Bay Window: it’s Christmastime and Riley is going off the rails with excitement. In order to keep her grounded, Maya pinches her every time she mentions their annual Secret Santa. Maya gives Riley a suitcase, because she’s giving her the gift of herself; in order to avoid spending Christmas with Katie and Shawn, she plans on hiding at the Matthews apartment. According to Maya, that’s the only way to keep the Hart Christmas Crazy away from Shawn.
Topanga’s Cafe: the kids pull their Secret Santa picks. Riley declares this as a way to prove how well they all know each other, which inevitably means that she’ll either be proven wrong or there will be a major miscommunication. Zay realizes that he doesn’t know Smackle that well and is shocked when Farkle rejects his request for help. Farkle then turns around and explains to Smackle that he has no idea what to get Zay.
Apartment Matthews: Riley decides she’s going to take Maya home to Katie and Shawn, but Maya refuses—she claims that she and Katie don’t know how to celebrate Christmas like normal people. They throw snowballs at the Rockefeller Center ice rink, they hang out at the diner, and Katie pretends to be Gimbo the Elf instead of Santa. Riley isn’t about Maya’s Christmas downer; she calls for a Christmas miracle and throws a handful of glitter in the air.
“We want to show you what went wrong in your Christmas past so you can improve your Christmas present,” Riley said. The Matthews along with Ava proceed to act out Maya and Katie’s past, during which Maya discovers that Katie sacrificed a lot one year to make sure Maya could go to the right school. Maya is grateful, thanking Katie for giving her all of her friends.
Topanga’s Cafe: the kids exchange their Secret Santa gifts. Maya receives a broken clock and the instructions on how to fix it, Zay gets Magic the Gathering, Smackle gets a guide to manners and etiquette (which she immediately throws at Zay) and Farkle gets a menorah, which immediately upsets him.
With everyone now annoyed about their Secret Santa gifts, Riley declares that they have to find the good in each gift. She starts off, explaining that she bought the menorah for Farkle because she always wants to know Farkle. She started researching Judaism after the Cultural Fair in order to understand this other part of him that they previously hadn’t known about. Farkle and Smackle got Zay the Magic the Gathering set in order to include him more in their world—with Lucas away in Texas for the holidays, they thought he might get lonely. Zay bought Smackle the manners book, but annotated it because he likes who she is and doesn’t want her to change. Smackle got the clock for Maya because she’s beautiful and broken. “You already know that time fixes a lot of things—just thought you could return the favor,” she said. If we could all avoid the “beautiful and broken” cliche in the future, I would highly appreciate it. They all agree that the Secret Santa wasn’t such a bad idea.
Apartment Matthews: Cory and Auggie act out Shawn’s past Christmases for Katie and Maya, to show them that his past wasn’t perfect either. All he’s ever wanted is to be around people who love him. Maya asks Katie to go home so they can spend the day with Shawn. It’s a nice moment, but painfully obvious that Rider Strong wasn’t available or that they didn’t feel like paying him for the Christmas episode this time around—you can’t tell me that Shawn wouldn’t be at the Matthews’ with Cory, Topanga, his wife and his stepdaughter. It wouldn’t happen.
This year’s Christmas special was better than I was expecting. When I saw the title of the episode, I was a little concerned that they were going to try far too hard to hammer the story into a series of pop culture references. While the story with Maya thinking she and Katie are too “crazy” for Shawn is getting a little overdone, the Secret Santa with the kids was sweet, though I don’t know how realistic their in depth discussion of their feelings was. I’d call this one a win, considering the holiday episodes of Girl Meets World usually get to be a bit much.
Boy Meets World Throwback Factor: low—Shawn is discussed but never seen.