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a very dunphy christmas

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Phil: The thing about Claire is, she can get a little -- pushy, when it comes to Christmas shopping.

Claire: I believe that there's a perfect present out there for each person. This year, I intend to find them all.

Phil: This year, do you think you could try and avoid trampling people to get to the presents?

Claire:  That was one time!

Phil holds up seven fingers to the camera behind Claire's back.

*

“Remember,” Claire says, to her family as they stand at the doorway. “You all need to be on your best behaviour today. It’s Christmas.”

The doorbell rings, and Claire turns to answer it.

Haley rolls her eyes.

“I saw that!” Claire calls out.

Haley looks unnerved. “How did she do that?” she whispers to Alex.

Alex rolls her eyes and points to the mirror where Haley is reflected.

“Saw that too!” Claire sing-songs. Alex does a quick double-take of the mirror’s range of vision and, when she realises that it is impossible for Claire to have seen her from that angle, looks appropriately freaked out. “I... don’t actually know,” she admits to Haley.

“Huh?” says Haley, looking up from the text message she is typing on her cell.

“Never mind,” Alex says, shaking her head.

The relatives are already descending. “Merry Christmas!” says Gloria, as soon as they open the door. She and Claire hug. Phil raises his arm as if to hug Jay but then drops it as Jay shakes his head.

Manny is wearing a suit with a piece of holly in place of a pocket square. "Many happy returns of the day," he greets Luke.

Luke stares at him for a minute. "Ho, ho, ho?" he offers tentatively.

Cam and Mitchell are next, arriving with Lily in tow. She is dressed as a Christmas elf – looking resplendent in a green and red dress.

“Oh, she has elf ears on her cap,” coos Phil.

 “Cam went a little overboard on Christmas this year,” says Mitchell.

 Cam shoots him a reproving look. “You say that like it is possible to go overboard on Christmas.”

 *

 Alex and Haley are sitting at the table, Haley is swinging on her chair, texting again, while Alex is systematically sneaking cookies and rearranging the platters. The perfect crime.

"Has anyone seen my elf?"  Cam’s voice comes wafting down the hallway. "I repeat. Santa has a MISSING ELF. This is a crisis situation."

Haley thumps her head down on the table.

"You haven't seen anything yet," Alex predicts gleefully, and then laughs. "Oh, wow."

Haley lifts up her head to see what Alex has spotted and then thumps her forehead against the table, harder this time. There is an audible thud.

*

Cam: It's for Lily, of course. And Luke, maybe, although I don't know if he's still a true believer. Manny wised up years ago, but Luke can be a little slower on the uptake.

Mitchell: You do this for you. You love dressing up.

Cam: This isn't just dressing up, Mitchell. Santa is a religious icon. Tradition is very important to children.

Mitchell: Oh, excuse me. I didn't realise it was a Christmas tradition for Santa to wear a rhinestone belt.

Cam: What, Santa's not allowed to look good on Christmas?

*

There's a stunned silence as the family spot Cam.

Mitchell blinks at him dazedly. "Cam - I mean, Santa - are you wearing platform boots?"

“There’s my little elf,” Cam-as-Santa crows. “There’s my Lily-kins.”

Cam starts belting out All I Want For Christmas, swinging Lily up on one hip and grabbing Mitchell with his other arm to pull him into a dance. The rhinestones on his belt are glittering brighter than the Christmas tree.

Jay whispers to Phil, "Do you think Mrs Claus knows she's a beard?"

Phil looks confused. "Mrs Claus doesn't have a beard. I think she wears a bonnet or something."

"I can't wait to open my present!" says Luke.

There's a crashing sound in the kitchen.

Phil starts to rise to his feet. "Claire, honey? You okay in there?"

"I'm fine," Claire calls back. "Just dropped a plate."

*

Claire: I forgot to get Luke's present.

*

Claire starts opening cupboards and drawers, muttering present for Luke, present for Luke. She pulls out a colander, does a quick check behind her to see if anyone is looking, and then experimentally puts it on her head.

"Claire," says Gloria, as she comes into the room. Claire whips off the colander and starts bustling around in the drawer. "Do you think this will be okay for Luke? It's a remote control car."

"Show-off," says Claire.

"What?"

"I mean, do you need batteries?" asks Claire, handing her some from the drawer.

*

Claire: I love Luke. And I found him the perfect present. I can vividly recall being at the store and looking at it, and thinking 'This is the perfect present for Luke. I'll have to remember this.' Except, clearly, I didn't.

*

"Luke, you're probably wondering what you're getting from your father and I this year," Claire begins.

Luke squints up at her. "Not really," he says uncertainly.

"Luke, there’s no easy way to say this. Your father and I don't have a present for you."

"Claire," begins Phil.

"No, Phil. I want to finish," says Claire, holding up her hand. “We just – didn’t get you a present this year, Luke.”

Cam gasps.

Gloria holds Manny's hand a little tighter.

Haley looks horrified. "Or me?"

"Haley! Of course not. I've got your present," Claire says quickly. "And yours, Alex," she reassures Alex, who's just opened her mouth to protest. "I've got everyone a present - a perfect present. Everyone except my only son. I feel terrible."

"... terribly excited," interjects Phil, handing Luke a present. "You know your mum, what a joker. Like we'd forget your present! Here you go, buddy."

Luke tears it open and grins. "Wow! Thanks dad, thanks mom," he says. "This is exactly what I wanted."

*

Phil: Luckily for Claire, I’m still a child at heart.

Flashback, as we see Phil sitting on the couch in front of the television and watching in fascination as an advertisement comes on for a children's action figure that shoots real fireballs. We see Phil purchasing it from a toy store, smuggling it into the house and painstakingly wrapping it up.

Phil reaches into his pocket and pulls out a gift tag, and holds it up to the camera.

It reads 'To Phil Dunphy, Love Phil Dunphy."

Phil: Guess I won't be needing this anymore.

Phil tears up the gift tag, and then dusts his hands together in satisfaction.

Phil: My work here is done.

 

The curtains go up in flames behind him.

Luke: ...uh-oh.