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Modern Family recap: White Christmas

Gloria dreams of a white Christmas — until it turns into a nightmare

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ABC/Eddy Chen

Modern Family

TV Show
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In Season
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It’s holiday season for the Dunphy-Tucker-Pritchett clan, and everyone’s got a Christmas wish. So for this recap, I’m going to run through what each family member would like, and whether they received what they wanted. And on with the list!

GLORIA WOULD LIKE: A white Christmas, her first as an American

Look, all Gloria wants is a nice holiday weekend with her family in a cabin she rented. But when everyone arrives, the weather’s too hot; Jay’s about to carry out a mostly naughty, definitely-not-nice plan; and to top it all off, there’s an eccentric straggler named Fig (guest star Andrea Martin), who sticks around because Cam’s in an altruistic mood. And yet, Gloria tries to make things right by making eggnog, coaching Jay, and even getting Andy’s fiancée Beth to make it for a visit. 

Does her wish come true? Yes — but it takes her way too much effort. By the end of the episode, she manages to help everyone calm down and quiets the overheated argument between Jay and Claire by giving a passionate speech about wanting Christmas to be better than what she experienced in Colombia. Oh, and the “white” part of “White Christmas”? The “snow” they spot outside is actually ash from a forest fire, Fig informs them, but hey, close enough, right?

JAY WOULD LIKE: Claire to become CEO when he retires…but only after she passes his super-fun test

Jay thinks he has it all planned out: To make sure Claire is serious about being the boss of the closet business and not just because she’s entitled to it, Jay decides to announce to the family that he’ll be making a “Chuck Feeney” his next CEO over Claire. The thing is, Chuck isn’t real — it’s all just to see if Claire will come fighting for her job. If she does, she gets it. If she doesn’t, well, she had an easy way out. 

Does his wish come true? Yes — but at first it dramatically backfires. Claire overthinks the “Chuck Feeney” situation and instead insults Jay’s career, saying she’s happy she won’t have the chance to waste 20 years of her life becoming “the most boring person in the most boring industry.” Jay takes this to heart and fails to reconcile with his daughter until Gloria steps in. In the end, he realizes she’s absolutely serious about the job, considering how angry she got. 

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Yeah, this wasn’t made clear, but the pair — and I’m grouping them together for obvious reasons — spent the episode trying to freak Lily out, which doesn’t seem like a great wish, but then again, they’re teenage boys. They come quite close with a tale about “The Forgotten Boy” who’s trapped for eternity in a locked room, and they’re also dressed to evoke The Shining, thanks to some bland Christmas sweaters:

Does their wish come true? Nope. Lily’s not scared — and when she is scared, it’s because of something unrelated to Luke and Manny’s fictional tale. Plus, Luke gets trapped in the room himself when the Dunphys forget he’s still in the cabin on the last day.

MITCH AND CAM WOULD LIKE: Appreciation from everyone else for their flawless pipes when they sing Christmas carols

Also a paired wish, because their wishes are the same: After enduring a year of bad musical-act puns (“The Crapenters”‘ “Simon and God-awful”; “Nickelback”) because their caroling last year ended in disaster, Mitch and Cam are more than ready to be on-key and on point. They’ve chosen “Silent Night” to perform this year, and all they want is to have no distractions so they can put on the perfect show. 

Does their wish come true? Nope, not even close. First, Lily gets in the way when she (brattily) asks to sing with them — Mitch and Cam make her change her mind by offering her an early present, which turns out to be the bike meant for Joe — and then they have to deal with an unappreciative audience in Claire and company. When they finally get a few bars out, Lily screams upstairs because she’s heard noises behind a locked door (we’ll get to that in a bit). By the end of the night, Alex and Fig are the ones who sing “Silent Night,” leaving Mitch and Cam in a less-than-festive mood..

LILY WOULD LIKE: To make Mitch and Cam feel bad? To make Manny and Luke feel bad? To steal Joe’s toy? What is it you want, Lily?! You used to be so sweet!

Yeah, she doesn’t talk about wishing for anything in particular, but the girl sure knows how to take and take and take. 

NEXT: The Dunphys’ wish lists