About Christmas TV History

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Everybody Loves Raymond Christmas (2000)

Everybody Loves Raymond originally ran from 1996-2005.  Reruns still air nationally on TVLand and elsewhere.

The family sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond produced eight Christmas episodes during its nine season run, but one stands out to me today.  As you may know, I've been discussing noteworthy adaptations of the short story The Gift of the Magi, a Christmas tale written by the great American author O.Henry.  Out of the dozens of versions of O.Henry's account, I've shared the 1952 film O.Henry's Full House, the 1978 TV movie The Gift of Love, a segment within 1999's Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas, Jim Henson Production's 1977 hit Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas, the 1996 operatic TV version from Finland entitled The Gift of the Magi, the sitcom Alice from a 1979 episode, the 1974 Christmas episode of the family drama Little House on the Prairie, and the 1955 Christmas episode of The Honeymooners.  Do you have a favorite so far?  Maybe the 2000 episode "Christmas Present" from Everybody Loves Raymond will change your mind.

Robert says he knows what Debra is planning on giving Ray for Christmas--an ugly neck tie!

In this fifth season episode, Ray and his brother Robert are planning an upcoming weekend golf outing in Myrtle Beach for the guys.  Worried about having his wife's permission to go away for an entire weekend, Ray strategizes to buy Debra an extravagant Christmas gift to bribe her.  When Debra says all she wants for Christmas is a crock pot, Ray decides to buy her something even better, hoping it's even better than what Debra is getting him--so he can better manipulate her.  Robert confesses that he saw Debra wrapping gifts earlier and she said she's giving Ray a striped necktie.  Ray is convinced his scheme will work.

While Debra opens her big gift, Ray makes eye contact with his brother--hoping Debra is impressed enough to let him go golfing.

On Christmas morning, Debra opens a gift of a crock pot as well as an expensive set of cookware.  She's very happy with her extravagant gift.  Next, Robert opens a gift from under the tree--but it's the ugly necktie!

Uh-oh!  the necktie was for Robert--not Raymond.

Debra admits that when Robert saw her wrapping the gift, she lied and said it was for Raymond so that Robert would be surprised when he opened the gift on Christmas morning.  The next gift from under the Christmas tree is for Ray--it's his first DVD player and a set of his favorite movies on DVD!

It turns out Debra has given her husband a very extravagant and expensive gift too.

Debra excuses herself from the room to go into the kitchen to begin cooking Christmas dinner, and Ray and Robert realize their plan failed.  Ray's strategy to manipulate Debra--essentially buying her cooperation with an expensive gift--didn't work since he underestimated her gift to him.

Ray & Robert's father Frank offers his own crazy views on where the brothers went wrong.

Robert & Ray begin to speculate on the misstep of their plan.
Pondering where he went wrong, Ray begins to conclude that his wife Debra must also want something from him--why else would she give such an extravagant gift?  Suspicious, Ray goes into the kitchen to confront his wife about what scheme she may be up to.

Ray confronts Debra about what she wants in exchange for the expensive gift?  "What is the cost---to me?"
Ray asks if he can go with his brother and their friends on a three-day weekend golf outing out of town and she agrees--though it will mean she will be alone with their three young children.  Sensing Raymond's surprise, she asks if Ray bought her the expensive cookware set as a bribe for the golf weekend.  In turn, Ray asks Debra what she wants, refusing to believe that she bought him the expensive DVD player without motive.

Debra claims she bought the big gift because she loves him, acting hurt at the insinuation that she's manipulative.
But the more Debra denies being manipulative, heaping more and more guilt on Ray, the more Ray becomes convinced that Debra loves playing the martyr--a role that allows her to feel superior to him.

Debra sets everything right.

Hilariously, with this emotional revelation, Debra agrees that Ray may have some truth in his accusation.  To make things right, Debra insists that Ray cancel his golf trip--and he should be more responsible around the house and perform even more household chores and childcare duties to keep Debra from ever being able to play the martyr again!

Poor O.Henry!  Maybe someone should have bought Debra and Ray a copy of The Gift of the Magi.

This is a very clever anti-Gift of the Magi episode, as I see it.  This gift-giving scenario is the opposite of one about making a sacrifice for the benefit of another.  Debra and Ray give lavish gifts--not out of love--but to manipulate the other to do what benefits them!  Yet, this funny story isn't so detached from reality that we all can't appreciate how gift-giving can sometimes result in this situation.  Have you ever manipulated someone with a Christmas gift? Or, been manipulated by an expensive gift?

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