Merry Christmas Eve, Very Special Readers! I will keep things short today with this sweet little episode from Happy Days‘s first season.
Howard Cunningham has some VERY serious Christmas rules. No one can be in the house except for family and no one can start trimming the tree until he is ready. He freaks out when he thinks someone has tried to start decorating without him, but it turns out that it’s just a rogue sock from a laundry basket.
In a rare appearance, we see Chuck Cunningham as the sock’s owner. But it’s like they were already writing him out:
I forgot that Howard Cunningham owned a hardware store. He and Richie are at the store’s holiday party (where an employee is so drunk he literally passes out. Woah, Happy Days!) Sadly, Howard’s car breaks down on the way home. But on the bright side, Fonzie is still at the shop and can fix it for them. Fonzie won’t let him pay for the job since it’s Christmas. As they head home, Richie realizes he forgot to give Fonzie his present (a three-in-one wrench). He heads back to give Fonzie the gift and sees him eating Christmas dinner alone. Richie doesn’t want to embarrass Fonzie, so he turns back to the car without giving him the gift.
Richie tries to tell his dad when he gets back in the car, but Howard is SOOO excited for family time that he doesn’t tell his dad about Fonzie until the get home. Howard is still reluctant because it’s “family time,” but he realizes what an ass he sounds like as he lectures his family on why they shouldn’t invite someone in to share their Christmas.
So Howard and Richie head over to Fonzie’s to invite him over. He tries to fake them out like he’s going to visit his cousin and is going to miss his bus. The whole thing is so pathetic. Howard ties to help Fonzie with his suitcase only to discover it is empty. And Fonzie dismisses the presumable emptiness of his suitcase by saying, “I travel light.”
Trying not to hurt Fonzie’s pride, Richie tell him that he just wishes he would wait to go to his cousin’s until in the morning because he really wants them to see their great Christmas tree. To which Fonzie replies, “I got a tree.” And it’s like the saddest tree this side of Peanuts.
Earlier in the episode, we saw Fonzie give gifts to all of the waitresses at Arnold’s, Richie, Potsie, and Ralph. But no one had anything in return to give to Fonzie. (I guess we can assume that Richie picked something up at the hardware store receiving Fonzie’s gift at the diner.)
They finally get him to spend Christmas with them without insulting him, but telling him that they need him to fix the Santa on their lawn. It has some kind of electrical problem this year and it’s a very important tradition. By the time he has fixed Santa (and their Christmas tree lights), Fonzie has missed the last bus. So they’re all like well, guess you have to stay here. Ever prideful, Fonzie still resists. And then Howard “Family Time” Cunningham is like hey let me drive you!
And then Fonzie (who obviously really wanted to stay) is like oh man, it’s snowing too hard. It would be wrong for me to make you drive me. And then Marian is just like finally done with all this crap and she tells Fonzie that he is staying and that’s the end of it.
But the best part is when Howard lets Fonzie take over all of the Christmas traditions. Fonzie wants to do EVERYTHING and Howard gladly passes the baton. He realizes how fortunate he is to have such a lovely family and he’s finally happy to share that with someone outside of it.
And if you’re not in tears when Howard asks Fonzie to say grace and all Fonzie says is, “Hey God,” you’re literally the grinch. I’m like sobbing right now.
Very Special Holiday Lesson: I mean this is the same lesson as Sabrina‘s episode, but this one made me cry. Brb. Crying.