this and she want's him to come home for Christmas. He says he's busy and has someplace else to be. She says Jake is family and it's more important.
The guy from the shelter comes by. Charlie thought it was Pete. The guy tells him that Pete is sychophrinic. Pete shows up. He wouldn't wear the close because they make him feel too conscpicious.
Stuart drops by with a thank you note. He tells her what it says before she even has time to open it. "Look Stuart. You're a nice guy but there isn't going to be any future for us. I don't like you like that." Stuart says he thought she was nice. "I am nice," Claudia says. He says a nice person doesn't lead you on and then squash them.
Bai goes over to the coaches house. He tells him he can't go to the game because he's got to go home and deal with some family stuff. He feels bad, but coach tells him not to sweat it.
Owen is peaking up the chimney while Jake explains how Santa Claus comes down the chimney. Bai brings in the Chinese food. Julia hung a stocking for Grandpa Jake because that's were he belongs. "This is your home, not mine." Julia says they like having him around this time of year and they want him to come back next year.
Charlie is in a room, starring out the window. Claud asks him what's going on down at the restaurant. He says he doesn't know. They're doing the tree and Claud remembers that he likes to do the lights. Jake leaves presents in everyone's beds. He's in the kitchen calling a taxi when Charlie comes in. "I thought I had bad staying power, but you," Charlie says. Jake tells him he's not running away. He has an appointment that he's got to keep. He never intended to stay. Charlie asks him what kind of appointment he could possibly have on Christmas morning. "It's an appointment for chemotherapy," Jake says. Charlie wants to help, their family. Jake thinks it's better this way then them losing him little by little. "Maybe you think I don't love those kids, but I do. And I love you," Jake says.
Claud opens her gift. It's a beautiful cameo pendant. First she thinks it's from Julia but she reads the card from Jake. It used to be her great grandmothers. Julia, Owen and Charlie are opening presents. Claud goes to wake up Grandpa but Charlie tells him that he's not there. He says that since he was with them on Christmas Eve, he thought he ought to be with is daughter on Christmas. "So he just walked away, after everything we did for them," Claudia says.
Bai brings the coach over for Christmas. Julia asks him if he can cook. "I can peel and chop things," he says. "Good enough for me," Julia says.
Claudia is sitting on the swing in the backyard. Stuart comes over to apologize. She didn't really lead him on and she is a nice person. He babbles on and on until Claudia tells him to shut up - apology accepted. "Hey Stuart, I have an idea. Why don't you stay," Claudia says. Bai comes in the kitchen to grab a beer. "I like your coach. Even if he lied about being able to chop," Julia said. Julia says that it was a nice thing he did for the coach. Bai doesn't want to hear it because he's not a nice person because of what he did to Sarah. Julia tells him that if he's going to punish himself for the bad stuff he ought to at least give himself credit for the good stuff.
Claudia comes out onto the porch. Charlie is there. She says that it doesn't feel like Christmas because no one wants to be there. She thinks Charlie is sitting there thinking about what his life would be like if he didn't have to take care of her and Owen. He says he wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. "Yeah, but it doesn't make you happy," Claudia says. "It's just not enough. I mean I love you but I guess I want a little bit more out of life. And I was so close to having that." He knows he's never going to be able to replace Kirsten but, "I wouldn't mind having something small."
Christmas dinner is all ready and they sit down to the table. "Should we say a blessing or something," Julia asks. They all bow their heads. Owen makes drummer boy noises and they all say Amen. The doorbell rings and Charlie goes to answer it. It's Grace. She thought he was in Chicago. "I'm back," he says. "Alone?" she asks. He says yes. She brought by cranberry bread. He invites her in but she says she's already eaten. He says he won't tell anyone so she comes in.
Bai calls Sarah to wish her a Merry Christmas. He apologizes for not calling sooner.
Charlie pours a glass of wine for Grace who's looking at pictures. Owen is riding through the kitchen on his tricycle. Stuart is playing on the piano. Julia and Claudia are putting away food in the kitchen and begin to sing along.