The Middle 5.09 Review: “The Christmas Tree”

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This was my absolute favorite Christmas with the Hecks for The Middle!  Taking a page straight out of the Griswold family handbook, they hilariously chose a huge tree, that when they cut the cord in the house it broke out to break several picture frames on the walls.  Physical comedy moments like this combined with a warm family ending to make this my favorite holiday episode of every show this season so far.

Mike is happy that they’re spending Christmas at home without any relatives coming to visit for once.  I can relate, because I always hate the Christmases when we have to rush with opening presents on Christmas morning just so we can make the drive an hour away to a family member’s house for dinner.  Like Mike, the best Christmas I could have would be spent at home with just my immediate family.

As usual, Axl never wants to be home with his family, which made me think of my brother.  He rarely ever wants to be at our house ever since he moved out.  My mom is a lot like Frankie in the sense that she wants him to want to spend time at home, although they’ve never sat down like Frankie and Axl to hash out a schedule.   Frankie doesn’t let Axl’s “snarkasm” (snark + sarcasm) keep him from getting out of his promised family time, but it does eventually wear her down.

Sue, who was initially so excited for Christmas, ends up developing an allergy to their tree.  After Mike thinks he’s helping her out by getting rid of the tree, she freaks out that she’s inadvertently ruined Christmas.  To make it fair for everyone, Sue boxes herself into the dining room across from the living room behind a plastic bubble so that she can still see the tree without constantly sneezing.  This was pretty funny, especially when some cheerleaders knock for Axl and think that his family is hosting a sick girl for the holidays.  They call Sue “bubble girl”, because as usual, they’ve never noticed her in school nor have they even heard that Axl has a sister.

Brick has been wrapped up in a Ponzi scheme of various Christmas related fundraisers.  To pay for the wrapping paper that Frankie unknowingly used up, he starts to sell popcorn cans.  The money for the popcorn needs to be paid back next, so he sells peppermint bark and so on until he finally catches a break when he scored free poinsettia plants from a park.  Frankie was horrified to hear that “park” he means is the cemetery.  While it was a cute and silly storyline to give Brick something to do, I would have thought such a smart kid would at least know that it’s not okay to steal things from cemeteries.

The Middle has thankfully never been a sappy family sitcom, but this episode had just the right amount of sap that’s expected around the holidays.  Just as Mike gives up forcing Axl to spend time with the family on Christmas Eve, he chokes up while reciting the lyrics to “Cat’s in the Cradle”.  Axl surprises everyone when he voluntarily chooses to stay home instead of going to his friend’s bonfire party.  It turns out Axl may not be as dense as he seems, because he really was touched by the message of “Cat’s in the Cradle”.  I hope everyone learned a little something from this episode and gets to enjoy time with their own families this holiday season!

[Photo via Michael Ansell /ABC]

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