By Joshie Jaxon
Happy holidays, geek fans! After that last post with those awful critters, I decided to go with something more family friendly. I’m finishing out the holiday trifecta with Garfield’s X-Mas special. I watched Peanuts thanksgiving, but there were performance issues, and I couldn’t get it up. It happens. Let’s not dwell on it. I prefer Garfield anyways, he’s not nearly as preachy. He also appeals to my inner hedonist. I wasn’t alive in the 60’s or 70’s, but I am all for, if it feels good, do it. Now, even though X-Mas is after Thanksgiving, this special takes place before that one. Keep that in mind. That being said, let the geeks begin!
We open on Jon’s house, which from the outside looks like Santa threw up all over it. There’s yard decorations, signs, ribbons, a giant tree, lights, and an animatronic Santa and sleigh. Clark Griswold wishes his house looked like this. Personally, it’s a little much for me. Inside the house, Garfield’s bed looks like a present, his blanket has trees on it, there’s a giant electronic candle, and Jon enters in a elf costume. I’m all for holiday spirit, but this really is too much. Jon says that it’s X-Mas morning. Garfield says that means presents. Jon says he can’t open gifts on an empty stomach, and lays out his breakfast lasagnas so Garfield can eat his way to the tree. Once Garfield gets there, Jon goes to get his present. Garfield is so excited he’s biting his nails, er, claws. A forklift comes in carrying a giant gift. It opens to reveal a Santa throne. Jon says it will read his mind, and whatever he can think of, he’ll get. Jon demonstrates by conjuring an elf hat. Garfield throws him out of the device and conjures some jewels. That’s just for starters. It’s time for the opening number. This is what X-Mas is all about. Gimme, gimme, gimme, starts playing as Garfield conjures up a mountain of presents as the credits roll. This may be 1987 but he’s got the American consumerism down. Gadgets! Toys! Greed! Avarice! You go, kitty!
Back in reality, Jon wakes Garfield to tell him it’s X-Mas Eve morning. Garfield ain’t having it before breakfast. Jon tells him they need to pack up so they can go to the farm. Garfield quips that he’s got a sick sense of humor. Jon says the whole family will be there; mom, dad, grandma, and Doc Boy. Garfield is still less than enthused. He wonders why he has to be drug from his bed to see some stupid relatives, and why he has to go to the stupid farm. He wonders why they can’t come to where his warm bed is. He then wonders why he’s whispering. I wonder too. After all, the only one who can hear and understand him is Odie, who wasn’t even in the room. This cartoon dances with the line of reality, but given that it’s a “talking” cat, we have to just go with it. It’s easier if you just go with it.
In the present-filled car, passing the city limit, Jon says he can almost smell mom’s chestnut dressing. That’s not what Garfield smells. Jon starts going on about what he enjoys at X-Mas, including the smiles on everyone’s faces. Well, almost everyone. Garfield is a sour puss. Pun intended. Jon starts singing about his childhood traditions, and Garfield counters each point with a still modern level of cynicism. Garfield says the great thing about X-Mas is the insomnia and the anxiety that kids get from having to wait. As they pull up to the farm, Jon tells Garfield to behave. Fine, he’ll stay in the car.
Inside, we get to see the family. Jon’s mom takes the presents. Jon shakes hands with his dad, who calls him a city slicker. Jon greets his favorite brother, who reminds him that he’s Jon’s only brother. We hear grandma telling them to visit until their lips fall of for all she cares. She’ll just sit there in the dark, alone. Jon says hi, and she points out that city life has made him soft. He’s even got a belly. Grandma then promptly punches him in it, doubling him over. I like grandma. She says she does a hundred sit ups every morning, and her stomach is hard as a rock. Trying to divert attention, Jon points Garfield out. She remembers when they had wood-burning cats, a statement that still makes no sense to me. Garfield either, as he says it’s bizarre. Jon’s mom is so full of holiday cheer she could just burst. Grandma tells her to put a sock in and to go finish dinner. Garfield just smirks. Have I mentioned that I like grandma? It bears repeating.
Jon takes Garfield and Odie outside. The latter is happily bouncing through the snow, while the former is nothing but a tail above it. Just as he says things can’t get worse, he smacks into a water pipe. Inside, grandma is checking on mom’s gravy, and is preparing to add some chili powder when mom catches her. Grandma mutters that her gravy won a prize while mom’s didn’t even place, she then sprinkles the gravy with the chili powder. Atta girl! Meddle! Meddle your little heart out! Jon and Garfield return to the house. Where’s Odie? He’s out in the barn, rummaging through various junk, and pulling items aside. What’s that dog up to? Garfield hops up on the counter, and sees the gravy on the stove. He uses a finger and takes an unsanitary taste. We get a spectacular toon reaction as he breathes fire from the chili powder. He lands on the counter, and says it’s perfect. Odie sneaks back into the house, whistling his theme music.
At the table, the family sits down for dinner. Doc Boy reaches for a roll, but his mom tells him to say grace. He complains, and grandma hits him upside the head with a spoon. He thanks the lord, and we get an amen, but he breaks into some flowery thing about finding peace. Grandma hits him again, and he finally stops. Jon asks for the potatoes. Scalloped, whipped, fried, baked, or boiled? Mom always makes too much food. Since Jon can’t decide, he asks for a piece of pie. Apple, peach, pumpkin , blueberry, or banana cream? Meanwhile, on the other side of the table, grandma is sneaking bits of food to Garfield and Odie. He says the service is great, as is the cuisine, but the decor leaves something to be desired. He gives it two stars. Jon thanks his mom for dinner. Grandma loudly clears her throat, and he acknowledges her too. He offers Garfield some leftovers, but as he’s already full, he decides to pass.
Time to trim the tree. On X-Mas Eve. That seems so weird to me. Personally, I wait until at least after Thanksgiving, but to decorate the tree the day before the holiday just seems, anti-climatic. Yes, you get to enjoy it for the day, but you chopped down a tree for one day of use? Oh well, it’s a cartoon. They don’t have to worry about such things. Odie steals some wire from a box of decorations, and Garfield goes to sit with grandma. She comments on how the family is jawing like a bunch of banshees. Though, to make it through life you have to be a little crazy. Just look at her, she talks to cats. Back at the tree, Doc Boy is on all fours with dad standing on him, while Jon steadies him. Dad asks why they can’t put the star on first, and then raise the tree. Mom says it just wouldn’t be X-Mas that way. Jon decides to recruit Garfield for the mission. Like my cat, Garfield likes climbing X-Mas trees. He says if he’s not back in an hour, to send a banana cream pie. Garfield takes the star, and scales the tree like a pro. That is, until he gets to the top and looks down. He freaks, grabs the tree for dear life, and places the star. The family applauds him, and getting caught up in attention, he takes a bow, which causes him to fall down to the ground through the tree. He says whoever invented them should be drug into the street and shot. Poor kitty. Dad plugs the lights and we all get too ooh and ahh at the spectacle.
Mom, who’s name I’m gonna assume is Grace, says it’s time for a good old fashioned piano party. Doc Boy isn’t so sure. Dad smacks him upside the head and says the twenty four years of piano lessons better be worth something. Doc Boy plays and sings, badly. Grandma shoves him aside and brings the house down with her jazzy version of Oh X-Mas Tree. After grandma, it’s mom’s turn to play. She starts a nice song, as Garfield goes to sit with grandma. She doesn’t know how he knew she needed a kitty in her lap. Grandma starts telling him about her late husband, and how he was a good provider, and always made something nice for her and the kids at X-Mas. This is the time of year she misses him most. Aww, right in the feels.
Mom says it’s time for their annual tradition. It’s time for dad to read Binky, the clown who saved X-Mas. Does he have to? Yes, it’s tradition. Jon and Doc Boy wonder if Binky is gonna save X-Mas again this year. Um, is Doc Boy kinda special? Unless it’s the 25th anniversary special edition author’s cut of the book, the story won’t have changed from last time. They make poor dad do Binky’s “Heeeeey, kids!” In the right voice. Y’all are grown men. I’m all for childhood nostalgia, obviously, but you don’t need to make your dad read to you like that. Be glad your mom forced him to read at all. Mom says it’s bed time, and they cheer. Dad just rolls his eyes. Meanwhile, Odie raids the closet for the handle of a plunger. Really, what’s that dog up to?
We see Garfield and Odie sleeping next to the fireplace. Then we see the fire is out, indicating the passage of time. Odie wakes up and nuzzles Garfield to see if he’s awake. Since Garfield slept through it, Odie sneaks off to the barn. Garfield wakes up and looks out the window. Seeing where Odie went, he decides to follow. There’s a song playing about never finding an elf when you need one, as we watch Odie assemble his treasures into a present, then cover it with a bag. Garfield slips, and a box drops some letters on him. He thinks they must be at least fifty years old.
Back in the house, Jon and Doc Boy try to wake their dad, to see if they can open presents yet. He says it’s one thirty in the morning, no they can’t. They argue that any time after midnight is X-Mas morning. Dad orders them to bed. They leave, still arguing that it is technically X-Mas morning.
Cut to morning proper. Dad greets the boys asking what they want to do first, chores, breakfast, or presents. They excitedly shout, presents! Doc boy is in a bunny footie pajama, while Jon has on bunny slippers. Yes, these are supposed to be grown men. They open gifts. Jon got a sweater, dad a giant cowboy hat, grandma a bowling ball, and Doc Boy is playing with a toy plane. Yes, seriously. Let’s break this down, shall we? Assuming that he started his piano lessons at five or six, and the twenty four year thing wasn’t a joke, then at minimum, Doc Boy would be twenty nine to thirty. Minimum. Footie pajamas and a toy plane. I’m just saying. Anyhow, mom doesn’t appear to have a present. Perhaps she’ll get a new pearl necklace after the boys leave. Mom says it was a lovely X-Mas. Garfield tugs at her apron and says it’s not over. He goes and retrieves the stack of letters and gives them to grandma. She can’t believe it. They’re love letters from grandpa back when they were courting. Mom asks what they say, but a lady doesn’t reveal such things. I’m guessing they were pervy sex letters. Grandma seems like she’d be into that. Odie then takes Garfield to see what he assembled. Garfield doesn’t know what it is. Odie demonstrates that it’s a self scratcher. Garfield hugs him, and the family awwws. Garfield closes the special by saying X-Mas is not the getting, or the giving, it’s the loving.