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'Modern Family': Deck the halls of parenting

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The holidays are about good cheer, spending time with loved ones, being engulfed in a little holiday cheer and, more importantly, going crazy.

There's just something about the holidays that bring out the crazy in every family. Maybe it's because Mom has to do all the shopping for the perfect gifts. Or because Dad has to deal with the in-laws and extended family, and that brings out the Grinch in him.

Or maybe (if you’re anything like my parents or the Dunphys), it's because you're in a bitter tug of war with the misbehaving kids.

As I child, I always managed to drive my parents crazy in some aspect. But unlike the Dunphy kids, I wasn’t potentially smoking and burning a hole into the couch. I was the kid who couldn’t wait to open presents and therefore ripped them open. And the one who broke an ornament or two (because I was eating all the candy canes on the tree) and the revolving pedestal for the fake Christmas tree. (Sorry, Mom and Dad.)

To curb the misbehaving kids, Phil took a rule from what I call the spineless rulebook of parenting. I’ve always been amazed at parents who try to discipline their kids. My favorite is when they do the count -- you know, when they say, “I’m going to give you till the count of three to stop doing blah, blah, blah. One …. two …. three ….” You have to drag out the numbers as you count -- either to sound really threatening or to come up with another form of punishment.

But does that ever work with today’s kids? No. But don’t tell Phil that.

It didn’t stop him from proclaiming, “If you don't tell us who is responsible for the cigarette burn on the sofa, Christmas is canceled.”

Now in my household, that threat wouldn’t have been so idle and I would have sung like a little canary if Christmas was at stake. No presents? No eggnog? No marathon of “A Christmas Story”? Sure, the family part is a plus and the grub is tasty, but no presents as a kid? Screw that. He did it!!!

Immediately you know that Phil's threat is an idle one, but the beauty of the show is that the characters know they are often the butt of the joke, so watching Claire and Phil trying to rationalize having Christmas while escaping punishing one of the children on a holiday offered more than one laugh.

As much as I wanted to pretend otherwise, I was severely disappointed in Fred Willard’s guest spot. I was excited when I heard that Willard would be the Dunphy patriarch; it was perfect casting. Phil fans certainly would want to see who created the lovable klutz, and Willard was more than perfect. But was Willard even on screen for more than five minutes? Through a computer worst of all! So much for the physical comedy that was sure to happen between the two. Major disappointment. Here’s hoping the short spot leaves room for more visits from Willard. If not, that would be a wasted guest spot in an overflowing list of guests that is becoming mildly overrated.

While Claire and Phil threaten to not celebrate the holiday, Jay spends the episode refuting Gloria's and Manny’s attempts to infuse the holidays with their native Colombian traditions, and of course he never holds back his sharp tongue, no matter how offensive it is. "Burrito, burr-eye-to."

With Jay holding on so tightly to the traditions that he instilled on his now-grown children, it was sweet seeing Manny entertain the thought of celebrating the holidays Jay-style -- after all, Jay, in his own sweet, somewhat confusing way, showed Manny that he sees him as his own and he just wanted the holidays to be special for his new family, even if he sort of went insane.

But isn’t that what the holidays are all about?  

-- Gerrick Kennedy (Follow me on Twitter @GerrickKennedy).

Photo credit: ABC

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Absolutely loved this episode. This show shines, week after week.

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