Nothing is right. Christmas is ruined.
When Casey first mentioned the idea of Cappie coming home with them for the holidays, Rusty was all for it.
He loves Cappie. Cappie’s great. Casey’s great when she’s with Cappie. What could possibly go wrong?
1.) The Drive Home
The Cartwrights have very specific traditions that begin as soon as Casey and Rusty pull out of Cyprus Rhodes.
Only, Cappie was in the front seat and “Shotgun picks the tunes!”
So instead of listening to Christmas carols all the way home, they listened to... Cappie music. Instead of stopping for pecan logs, they got Dairy Queen.
By the time they got home, Rusty just wanted the peace and quiet of his own room.
2.) Rusty’s Roommate
Rusty spends upwards of 36 weeks a year sharing a room with other people. He doesn’t mind. Often he even enjoys it. But his bedroom at home is his Fortress of Solitude.
At least it was.
Until Rusty ran upstairs to put his stuff down and found an inflated air bed on his floor.
Cappie is right behind him, elbowing him in the ribs and saying “I get the bed, right, Spitter? I get the bed, huh, little bro? I get the bed?”
Rusty collapses onto the air bed in defeat.
3.) False Sense of Security
Things actually go okay for awhile after that.
Rusty’s parents think Cappie is charming and he’s mostly Casey’s responsibility anyway.
Casey and Rusty have switched beds for the break, which is gross, but since the air bed popped on the first night, better than sleeping on the floor.
4.) Christmas Cookies
Cappie’s parents are hippies. Which apparently means that Cappie has never had a proper Christmas cookie.
“I mean, I’ve had those red and green ones from the store? With the crystals on them?” he says one night at dinner.
All of the Cartwrights are scandalized and Rusty’s mom makes plans to bake the next day.
“Don’t worry,” she tells Cappie, “you can help.”
The Cartwrights all have Christmas cookie jobs. Mom’s is being in charge and making the doughs, Dad’s is leaving the house, Casey’s is making the Seven Layer Bars, Rusty’s is cutting out the gingerbread. He has the most efficient way of doing it, so that the maximum amount of dough is used with minimum excess. They all help decorate the gingerbread and sugar cookies.
Cappie’s job is being in the way.
“Hey, Spitter, you missed a spot. No, here.”
And causing trouble.
“Hey, Case,” Cappie waggles his dirty hands at her before smearing them down her apron.
And burning the cookies.
“I’m just going to run out and get some more butter,” Rusty’s mom tells the three of them. “Cappie, can I trust you to watch the oven and not let this batch burn?”
And awhile later there’s a charcoal scent emanating from the oven.
Technically, it isn’t Cappie’s fault that he and Rusty were so excited about the first snowfall that they went sledding before the snow was deep enough and Rusty got a face full of rock.
Still, he and Cappie spend most of Christmas Eve Eve at the E.R. and then the mall.
Church isn’t usually that big of a deal for the Cartwrights, but Christmas Eve is serious business.
And it’s embarassing. Lots of people wondering if they know you. Trying to remember all the rules from last year. That sort of thing.
Rusty hates it.
Cappie is totally charming, even as he double fists Christmas cookies during the reception afterwards.
Christmas doesn’t actually suck at all. Cappie did a good job with presents, everyone did. They laugh a lot and eat a lot and it turns out that slightly singed gingerbread is actually delicious.
That evening Rusty and Cappie collapse in the living room and Cappie flings an arm over his belly.
“That was the best Christmas ever!” he exclaims.
Even though his forehead itches from the stitches, Rusty can’t really disagree.