I realized a while ago that doing the fan reviews allows me to watch the episodes in a more deliberate way, paying attention to things I might not otherwise have noticed, so I thought it would be fun to go back during the hiatus and do similar reviews of eps from earlier seasons. I don’t know how many I’ll do (and we’re still going to be doing the Essential Bones posts, too) but first up, I wanted to do one of the Christmas episodes.
And here’s the first thing I learned: although I love all three of them, I’ve tended to think my very favorite one was The Goop on the Girl, so that was the one I was going to review. But then I watched The Santa in the Slush while wrapping gifts (doing so while watching Bones Christmas eps is one of my personal traditions) and hmm… It turns out that my favorite Christmas episode is whichever one I’m watching at the time.
Watching this S3 episode from the vantage point of mid-S10 is both bittersweet and deeply satisfying. I watch Angela and Hodgins discuss whether two people are a family knowing that while they later spend nearly two years apart, that they’re now making ornaments with Michael Vincent; I watch Booth and Brennan’s kiss beneath the mistletoe thinking both about the one still to come in front of the Hoover as well as the one they shared even later in front of friends and family, after Aldo says, ”as usual, she’s right.”
I watch Booth struggle with being separated from Parker at Christmas knowing that however complicated his time with his son still is (due to living on separate continents), he will someday know the joy of Christmas with a child you’re raising full-time; however annoyed I am with Max’s manipulation two years later (I dislike him in Goop), here, I want to tell him that there are many Christmases with family and kids and love in his future.
That’s all deeply satisfying to me.
Thinking about the story in its own context, though, and not in relation to what comes later, what generally comes to mind is the kiss, Sweets in an elf hat, and the whole end scene. But what struck me this year is the larger theme of the episode, which I think is, “we make miracles for others.”
There’s an early hint of this in Max’s casual reveal to Brennan that one of her treasured childhood memories – getting the toolbox for Christmas – was actually brought about because Russ loved his little sister enough to give her what was to have been one of his gifts.
The focus then shifts to Brennan’s efforts to get Max what he wants for Christmas. It’s not easy, because he wants the impossible: a family Christmas, with kids and lights and joy and everyone there. But he and Russ are both in jail, and Brennan? She’s planning on escaping all of it by going to Peru.
Booth, meanwhile, wants something less technically impossible, but just as unlikely: he wants to see Parker, whom Rebecca is planning to take to Vermont.
Powerless to change that, he focuses on helping Brennan to help her family, because in her ‘sad little girl’ face, he sees that, Peru aside, she wants the same things Max does:
“Your dad, he wants the whole Christmas package. You know – the tree, the kids, the presents – the whole shebang.”
“Well the whole shebang isn’t possible.”
“Christmas is about making the impossible happen.” (Booth and Brennan)
He directs her to Caroline, knowing that while there will be a cost involved, Caroline can provide the place for their Christmas. She does, and then Brennan runs with it, working throughout the rest of the episode to get everything else in order…all the while still planning on going to Peru herself.
It’s not that she’s not willing to be there, when she thinks their party will be in the afternoon. But when they can only get the trailer after her plane departs…that’s when she finally has to choose between what she’s always used to keep her safe emotionally, and in what will truly make all of them, herself included, happy. And she chooses joy rather than the risk-free life she’s most comfortable with.
Seriously. The entire episode is about Brennan trying to make a miracle for Max, with help from Booth and a puckish elf named Caroline. Because that’s what Christmas is.
I sort of love that. And then Booth steps in to do the one thing she couldn’t: provide a tree. Brennan’s worked 90% of a miracle for Max – trailer, kids, both she and Russ being there – but she can’t do anything to get around the tree ban (not even squeezing Booth’s buttocks), so he handles that part. For Brennan. Did he want to help make a joyous Christmas for Max and Russ, both of whom he respects? Sure. Was he thinking particularly of the two little girls having a tree? This is Booth, so of course.
But the bottom line…the tree is for Brennan, because he wants her to have a magical, miraculous Christmas, even as she’s worked to do the same for her father.
(Also, since Caroline had said ‘no tree, even if you squeeze his buttocks,’ and then Booth provided the tree…I believe – Ryn logic here – that means Brennan owed Booth a good buttocks squeezing for the tree. Just saying.)
Anyway, I think the reason I was so struck by this, this year, is that I’ve become increasingly aware of the role we play in making miracles for other people. It’s been an ugly few months – riots, killings, terrorism…a never-ending list of all the ways people can be terrible to one another gleefully offered up by the media. And yet…and yet. There’s also:
- a basketball team making dreams come true for a rival
- a woman taking the time to hunt down the owner of a lost wallet, returning the money he was going to use for his kids’ Christmas
- an elderly woman making something good for teens out of her own sorrow
- people all across the country paying off layaway accounts for strangers
I believe in God; I believe in miracles. But I also believe that God often works his miracles through us. Since that’s so, it seems like making miracles for other people isn’t something that needs to be tied to one faith, nor even one time of year.
Sweets says, “As adults, we’re imbued by the pragmatic routines of life, which makes it difficult for us to regard anything with child like wonder. But, you know, it’s all right for us to try. We put on silly hats and drape trees with sparkly lights and wrap gifts in garish paper and that’s good for us. It’s not only all right to allow children the transient experience of innocence and joy – it’s our responsibility.”
Taking that one step further, I suspect that for many of us, the reason this time of year is marked with child-like wonder is because it is the time of year when we try to make others happy, when we try to find ways to make miracles – large and small – both for those we love and, sometimes, for perfect strangers.
And maybe that means the new year’s resolution that would make us all happiest in the end isn’t losing weight but continuing to try to make miracles for other people, all through the year.
Merry Christmas, everyone.
“My father is a murderer and a thief.”
“Well, murderers and thieves, they get Christmas too. In fact, it’s kinda the point.” (Brennan and Booth)
“So Santa was definitely murdered. Someone did not like their present.” (Cam)
“It’s not a LIE lie, Bones. It’s more like everybody agreeing that up to a certain age, kids deserve to live a different kind of truth.” (Booth)
“I have a puckish side that will not be denied.” (Caroline)
“Congratulations. I hear you have a suspect in the Santa slaying.”
“Yeah, well, it looks like the Easter Bunny has nothing to worry about.” (Caroline and Booth)