Merry Happy Whatever: S1E4 Happy Mall-idays
A Note to Parents: Merry Happy Whatever is designed to be a family show, yet things have changed since The Brady Bunch was popular. This show features a teenager deciding he’s an atheist, a young woman embracing her homosexuality, and the implications of unmarried couples sleeping together. We at The Source For Parents never want to introduce something to kids that you wouldn’t want them to watch, so we develop discussions that parents can use if they feel the show is appropriate for their child. This show avoids the language and violence we often see today, but each parent will need to decide on their own if it’s appropriate for their family.
Season 1, Episode 4: Happy Mall-idays
Seeing as though this series is all about the Quinn family preparing for Christmas so far, things shift to the local mall where the family will do their holiday shopping. Unsurprisingly, Don is not a fan of the mall, but he is determined to buy Nancy – the nurse he is interested in dating – a present. The rest of the family does not yet know that dad has a crush on her, which causes a lot of surprise when they learn Don intends to “browse” at the mall.
Sean: Okay, what the heck is happening? Dad hates the mall. And two days before Christmas?
Patsy: I know! Crowds of shoppers wandering around with no respect for an organized traffic flow. That is his nightmare.
Kayla: Earlier today, he told me he wanted to browse. I mean, what’s next? Trying things on?
As the Quinn’s and associates split up at the mall, Sean chooses to shop with his dad. He learns dad is looking to buy a present for a “colleague” who Don reveals to be Nancy. Sean quickly texts the rest of the family and shares that Don is buying a present for Nancy. Eventually the eldest Quinn child learns that his father is interested in more than a friendship with the nurse.
Don: I miss RadioShack.
Sean: Dad, we’ve been to half the mall already. My thighs are chafed.
Don: I need this gift to be good. How do you pick out a gift for Joy?
Sean: I just have her write down a list of five things she wants and I pick three. The surprise for her is which two she doesn’t get.
Don: That doesn’t sound very romantic.
Sean: Wait. This gift for Nancy is supposed to be…
Don: Let’s just keep moving, okay?
Don settles on a space heater, considering it the perfect gift. This causes grave concern on the part of Sean and the others who he has kept updated through their group text chain. They cannot believe he is selecting such a non-romantic gift, which they are certain to be a poor choice. Despite their feelings about the gift, when the crew meets up again at the end of the episode, they have a moment with Don that is worth talking about.
Don: Why is everybody looking at me like it’s the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life”?
Sean: I, uh I might have told them about Nancy.
Don: So you’ve been gossiping about me like a bunch of biddies in a beauty shop? What’s the general consensus?
Everyone: It’s so good, Dad. We’re so happy for you, Dad. I think it’s great.
Don: I just I-I didn’t want you to feel Your mom I-I still…
Emmy: Dad, we want you to be happy. So if Nancy makes you happy, then you have to go for it. ‘Cause Quinns don’t quit.
The group wants Don to know they support him. They love him. And even though the reality of him dating someone for the first time after his wife’s death is hard for some, they put what he needs above their own desires. It’s a great example of love in action, and shows the importance of family being a safe place, a place of love, support and acceptance.
Don then explains how his late wife told him how important it is in a relationship to listen, and he heard Nancy say her feet get cold at the nurses desk. Don wanted her to be warm, which prompted the space heater. The family is moved by his compassion and concern for Nancy and it creates a special moment for them as they see their dad desire to care for this woman. The family closeness is evident in this scene, and it is a moment that most families would watch and want for themselves.
In the New Testament book of 1 Peter, the author has taken time to talk about wives and husbands and how they should treat each other. With the focus on family, Peter shifts in verse eight, addressing everyone with how they should act toward one another.
1 Peter 3:8
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
While this verse applies to all believers, it’s no coincidence it’s found right after words about husband and wives. It seems there is no place where it is more challenging to live out this verse than in the daily trenches with our families. Let’s take some time and talk about these things and see if we can learn to care for each other better in the days ahead.
Discussion Questions (for parents and their children to engage in together)
- Do you shop at the mall or are you more of an online person?
- What are some good memories you have from shopping at a mall?
- What do you think goes through Sean’s mind when he realizes his dad is interested in Nancy buying a gift for her?
- What are some of the challenges the Quinn children might experience as their dad potentially starts dating?
- As you think through the episode, can you think of other ways you witnessed the family demonstrating love for each other?
- Why do you think it can be so difficult to show love to those in our families?
- What does it look like to be sympathetic and compassionate to those in your home?
- Why do you think we tend to want to pay evil for evil or insult for insult with our families when we would rarely treat others that way?
- What is the promise God makes in 1 Peter 3:8 that we can hold onto?
- Individually, what specifically can we each do different to better live out this verse at home?
Rob Chagdes is one of the pastors at Prairie Lakes Church in northern Iowa. In the years since he met Jesus as a sixteen year old, Rob has spent his life working to raise up the next generation to love God and invite others into His unending story. He spends most of his free time with his wife Leslie, their three amazing daughters, and their energetic dog Jedi. You can reach Rob at firstname.lastname@example.org