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RECAP: The Fosters Christmas Special Offers Secret Santas, Drama, and Thongs 

Recap: Christmas Comes Early and Dramatically in The Fosters Christmas Special

Recap: Christmas Comes Early and Dramatically in The Fosters Christmas Special

Take a shot of eggnog every time you get emotional!


The Fosters had its first Christmas special last night, and as per usual with this show, it was even more wonderful than we could have imagined. First off, it's all one big flashback that takes place before the big Brallie kiss o' August 2014. Post-kiss, Callie admits she loves Brandon but he's thrown by the confession and has to 'think about this.' And by 'think about this,' he means randomly relive an Christmas episode's worth of memories. Thanks, Brandon! It was really sweet of you to be so thoughfully thematic. 

Now, to make sure we know this is a Christmas episode, we flash back right into Callie and Jude's first Christmas with the Fosters. This covers a few different bases in terms of exposition, letting us know that there's apparently a Christmas yard competition that Jesus is super gung-ho about, and also that Stef's Mom, who's spending Christmas with the family, is a little too eager to spend money frivolously. It also establishes that Mariana does not believe in Jesus' ability to buy a decent gift, and that this year, the crew will be participating in a family-wide Secret Santa. All caught up? Great. One little issue is that this episode really puts a lot of faith in us to remember exactly where this episode falls on the previous timeline, which we can kind of tell by Brandon still wearing a sling around his damaged arm/and the fact that Jude knows that he and Callie have different fathers. Other than that, just be ready to guess a lot throughout the night. But it doesn't matter, because The Fosters is back in fine form and it's been way too long since we've seen cereal being spooned so artistically in a theme song.

Enter two big subplots! Stef and Lena confront the fact that this year Lena's parents will not be spending Christmas with the family because they've decided to spend it with Lena's half brother Nathan, with whom she's apparently fallen out. She's trying not to let it get to her, but - spoiler alert - it's going to get to her. Stef gets a surprise when she learns her recently deceased father had 150k in his account, but even moreseo when she learns it was left, potentially on accident, to his divorced wife. Remember the issue Stef had with her mom spending too much money? Now times that by 150k.

Callie, Jude, and Brandon venture off in search of their Secret Santa gifts, but they're finding the $40 limit a bit restrictive (don't know what it says about me that I thought that was quite a large Secret Santa budget). Brandon and Callie reminisce over their days of being young lovers rather than young siblings, and Jude finds himself eyeing the $100 bracelet Callie was previously admiring. Callie does pick up a small wind-up toy for Daphne, who lets her in on a secret a little bigger than Santa. She's been visiting the park where her two-year-old daughter Tasha plays even though she's not allowed to see her. Callie lets her know this is a bad idea and she really needs to stop until the state allows her, so we can all be pretty sure she's definitely not going to stop.

Mariana has decided to nip this 'Jesus can't buy presents' storyline in the bud and gives him a list of presents he can give her. He makes a trade - he'll give her the $40 in cash if she'll help him decorate the house and win the cash prize. Game on. In the meantime, Lena and Stef are starting to get overwhelmed by their subplots, with Stef railing on and on about how irresponsible she expects her mother will be with her father's money, and Lena vehemently expressing that half siblings are not the same thing as full siblings. Sadly, Jude overhears this exchange and is driven into futher angst over his relationship with Callie. This poor adorable child is just not allowed to catch a break. 

Stef realizes Jude overheard this, and confronts Lena about her use of vocabulary in a house full of adopted and foster children. Lena explains a little more about her relationship with Nathan (they didn't grow up together and he was always rude when visiting), but Stef tries to talk her down and get her to see some perspective here. Lena does go talk to Jude - who now has the bracelet Callie was admiring - and has a sit-down about her misinformed use of language. Jude explains that maybe Nathan was so rude because he was jealous of Lena growing up with their dad, thus helping Lena to see that she was being ignorant because she was jealous that her parents were spending Christmas with him. It's truly not an episode of The Fosters until Jude is wiser than us all. Lena also explains that he doesn't need to feel like he has to buy Callie's love, so the next day he goes to return the $100 bracelet. However, instead of chewing him out for clearly stealing, the young, pleasantly over-it cashier deems the bracelet on a very momentary sale for 60% off, falling right in Jude's price range. Side note: this character is a Christmas Angel and I would not mind an entire spin-off about her life.

Get excited for a super uncomfortable/tear-jerky Christmas dinner! The group presents their gifts to each other, but Stef gets a little agitated with Lena's gift of diamond earrings exceeds her idea of budgeting. This turns into a massive money fight which is only egged on by Stef's mom. Stef goes ballistic/a little sexually inappropriate all over the festive situation (nothing says Christmas like discussing your sex life around the dinner table surrounded by your children), Lena cries in the faces of many innocent carolers, and dinner ends up tragically burnt. However, the bummery Christmas dinner turns around when Stef's mom reveals her gift to Stef this year; college investment accounts set up for all the children. Everything's okay now! And we're all kinda crying a little, because for some reason The Fosters can make even college savings emotional. 

Callie invites Daphne to her house for Christmas, but Daphne has other plans, namely kidnapping her daughter from the playground. She explains that she learned she hasn't been allowed to see her daughter because her foster family is planning to adopt her, but doesn't really have a next step in this plan. Callie and Brandon swoop in to help, and together they drive Tasha back to her family. After a tearful goodbye, Daphne gives Tasha the toy Callie bought her and sends her to the door. She's received by her family, and Daphne dashes away before she can get caught. Safe to say 'ding dong ditch' has never been more of a relief to a family though.

Back to the house decorating contest! Jesus is confronted by an elderly neighbor who believes he's stealing his Christmas decorations in order for a leg up on the competition (which is randomly so important). The neighbor announces he'll be staying up all night to make sure there's no tomfoolery. Jesus is all,  'Two can play this game,' and decides to camp out as well. Mariana visits Jesus in his tent and tells him she remembers when they still lived with Anna and she abandoned them on Christmas. Jesus made her feel better back then, and that was gift enough (1, 2, 3...awwww). How have we gone this long without a little Mariana sentimentality in our lives? Later that night, both Jesus and the neighbor discover that the decoration-stealers are actually some random punk kids and then are able to bond now that the suspicion is gone. The neighbor expresses some lovely feelings about how times have changed to accept all different sorts of families, but seems sad that he can't seem to spend Christmas with his own. In a selfless, touching, and totally expected moment, once the neighbor returns home Jesus surrenders his beloved competition to his new neighbor pal. You go, Christmas spirit. 

To make sure everyone's heart is truly warmed, Lena calls her mom on Christmas and asks to speak to Nathan. Everything's so resolved right now! Oh, except that one thing that started the entire episode. Outside the house, Callie brings Brandon his gift of a cheesie piano tie that he can wear when he plays for the junior symphony. Still rocking a smashed up arm, Brandon's pessimistic about his ability to ever play piano again, but Callie insists he can't give up. She also didn't just get him a tie and next presents him with a beautiful metronome (which I Googled and totally looks like it was more than $40, but okay, fine). Callie asks him to pinky promise that no matter how rough the road gets, they can't let each other give up on their dreams. If you listen closely, you can hear Brallie fans everywhere still squealing over how cute that was. However, now we're back in the present because Christmas flashbacks can't last forever, and Brandon and Callie are in a more dramatic place than ever. But wait! Now everyone's in an even more dramatic place than ever because the episode ends with an ambulance pulling up to Callie's dad's house. Don't tell me we have to wait until January 19th to find out what happens next! Oh, we definitely do? Dammit. But till then, a happy holidays to you all! 


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