Thursday, December 8, 2016

Boy Meets World ~ A Very Topanga Christmas (A 25 Days of Shitmas Post from Icon vs. Icon's Dylan Lyles)

“Perhaps he realized that the spirit of love brings compromise. That when two people grow together they start their own traditions”
Mr. Feeny always had the greatest advice. Now, we all grew up with our own family traditions around the holidays. To setting up the Nativity scene “just right” to picking up a small jug of eggnog at the local convenience store and never actually drinking it. These are the memories that make the holidays oh so very special. So what happens when we meet someone who we wish to spend the rest of our life with? What happens when their traditions happen to get in the way of ours? This is a topic that truly hit home with me. My girlfriend of 5 years and I have a few different traditions that we hold dear during the holidays; one of which is the fake tree vs real tree debacle. Well, back in 1997 ABC addressed this very topic with a few of my favorite characters. For my entry into the Shitmas special I decided to tackle one of my favorite Christmas specials of all time, Boy Meets World’s “A Very Topanga Christmas”. 
Topanga is coming to spend Christmas with the Matthews, and everyone is excited! Especially Cory who is looking to surprise her with a promise ring to show that they’ll be together forever. Did they really need a promise ring though? I think we all knew that Cory and Topanga would be together forever. They’re perfect for one another, or so we thought. Topanga arrives excited as ever to spend Christmas with her love. Alan (Cory’s father) suggests they toast to Topanga’s first Christmas with the Matthews with some of their famous Matthews’ Eggnog. This is the beginning of the downward spiral. Topanga asks if they’ve ever tried cider, because in her house cider is a tradition. Now, here is my problem with Topanga: her passive aggressiveness towards the one she supposedly “loves” ridiculous. “I don’t want to step on tradition but in my house we always have cider”. I mean I get that she’s away from her family for the holiday but she made that decision. Compromise is the theme of the episode but I feel, overall, she comes off as a complete bitch about the whole thing. But…….I digress.

Cory, being the amazing boyfriend he is, joins his brother Eric in going to get Topanga her “precious cider”. Before leaving he asks if she needs anything else. She says no, and apologizes but cider is her family’s one tradition. Well, that and having a perfect evergreen tree………… At this point she notices the Matthews’ aluminum tree and freaks out! Well guess what….they drive to Vermont for this girl to get her a tree from her family’s favorite tree lot! You can feel the tension begin to rise as they get home and Topanga asks what time they open presents on Christmas Eve. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Maybe it’s just me, but I trust no one who opens their gifts on Christmas Eve. How would you even open gifts on Christmas Eve!? SANTA HASN’T COME YET!!!! 
Well this causes Eric to get into Cory’s ear about how he’s going to lose who he is as a person if he doesn’t say something to Topanga. Topanga runs upstairs to grab a tree topper she’s prepared and Cory states that when she comes back down he’s going to inform her that this is the Matthews’ house and their tree topper is going on! As you can probably assume this doesn’t happen because Cory is Cory and Topanga is Topanga. Mr. Feeny (neighbor and teacher) comes over to read “A Christmas Carol”, as he does every year. Topanga wants to make this her thing as well by suggesting they all act out parts. No one is happy about this……and she continues to not notice.
We switch over to plot B where Shawn Hunter is spending his first Christmas with his long lost brother, Jack. They have nothing in common as Shawn grew up in a trailer park and Jack is the privileged rich kid. They spend the entire episode trying to figure out what they should do with their time and eventually decide on ice skating. It’s a quick and funny side plot that plays throughout the episode. The show doesn’t really concentrate on it so I decided to just knock it out in a single paragraph.

Back to the Matthews’, it’s 3AM and Topanga wakes Cory up to talk.  She informs Cory that she knows the Matthews’ love their traditions but she has her own traditions too. Cory and she are not the same people and she’s okay with that. Then she goes back to bed and Cory walks downstairs. He’s surprised to see is father, Alan, awake making a model of a car. Alan informs Cory that he’s always up at this time due to the same reason Cory’s up. We get the usual father/son revelation talk. “Just when you think she's you, you find out she's her.” Cory asks what he can do to make this better? The scene ends with Alan handing his son his own model car to work on. 
It’s morning and Topanga has made Cory her famous “Christmas Tree Pancakes”. She denies him syrup and explains that these pancakes get snow (in the form of powdered sugar). You can see him getting upset. She explains all the things will do that day and eventually mentions caroling. Cory is adamant about not singing yet Topanga is not hearing it. He finally loses it, rightfully so. He explains that his misses his traditions and that she was right, they are two different people. He heads to Shawn and Jack’s apartment to hide out. She shows up at the apartment and apologizes, passive aggressively, that her family’s traditions are different than his. Before leaving she states that she’ll be waiting for him whenever he decides to go home. 

This is the point where Jack and Shawn go ice skating. Cory falls asleep on the couch watching “A Christmas Carol”. DREAM SEQUENCE! He’s visited by the Ghost of Christmas Future, who looks exactly like Mr. Feeny. He shows Cory what life would be like if he leaves Topanga because of his love for his Christmas traditions. As you can imagine things are terrible. Cory’s fat because all he eats are Christmas Tree Pancakes and Topanga marries Jack, which is a great joke as they don’t actually know each other yet. This is mentioned multiple times throughout the episode. Cory does notice the aluminum tree at Topanga’s house in his dream. Mr. Feeny explains that apparently Jack handled things like an adult and didn’t run out of the house. In a more serious note, he explains that with love comes compromise. Two people who come together out of love create their own traditions.

Back at the Matthews’ the family is worried that Cory isn’t going to come home. Topanga is lamenting the fact that this was her fault when she hears singing at the door. She turns to see Cory, singing “The First Noel”. He apologizes to her and says that he thought he knew everything about her. Learning new things seemed to scare him and he ran away. When he gives her the promise ring it is revealed that Topanga had a promise ring to give as well. It’s a cute moment. The episode ends with everyone falling asleep as Mr. Feeny reads “A Christmas Carol”……..BAH HUMBUG!

I have mixed feelings about this special that I didn’t have prior to looking at it from this perspective. I’ve always had issues with the way Topanga treats Cory but it was a lot more prominent in this episode. The overall message is great and something I’m still dealing with being in a 5-year relationship. We’ve come together to create some amazing traditions over the years and still fit in each other’s as well. That’s compromise. Coming together to make each happy. I didn’t actually see that in this special. I saw Topanga bitching a whole hell of a lot and the Matthews’ bending over backwards for her. There was no compromise, she whined about her traditions and they eventually did them. There was no, “well we can get my cider, but we can keep the aluminum tree”. There was none of that. Instead the show made Cory seem like the bad guy for leaving. It was obvious these things were upsetting him yet she paid it no mind. 
I know it may not seem like it but I love this special. I always have. The banter between Jack and Shawn is fantastic, and Eric is hilarious as always. This episode has always had a special place in my heart and always will. It’s one of my favorite shows of all time and I can’t fault it if one of the main characters gets on my nerves from time to time. Topanga is a horrible person at times but Cory loves her and he can’t help that. 
I’m definitely sending mixed signals so let me stop…..go watch this special. It’s worth it for Eric’s comments alone. I had a lot of fun sitting down and going through this episode. Maybe next year I’ll tackle the “Santa’s Little Helper” episode. Cory vows to make Shawn’s Christmas fantastic and Morgan causes Santa to have a heart attack. It’s back when they were cute kids. Well that’s it for this Christmas special. I hope you have a great one no matter what you celebrate or how you may celebrate it!

“Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!” – N’sync

- Dylan Lyles

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