Season 5, Episode 10: One Christmas, to Go

The credits: scott bairstow, jennifer aspen, tom virtue, o'neal compton, and karen black, and jacob smith as owen, edited by stephen potter, production designer bill eigenbrodt, director of photography joe pennella, co-producer valerie joseph, producer daniel attias, producer paul marks, supervising producer steven robman, consulting producer p.k. simonds, co-executive producer tammy ader, executive producer ken topolsky, executive producer john romano, written by p.k. simonds, directed by ken topolsky

Transcribed by Rachel

Charlie comes in with groceries which pleases Claudia. Charlie asks about Daphne. She's in the living room, kind of a mess. Claudia just put Diana down for a nap. She asks if she should start dinner because there are a lot of hungry people around all of a sudden. Charlie says he knows what she's doing and he doesn't care. If she wants to do him a favor, she'll get on the phone and beg Hanover to take her back after Christmas. She says she won't go back. He asks what she means by a lot of people. They aren't a lot of people. He walks into the living room.

Daphne is sitting on the floor watching TV. An undecorated Christmas tree sits in the corner. Daphne starts to say something, but Charlie stops her. It's okay, he can take care of the baby. She should go out or do whatever. A strange man and woman come into the room. The woman hands Charlie a piece of wood. It came off of the chair in their room. Les thought it was a recliner and kind of forced it. Charlie is confused. Daphne gets up and tells her mom that she better not have started unpacking. She told them they had to wait until she asked Charlie. He starts laughing. He's pleased that Daphne's mom and her . . . friend, Les, have come to see the baby. They all shake hands. Les takes the remote control from Daphne and sits down to watch television. Daphne tells Charlie they don't have to stay, but he doesn't mind. He's happy to have them. Doreen says when she heard about Diana, she just had to come over and see her. Daphne says again that they showed up out of nowhere. Charlie wants them to stay. Daphne says it's fine, but they can stay in the attic or the garage. Charlie says they can stay in their room, he and Daphne will sleep with the baby. Doreen thinks he's a gentleman. Charlie thinks this is the way Christmas should be, grandparents, a house full of family. Daphne sighs and shakes her head while Les continues to channel surf.

Ned and Julia are commiserating about being separated for break. She points out that it's only 40 minutes between their houses. They can visit. He says that she'll want to see her sister and after they turn off the heat in the dorms, she won't want to visit. She's surprised to hear he isn't going home. He thought she knew. His poli sci paper was due yesterday and it's five points off for each day it's late. After Christmas is over he might as well stay and cram for finals. Julia thinks that is terribly depressing. He's mostly bummed about missing her. She says she'll call him every minute, day and night. He says that's great, but doesn't seem to really mean it. They hug.

Doreen can't believe she's a grandma. She comments on how much they used to love to go to the zoo. Charlie, who is changing the baby's diaper, smiles. Daphne says she hated the zoo and would beg to leave. Doreen seems oblivious as she talks on about how Les loves the baboons. Daphne points out that Diana is too young to go to the zoo. She can barely see colors. Doreen lights a cigarette. Daphne and Charlie look aghast. Daphne told her a million times not to light up in front of the baby. Doreen remembers she promised Les a game beer half a quarter ago. Charlie takes Diana and says he'll go get it. Daphne doesn't look pleased at being left behind.

As Charlie fetches Les' beer from the refrigerator Griffin comes in from the shed. He apologizes again for bringing Claudia back from school, but he can't help but hear Charlie giving her hell. Charlie tells him to try, it's none of Griffin's business. Griffin says that if Charlie had known what it was like out there he would have done the same thing. Charlie says he wouldn't have. The school is pissed now and they don't want to release her transcripts. She might not get credit for the semester. So, he shouldn't tell Charlie what he can and can't be mad about, or how to take care of his little sister. He might sleep there and get his mail there, but sharing an address doesn't make them family.

Julia comes back to Ned's dorm room. She thinks it's colder in the dorm than it is outside. Ned must agree because he's working in a heavy coat and gloves. Ned says he can't right now. She just wants a kiss goodbye. She asks if he's alright. He says he's fine, but then admits that he's in trouble. She wants to know why. If he gets a B, even with the late points he should be okay. He says that will bring him to a "D" with the mid-term. That will bring his GPA down to a point where he'll be on academic probation. She may be able to multi-task, but he has a hard time getting things done. He just wants to spend all of his time with her. She agrees to stay and help him, but he should never use her as an excuse to not do his work. And they will need to get a room, because she can't stand to work in that cold environment.

Bailey and Sarah's apartment
Bailey, Sarah and Owen are making ceramic Christmas gifts. Owen goes over to watch TV despite the fact that he hasn't finished Charlie's present. Sarah says it's okay, despite the fact that it's just a pile of clay. Sarah affirms him again. Owen doesn't seem reassured. He knows that him staying over is some special treat, but he knows it's because they don't want him back because of the baby.

Charlie and Daphne are crammed on a roll-away cot. Daphne says if her mom calls the baby, "my oogie boogie bastard granddaughter" one more time she's going to . . . Charlie tells her to be quiet, Doreen will be able to hear her. Daphne hopes she does. Charlie points out that she'll also wake up the baby and could she not use her knees for emphasis. Daphne crawls out of bed. Daphne tries to explain what her mom does to her. This "I want to be a family" crap is too much, especially since she hasn't heard from her in the past six months. Charlie understands, but she's all they have. They haven't had a parent or a grandparent in the house for like six years. Daphne protests a little bit, but Charlie stops her. His first memory of Christmas Eve he snuck downstairs really late. He saw this old gray haired guy stuffing stockings and he thought for sure he was Santa but then he turned around and it was his dad's old man. He was almost as happy at that because that's what holidays are for, family's getting together and doing things for each other. He wants that for Charlie. Doreen may not be the ideal, but she wants to be there and she exists, which they could use around there.

Sarah and Bailey's apartment
Sarah took Owen's pile of clay and made an amazing tree frog. She leads Bailey over to see it, but everything they made has been smashed. Bay can't believe Owen would do that, but it couldn't have been anyone else. Sarah tells him to talk to Owen, but he can't. Owen already is upset. Sarah points out that he might need the attention, but Bay won't do it on Christmas Eve. Owen comes over. Sarah asks again if he'll say anything, but he just asks if Owen is ready to go to rehearsal.

Julia and Ned are in a hotel room. He is working on his paper, but when she looks at it, he is getting it all wrong. She sits down and starts writing. Ned picks up the remote control. Julia tells him no more soft-core porn. He points out that it is the only thing that kept them awake the night before, but she says that she's about to write Stalin into a three-way, so maybe they should put their minds on something else. He tells her that whatever she's missing at home, she's saving his life. She tells him to stop saying that, who needs busy shopping malls and tangled lights? She'd rather relive World War II. He starts to kiss her, but she stops him. They need to work.

Charlie is folding laundry when Doreen comes in. He asks if she has any laundry, he's about to run a load of whites. She points to the pants in his hands, Les' work pants, but could he fold them on the creases? Charlie does. She asks if he minds if she asks a question. He nods. She asks if he loves Daphne, really. He says he does. So why doesn't he marry her? Give the girl a ring. Charlie laughs nervously. They have an understanding and it's complicated. Kirsten comes in with Diana and she and Charlie coo over the baby. Doreen looks on with horror.

Claudia comes out looking for old Christmas lights. She asks Griffin what he's looking at. It's classified ads, he's looking for a new apartment. She's surprised. He says he's done with his job there, he's ruined Julia's life and now hers. She doesn't understand. He says that Charlie told him about her having to stay back a year. Claudia says that it's bull. She has to write a letter of apology telling them why she left and they'll release the transcripts. It's no big deal. She starts to go to find Charlie, but Griffin stops her. Charlie is right, why is he there other than to save rent. He's not in this family. It's a good thing. Claudia disagrees, but Griffin thinks it is time for him to move on.

Sarah and Bailey are helping Owen get into his pig costume for the live nativity scene. The priest comes out and talks to the children about the importance of Christmas and the baby Jesus. Owen appears disinterested. He wants to go. Bailey thinks he should listen, but Owen finally pulls away. Sarah points out that a special baby that changed the world, who would that remind Owen of? Bailey finally gets it.

Ned is watching the porn channel again. Julia asks him to shut it off, but he doesn't want to. She's on the conclusion. She tells him to mute it. He does, but as she types she includes numerous Freudian slips. She finishes the paper and saves it. They start to make out again, but when he wishes her Merry Christmas she realizes what time it is. He thought she wanted to miss it. She didn't. If she leaves now, she might be able to get out of her brother's "all we have is each other, Julia" speech. He goes to print it out the paper, but disconnects the cable. When it won't print he says it must have been damaged when they moved it. He tells her to go home, he'll find a printer tomorrow and do it then. He'll take whatever grade he gets. She disagrees. She didn't pull an all-nighter so he would get a "D." They'll go find a place to print the paper.

Sarah and Bailey are sitting with the other parents for the dress rehearsal of the pageant. The children perform with much prompting from the priest. The Mary keeps forgetting her lines, but finally she pulls the blanket from the manger. The baby Jesus is missing. The priest asks who took the doll, but nobody admits to it. Bailey and Sarah both realize Owen may have taken him, as everyone is looking for the doll, Owen is just sitting there.

Charlie and Daphne's bedroom
Daphne finds her mom sitting on the bed reading a magazine. She asks where Kirsten went. Doreen says she told her to go home. It's supposed to be a family Christmas, so why should Charlie's old girl be hanging around. Daphne can't believe she did that. Daphne needs Kirsten's help, she has a lot to do. Does Doreen have to spell it out? Kirsten is a fox in a hen house, she's after Daphne's man. Daphne points out that she's married. Doreen says if two people laugh that way they've got to be... Best friends, Daphne shouts. They are best friends. She's the reason Daphne has made it this far. Kirsten is like her salvation and Doreen just sees man trap. Whatever she sees that stands between her and her man she gets rid of, even her own kid. If she hides her drunk boyfriends liquor or calls her car thief boyfriend a car thief to his face. Doreen lights up another cigarette. We know who's got to go...Daphne leaves the room.

Julia and Ned run up to the print shop just as they are locking the doors. They are the only print shop open in the city. Except, points out the manager, they are closed. Ned says they can go back to the hotel and order some room service. Would that be so terrible? Her family would understand. Julia turns and pounds of the window. She can see them in there. Isn't this the season of giving? How about a little goodwill towards men? HOW ABOUT A LITTLE PEACE ON EARTH! The manager comes over and lets them in.

Claudia and Griffin are talking in the shed. For three and a half months, all Claudia wanted was to be home with Owen playing in the yard and Diana gurgling. But Owen's at Bailey's and Julia's a ghost. They can't even get it together to have Christmas Eve dinner. Griffin points out it was much worse at his house. They were lucky if they went for an hour without his dad shoving one of them into the tree or cursing the memory of their mother. So, she should just shut up and deal? Griffin says no, he just is going to miss this place.

Bailey and Sarah are underneath a pew searching for the Jesus doll. Sarah asks why they are doing this if they know who took the baby. Bailey says they don't know for sure. They sit up at look at Owen. Everyone is searching except him. Bailey says if he asked and Owen said he didn't take the baby, what good does it do to accuse him? All it gets him is a nasty fight and Bailey would just feel bad. Sarah points out that they are just getting later and later for dinner looking for a doll that he probably threw in the trash an hour ago. Bay decides to go look in the trash.

Doreen is smoking outdoors. Daphne didn't come out to argue with her, but Les is upstairs packing. Is he leaving? They both are, on the 10:20 bus, back to Abilene. Les is missing home and she isn't feeling so welcome anymore. Daphne tries to get her to stay for Christmas. What's the point of even coming if they weren't going to stay. That's what Doreen thought, but then she made everyone so unhappy. Daphne asks her not to put this on Daphne. Doreen is the one who showed up on her doorstep unannounced and said, let's be a family. The first time Daphne looks at her cross-eyed she takes off. Doreen says it isn't the first time. Or the tenth. It's every time. Daphne told her how to help her, how hard it is for her with the baby. Doreen asks when Daphne saw her change a diaper or feed a baby. Daphne asks if she did it for her. Doreen apologizes that she wasn't put on this earth to serve her, but she wasn't. She didn't get her pregnant, she did that all by herself and as for the rest of it, she never blamed her for being born, so she shouldn't blame her for everything that came after.

Bailey, Sarah and Owen finally show up. They're sorry they're so late, but they had a minor behavior problem. Sarah comments it wasn't so minor. Charlie goes to give Owen a hug, but he pulls away and goes to look for Griffin. That's the behavior Bay was talking about. Charlie understands, they've kept him away during the whole holiday season. He has every right to be upset.

Claudia comes in with dinner. She's glad they're there. They should just start without Julia. The lat time she called she was still an hour away. Bailey can't believe she wants to go ahead. Claudia rants that no one cares. They can't show up for the meal, they haven't decorated the tree, she's sure that when it comes time for stockings people will come up with an excuse. Sarah says they could do that, but her family used to always pick out one gift to unwrap early. Why don't they do that while they wait for Julia. Claudia says that would be a great idea, no matter that her turkey is aging like the portrait of Dorian Grey.

Bailey goes to get their presents. He opens up Owen's backpack and sees hay. He looks around and sees a bag of garbage. He looks in the bag and finds the baby Jesus.

They are all seated around the Christmas tree. Owen is excited about the presents, but Bailey says not so fast they need to talk. Charlie hands Owen his gift and Bailey is forgotten. It's two packages and one of them is batteries. Charlie hands a box to Claudia, saying it looks like a sweater. She asks if she can at least open it first. He hands another one to Sarah who is surprised there is a gift under the tree for her. Bailey gets his and then one for Daphne. Charlie asks where Daphne is. Claudia says she went upstairs. Sarah looks for one for Charlie. Bailey asks Claudia if she didn't get him a gift, she asks if he did. Charlie says it's fine, something will turn up tomorrow. Bailey says there has to be something. Claudia finds a gift, it's from Griffin.

Ned and Julia go to turn in his paper. He just puts it in a box. She asks how the professor will know which day it came in on. Ned says the prof will come by at midnight. Julia can't believe he would do that on Christmas Eve. She notices a memo that gives a two day grace period for late papers over the holidays. Didn't he see this? It's dated a week ago. Ned glosses over it. He'll take her home and go to his parents. They can see each other the next day. She can't believe she stayed to help save his GPA and it didn't even matter. She figures out he knew about it. He just kept saying don't leave. Did he fake the rest of it too? He said he called the printing places and they were all closed, but when they found one open he didn't even try to get in. Did he fake the printer thing too? Because he's a total computer guy. He made her stay and extra day and a half when she would have liked to be home with her family. He watched her, made her lie to them again and again. Did he think that was romantic? She walks away.

Owen's bedroom
Bailey takes Owen into his room for a lecture. He pulls the baby out. Owen says he's busy, but Bay says he is going to listen to him. He took the baby and lied about it and those are very bad things. Owen says it's just a stupid doll. Bay says it doesn't matter. This baby is important to people and even if it isn't to Owen, he needs to respect other people because he isn't the only person in the world. Bay says they are going to call the church and tell them what he did and in the morning he is going to go back and say he's sorry to their faces. Owen cries and begs Bailey to not make him do it. Bailey says they are going to talk. Just because there's a new baby in this family doesn't mean he can do whatever he wants. Bailey is going to be watching everything Owen does and he had better start behaving. Owen begins to cry.

Charlie and Daphne's bedroom
Daphne comes in while Doreen is packing. Daphne asks what it was like when she was Diana's age. Was it hard for her to go back to work? Did she miss Daphne when she went out at night? Doreen says she doesn't want to talk about it anymore, but Daphne presses on. She wants to know if it was as easy for her mom as it is for her. Doreen says she doesn't know. When Daphne looks at her baby and wonders what would happen if something took her away from her, she would be okay. She thinks maybe that is why she's so mad at her mom, because they are so much alike. That's the way it happens. A parent who doesn't love their kids has kids who grow up the same and that feels bad to be a part of that.

Sarah asks Bailey what is going on. Owen is up there crying his eyes out. Sarah says he did the right thing, someone had to talk to him. It wasn't because now Owen is up there bawling his eyes out and his Christmas is ruined. He was doing okay before, being home with everyone. Sarah says she shouldn't' have told him what to do. She isn't a mother. Bailey says it was wrong, it was a mistake.

Entry way
Charlie catches Doreen. He needs to talk to her. She send Lester away. Doreen says he should save his breath. He can't because when she showed up and said let's be a family. He wants that. She tells him to talk to her daughter. He doesn't care about what happened in the past. He wants a grandmother for his daughter. She needs that and she doesn't have that because her mom . . . Daphne is having trouble. Doreen tries to break in, but Charlie continues. In his family they had a rule. Go ahead, stay mad, but just stay. He asks her to please stay. She asks if somebody is going to take them to the bus station because if they aren't she'll call a cab.

Bailey and Sarah watches as Claudia tries in vain to saw into their vastly overcooked turkey. It's no wonder, it spent 3 extra hours in the oven. The could bounce ball bearings on her potatoes. Charlie comes in and says it's for the best. They should just give up. Claudia says an emphatic no, not when they have a chance to sit around the table like they used to once a week. They are going to have a real Christmas, with stocking and The Night Before Christmas. She waves the carving knife around for emphasis finally stabbing it into the turkey stating that they will have a proper Christmas or die trying! She's going out and getting them a Christmas dinner if she has to buy turkey jerky at the mini-mart. Bailey stops her. It's late and they have to go home. He has a holiday brunch at the restaurant and they'll be back in the morning for breakfast. They turn to leave. Owen comes in. Bay asks if he's okay. They are going now, but they'll be back in the morning. Owen wants to go with him. Charlie says he can stay. They'll get up in the morning and open stockings like they always do. Owen doesn't want to, he wants to go home with Bailey. He goes to get his stuff. Charlie looks hurt. Bay says Owen is just a little off, he'll be begging to come back pretty soon. Charlie says that he knows, but it's clear that he's disappointed. They wave goodbye.

(My Skin by Natalie Merchant plays over the next scenes.)
Charlie is walking with the baby. He goes over to the shed door and knocks. Griffin lets him in. Charlie apologizes, he saw the light on. Griffin tells him not to sweat it, it's his house. Charlie goes in.

Julia comes in looking for everybody, but no one is around. She calls for Charlie, Bailey, Claud, Santa? She goes over to the counter where a scrapbook labeled "1998" lies. She opens it up. It says "Things to Remember. Things to Forget?" The first page has pictures from the wedding Charlie gave Julia and Griffin. The next page has more pictures including two of Diana's sonagrams. She turns and leaves.

Charlie wanted to thank him for the scrapbook. He's spent an hour looking at it and he hasn't even gotten to the end. Griffin is surprised. The biopsy, the one that cleared Charlie, he remembers how he just wanted to get away after that, start over. But, he couldn't with his family responsibilities. He keeps thinking how Griffin doesn't have that. He's free as a bird, but he stays. The only two people who actually want to be there are Griffin and Claudia and he keeps shoving them away. Everyone else who should want to be around can't get away fast enough, the people who actually share his daughter's blood. So it makes him think that if Griffin isn't family, he doesn't know who is.

Bus station
Doreen and Daphne say goodbye. If Daphne gets out to Abilene...yeah, she'll call. Doreen gets on the bus. The attendant asks Daphne if she needs a ticket. If she does, the counter is over there. Daphne looks at the counter, considering it.

Julia comes back to Ned's dorm room. He asks what she's doing back. She went home and ran up the stairs, but nobody was there. She looked around, but all it reminded her of was the bad stuff, the cancer and all the stuff they went through. She loves them all and it's nobody's fault, but she doesn't want to go back to that. She's not forgiving him. What he did was so bad, but nobody has ever worked so hard to keep her around. She hates the way he did it, but thank you.

Living room
Charlie, Claudia, Griffin and Diana are around the tree eating Chinese and opening gifts. Griffin is pleased there was a gift under the tree for him. They all are happy as Daphne looks in the window from outside.


Christmas came 9 days early for me this year. I can hardly imagine a better gift than these sixty minutes. Anyone who regularly reads this commentary knows my fondness for P.K. Simonds' writing. When Mark B. Perry was still on staff it was a fight to the death on who was better, but now that he's gone . . . P.K., you the man! To add the double punch of executive producer Ken Topolsky in the director's chair, this episode could hardly miss.

I'm not the biggest fan of stunt casting, but I thought Karen Black did a great job in the role of Daphne's mother. We have seen a little more of Daphne's background and I have to give her credit for recognizing the cycle of disengagement. I only wish she would work harder to break out of it. She seemed to want to work with her mother to create that family Charlie seems to be craving. Unfortunately I think the Jablonsky family is too far gone at this point. When the bus attendant asked Daphne if she wanted a ticket, I started shouting at my television for her not to go. I know that she is unbonded/unattached, but I so want Diana to have a father and mother who love her and I want Daphne to get her act together. Fortunately, I don't think we've seen the end of this saga.

Poor Charlie. He just doesn't get it. He is so desperate to give Diana what he had as a child he'll grasp at any straw. We've never seen his parents or grandparents, but you can tell this family was filled with love. That's the only way the kids have held on as long as they have. It made me sad when he begged Daphne to let her mom stay because they hadn't had any parents or grandparents in the house for such a long time. Her mom sure isn't what I would want for my baby! It is to his credit that by the end of the show he has realized that a blood grandmother who doesn't care isn't what Diana needs, it's people like Griffin and Claudia who truly care about the family.

Griffin gets the badge of honor for the week! What a wonderful person. I have often clamored for him to be the foil for Charlie. They have so much in common, so much different, so much to teach one another. To see how much living with this family, in this house means to him made me cry for either the 3rd or 4th time in the show. For the record, I reached for the Kleenex a total of 5 times, easily a record for season 5.

The scrapbook gets its own paragraph. What an inspiration in storytelling! Griffin has been a part of this family through a tumultuous time, yet he is an outside observer. In his own way he tries to tell Charlie how much it has meant to him while also trying to keep a record of one of the most significant years of Charlie's life. Think of how far he's come from last year. A year ago Charlie was in the middle of treatment, getting sicker and alone. Now he is well, has a daughter and a woman I think he does love.

The scrapbook was also important for what it did with Julia. I thought it was interesting that she still identifies the house with the cancer and the unhappiness of her marriage. It would seem like it would signify her family, but obviously the pain that was caused by the past events is too fresh, too apparent.

Okay, last week I liked Ned, but then he was needy. Now he's diabolical and keeps Julia from her family on Christmas. I'm sorry his home life is hell, but he was devious and that's bad and I don't think I like him much anymore.

It is so good to have Claudia home. This is where she belongs, and by the end of the episode Charlie even has to admit he was wrong. It was a good move (school) to give Claudia a story, but the relationship that has developed with Griffin is the real bonus for the whole experience. She wants to be in that house so bad, a place that most people just want to get out of. I just hope they give her more to do than wash bottles and change diapers.

I'm so pleased to see Owen's story continuing. They are trying so hard with this little kid, even taking him to Sunday School it seems (although Bailey doesn't seem to identify to closely with the church) but in the end he is one confused little boy. I sometimes forget that they aren't really parents. Charlie may have a baby now and Bailey may seem like he's making all the right moves, but they are still brothers who are learning as they go with a child who has had to confront a lot of things (death, alcoholism, cancer, etc.) in his short life. Very interesting to note that Bailey is the one who confronts Owen about his behavior, but he is also the person Owen turns to when he realizes what he's done. The look on Charlie's face was hard to watch. It's clear that he wants to do what is best for Owen, but he can't quite believe how easily Owen rejects him.

Have I forgotten anything? This was a compelling episode and I've just let these thoughts run out after a single viewing. I've felt the season was a little uneven, a little flat at times. It's hard to imagine the Salingers all living separate lives. I think Claudia hit the nail on the head when she complained that they all couldn't sit down for a meal on Christmas when they used to do it with ease once a week. Perhaps this holiday will serve to draw them all back together. I'll miss Salingers and Co., but this was a fine way to head into a long 3 week hiatus. See you all in 1999.

Copyright 1998 by Rachel Vagts. All rights reserved.

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