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Christmas Episode


Written by
Fran Drescher & Peter Marc Jacobson


Directed by
Lee Shallat


Executive Producers
Robert Sternin & Prudence Fraser

Final Draft
December 1, 1993


Show #108


COLD OPENING

INT. LIVING ROOM Ė DAY

NILES IS DECORATING THE STAIRCASE WITH CRANBERRY STRINGS AND GARLAND. FRAN AND THE KIDS ENTER FROM OUTSIDE, DRESSED IN ICE-SKATING OUTFITS. THE CHILDREN CARRY THEIR SKATES. FRAN MUNCHES ON A BAG OF CHESTNUTS. THEY HANG THEIR COATS IN THE ENTRY HALL CLOSET.

FRAN: Okay kids, run upstairs, hang up your skates, and donít forget to put those wet clothes in the hamper.

MAGGIE AND BRIGHTON EXIT UPSTAIRS.

NILES: No wet clothes for you, Miss Fine?

FRAN: I didnít fall.

GRACE: She didnít skate..

GRACE EXITS UP STAIRS, TOO.

NILES: And yet, such a lovely ensemble.

FRAN: Hey, you should see what I wear when I donít play tennis. (THEN, NOTICING DECORATIONS) Oh, cranberries on a string. Who started that tradition?

NILES: Probably Ocean Spray.

FRAN: Niles you old Scrooge. Get into the spirit.

NILES: Spoken by one who doesnít have to clean it all up.

FRAN: Thatís the thing about Chanukka. Eight candles and a Menorah. No muss, no fuss.

NILES: Is it too late to convert?

FRAN: Never. Weíll give you a bar mitzvah, and of course, a circumcision Ė

NILES: Suddenly Iím filled with the spirit of Christmas.

FADE OUT.



ACT ONE

SCENE ONE


FADE IN:

EST. MUSIC: TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

INT. LIVING ROOM Ė DAY

MAXWELL IS DIRECTING FROM A CHAIR HOW THE CHRISTMAS TREE GETS TRIMMED. NILES STRINGS THE LIGHTS. THE CHILDREN AND FRAN HAVE FORMED AN ASSEMBLY-LINE TO UNWRAP ORNAMENTS. FRAN IS HUMMING ALONG WITH THE MUSIC FROM THE STEREO.

FX: FIRE IN THE FIREPLACE

FRAN: My first real Christmas tree. Iím so excited.

FRAN BEGINS TO PLACE TINSEL ON THE TREE.

MAXWELL: Miss Fine, what on earth are you doing?

FRAN: Iím puttiní on a tinsel.

BRIGHTON: (MOCK SHOCK) Not before the lights.

FRAN: Oh, is that a faux pas?

MAGGIE: Lights first, ornaments second, tinsel, always last.

MAXWELL: But just a whisper.

GRACE: Fatherís very anal about his tree trimming.

FRAN: One year we begged my mother for a Christmas tree. She called it a Chanukka Bush. P.S., the candles from the Menorah set the flocking on fire and the fumes put my father in the emergency room.

MAXWELL: A variation on the burning bush classic.

FRAN: Well, my mother took the whole thing as a sign from God, and from then on we spent every Christmas at the Fountain Bleu in Miami. To this day I canít get a whiff of Bain de Soleil without haviní a yen for eggnog.

NILES: SirÖ

MAXWELL: Ready, everyone? Three, two, one!

MAXWELL PLUGS IN THE LIGHTS, ILLUMINATING THE TREE.

ALL: Ooh!

MAXWELL: Niles, I thought we agreed on twinkling lights.

NILES: Here.

NILES TAKES THE PLUG FROM HIM AND PULLS IT OUT, CAUSING THE LIGHTS TO GO OUT. HE THEN PUSHES THE PLUG BACK IN. THE LIGHTS GO ON AGAIN. HE REPEATS THIS SEVERAL TIMES.

MAXWELL: Miss Fine, I realize itís a holiday and a bit of an imposition, but is it at all possible for you to work on Christmas day?

FRAN: Are you kidding? To be a part of a real Christmas? Itís a dream come true. I bet Niles makes a great razzleberry dressing.

MAXWELL: Razzle what?

FRAN: (A LA TINY TIM) And razzleberry dressingÖ (THEN, OFF MAXWELLíS LOOK) What, you never saw Mr. Magooís Christmas Carol? Uch, and youíre in the theater.

MAXWELL: Precisely, which is why I need you to work Christmas day. Iíll be in D.C. producing a benefit at the Kennedy Center.

FRAN: You wonít be home for Christmas?

GRACE: Heís never home for Christmas.

MAXWELL: Grace, weíve been through all this. Weíre raising money for children who arenít as fortunate as we are.

BRIGHTON: (SOTTO, TO GRACE) Yeah, but keep laying in the guilt, weíll get better presents.

MAXWELL: Weíre not canceling it altogether. Weíll simply celebrate it a day early.

MAXWELL EXITS.


FRAN: Heís moving Christmas? You can do that?

NILES: They do it for Washingtonís birthday.

NILES EXITS

FRAN: You go to all that trouble fathering a country, and before you know it, youíre sharing the third Monday in February with Lincoln and a white sale.

GRACE: Heís never home on Lincolnís Birthday either.

FRAN: Guess weíre on our own for Christmas. So, letís write our letters to Santa.

GRACE: Isnít that cute. She still believes in Santa.

FRAN: I believe in anyone who delivers.

BRIGHTON: Well, we believe in Edna.

FRAN: Edna Claus? Would that be the missus?

MAGGIE: No, sheís Dadís personal shopper. She buys all our gifts.

FRAN: So what youíre saying is, you give your list to Edna, and she gives it to Santa.

GRACE: Fran, please, I wasnít born yesterday.

MAGGIE: Fran, itís better this way. When she believed in him, she drove herself crazy.

BRIGHTON: Crazier. She thought Santa was always watching her. Was she naughty? Was she nice?

GRACE: Plus, he had me on some list and he was checking it twice.

FRAN: (EXASPERATED) Gracie, chill out, heís Santa, not Joe McCarthy. If you did believe in Santa, what would you want him to bring you?

GRACE: Daddy for Christmas.

FRAN: How about a nice ďEasy BakeĒ oven?

GRACE AND THE KIDS ARENíT CHEERED.

FRAN (CONTíD): Alright, wait here.

FRAN EXITS TO HALLWAY.

RESET TO:

INT. HALLWAY Ė A MOMENT LATER

FRAN ENCOUNTERS NILES IN THE HALLWAY.

FRAN: Uch, Niles, these poor kids are real grinches, and that Gracieís the anti-Claus. I gotta talk to Mr. Sheffield.

NILES: Well, I hope youíre not going to upset him, heís writing out the staff Christmas bonuses.

FRAN: How do you know?

NILES: Well, did you think the keyholes polished themselves?

FRAN: So the Nanny gets a Christmas bonus, too? Oh, thatís great news, Ďcause I want to buy each of the kids something fabulous, but have you seen the price of fabulous now a days?

NILES: Please. I canít even afford wonderful. Fortunately, Mr. Sheffield is usually very generous.

FRAN: Well, if he thinks a check is gonna make up for his not being hereÖ

NILES: Four figures, Miss Fine.

FRAN: Glory to the new born king.

CUT TO:

ACT ONE

SCENE TWO

INT. LIBRARY Ė LATER

MAXWELL IS WRITING CHECKS. C.C. STANDS NEARBY.

C.C.: Oh Maxwell, look what Iím standing underÖ is that mistletoe?

MAXWELL: (TEASING) Iím not sure. It looks rather more like holly.

C.C.: Itís mistletoe. And I believe tradition calls for a kiss.

FRAN ENTERS..

FRAN: Alright.

SHE GIVES HER A KISS ON THE CHEEK.

C.C.: (WIPING HER FACE) Merry Christmas Nanny Fine.

FRAN: Whoops I got some lipstick on ya cheekÖ

C.C.: Oh for heavenís sake.

FRAN: Meanwhile that shade looks gorgeous on you. Do you really have to go outta town for Christmas?

C.C.: Yes, he does.

FRAN: (TO MAXWELL) I love the way you throw your voice like that.

MAXWELL: Miss Fine, I have to be there.

C.C.: Itís a very important benefit. Weíre raising money for theÖ Who are we raising money for? The poor, right?

MAXWELL AND FRAN GIVE HER A LOOK.

MAXWELL: Iíd love to spend Christmas day with the family, but I just canít.

C.C.: We canít.

FRAN: Youíre going, too?

C.C.: (SMILING) Uh-huh.

MAXWELL: (QUICKLY) And weíll be working the entire time.

C.C.: Well, I think weíll have time for dinnersÖ

MAXWELL: No, no dinner. The only reason Iím going away with Miss Babcock is for charity.

C.C.: Thank you, Maxwell.

MAXWELL: Well, you know what I mean.

C.C.: No, no I donít.

MAXWELL: Was there anything else, Miss Fine?

FRAN : Far be it from me to tell yaí how to do Christmas, but youíre doing it all wrong. The fatherís going away, kids donít believe in Santa, and I havenít seen one stinkiní partridge in a pear tree.

MAXWELL: Well, thatís why weíre moving it up a day. And I really want to make it special. So Iíve told my personal shopper to go all out.

FRAN: Thatís another thing. This woman doesnít know our kids. A personal shopper is so impersonal. Although, not a bad career choice.

C.C.: Iíve got an idea. During those many hours when the children are in schoolÖ

FRAN: YeahÖ

C.C.: And you basically have nothing to do.

FRAN: I fill my days.

C.C.: Why donít you get their gifts?

MAXWELL: Thatís not the worst idea. You would know what they want.

FRAN: Donít you want to pick out your own presents? If it were me, Iíd much rather get something you picked out yourself. Believe me, a gift from the heart means so much more.

MAXWELL: (GETTING INTO IT) Well, I suppose I could find some time to pop into F.A.O. Schwarz. But what do they want?

FRAN: Trust me, whatever you pick out they will love and cherish forever. (BEAT) Just make sure itís returnable.

FRAN EXITS.

CUT TO:

ACT ONE

SCENE THREE

INT. VESTIBULE/LIVING ROOM Ė A FEW DAYS LATER

FRAN AND VAL ENTER, LOADED WITH SHOPPING BAGS, ETC. MAXWELL CAN BE SEEN ATTEMPTING TO ASSEMBLE A BICYCLE. NILES STANDS BY READY TO ASSIST.

FX: SNOW FALLING

FRAN: I got such great stocking-stuffers for the kids.

VAL: Are you putting up a stocking?

FRAN: I figured Iíd hang up my pantyhose, that way Iíll get double.

THEY CROSS INTO THE LIVING ROOM.

FRAN: Hiya, Mr. Sheffield.

MAXWELL: Hello ladies.

FRAN: Ooh, looks like weíre not the only ones who went shopping.

MAXWELL: Oh, yes. We had a wonderful time. Children laughing, people passing, meeting smile after smile.

NILES: Heís been doing that all day.

MAXWELL: Admit it, old man, we had fun.

NILES: Only when you let me ride in the cart.

MAXWELL: (TO FRAN) So what do you think of Brightonís bicycle.

FRAN: Who designed it, Picasso?

MAXWELL: It isnít finished yet. The salesman said serious cyclers build their equipment themselves.

NILES: Oh, they saw him coming.

FRAN: Well, if yaí need a few pointers, Valís very mechanicalÖ

Val: (MODESTLY) Iím a plumberís daughter.

MAXWELL: Iím a grown man, Iím sure I am perfectly capable of assembling a childís bicycle.

FRAN: May the testosterone be with you.

MAXWELL: Niles, I need a Phillips Head screwdriver.

NILES PASSES THE SCREWDRIVER TO MAXWELL LIKE A SURGEONíS ASSISTANT WOULD.

NILES: Phillips Head, sir.

MAXWELL: Niles, this is not a Phillips Head. (TO VAL) Is it?

VAL: (EXAMING IT CLOSELY) No.

NILES: Who was this Phillip anyway?

FRAN: And what must his head have looked like?

MAXWELL: If you want something done, you have to do it yourself. (BEAT) Val?

MAXWELL AND VAL EXIT. NILES BEGINS STRINGING POPCORN.

FRAN: Look at this gorgeous sweater for Maggie. I got great stuff for everyone. You think Brighton likes Aramis?

NILES: What happened? Did you win the lottery?

FRAN: I wish. More like rubber checks. Relax. Iím not gonna let them bounce. Tomorrow I get my Christmas bonus, Saturday and Sunday the banks are closed. Monday I make an instant deposit, and Iíve done my part to stimulate the economy.

NILES: Donít you have a credit card?

FRAN: Not since my little run-in with Edward Scissorhands at Macyís.

CUT TO:

ACT ONE

SCENE FOUR

INT. LIVING ROOM Ė CHRISTMAS EVE MORNING

IT IS THE CRACK OF DAWN AND FRAN, DRESSED IN COLORFUL HOLIDAY ROBE AND SLIPPERS CHEERFULLY GOES DOWN THE STAIRCASE FOLLOWED BY MAXWELL.

FX: SNOW FALLING OUTSIDE.

FX: FIRE IN FIREPLACE.

FRAN: (CALLING BEHIND HER) Come on everyone. MerryÖ eh-

MAXWELL: Merry morning of the day before Christmas.

THE CHILDREN ENTER IN ASSORTED ROBES AND SLEEPWEAR.

FRAN: (RE: PLATE ON FOYER TABLE) Look Grace, Santa took a bite out of the cookie we left him.

GRACE: I didnít know Santa wore red lipstick.

FRAN: (BEAT) The man gets out of the house once a year. Live and let live!

MAGGIE RUNS TO GRAB A GIFT FOR FRAN.

MAGGIE: Fran would you open my present first?

FRAN: Before the family?Ö Alright.

FRAN TAKES GIFT AND BEGINS TO UNWRAP.

MAGGIE: I hope you like itÖ I made it myselfÖ I mean itís okay if you donítÖ

FRAN: Honey, Iím sure Iíll love it, Ďcause a gift from the heart is worth more than the present itself. Right Mr. Sheffield? (SHE WINKS AT MAXWELL)

MAXWELL: Absolutely, Miss Fine. (HE RETURNS THE WINK)

AS FRAN OPENS HER GIFT FROM MAGGIE.

FRAN: (THRILLED, SEARCHING) Ooooh Ė

MAGGIE: Itís a pajama holder.

FRAN: Ooooh. And I donít already have one.

NILES: (SOTTO TO FRAN) Because you donít wear any pajamas.

FRAN: You have polished your last keyhole. (RISING) Thank you, Maggie. Now whoís next? Oh, Mr. SheffieldÖ

FRAN GIVES MAXWELL A GIFT.

MAXWELL: Miss Fine, how kind of you.

HE OPENS THE GIFT.

MAXWELL (CONTíD): Iíve always wanted a Swiss Army knife.

BRIGHTON: Cool, let me see.

BRIGHTON AND MAXWELL LOOK AT IT TOGETHER.

MAXWELL: Be very careful, Brighton. These are designed for soldiers. It has all kinds of intricate survival gadgetry. Whatís this?

FRAN: (SHE LOOKS) Thatís the clipper for your nose hair! You donít want bushy nostrils in battle.

NILES: Be all that you can be, sir.

BRIGHTON: Dad, I love my what is this?

MAXWELL: Itís a bicycle Ė kit.

FRAN: Bicycle kit?

MAXWELL: Half the fun of owning a bike is building it yourself.

NILES HANDS BRIGHTON A SCREWDRIVER WITH A BOW ON IT.

NILES: And this is from me.

BRIGHTON: Gee, guys, you shouldnít have.

MAGGIE: He really wanted Cindy Crawford.

BRIGHTON: At least sheís built.

MAGGIE: Daddy, I love my pearls.

MAXWELL: I wanted your first string of pearls to come from your old man.

SHE HUGS MAXWELL.

GRACE: (REMOVING WRAPPING PAPER) Oh, ďThe ScreamerĒ! Thank you.

MAXWELL: Iím glad you like it. And I hope you understand why I canít be here tomorrow.

GRACE: I understand.

MAXWELL: Thatís my big girl. Merry Christmas, sweetheart.

HE CROSSES TO NILES.

GRACE: Merry Christmas, Daddy.

SHE PUNCHES THE DOLL.

BRIGHTON: (SOTTO, TO MAGGIE) No hidden hostility there.

MAXWELL: (RE: ENVELOPE HE PULLS OUT OF HIS VEST POCKET) Niles olí man, what can I say, year in and year out, youíre a friend indeed. Thank you and Merry Christmas.

NILES TAKES THE ENVELOPE FROM MAXWELL AND OPENS IT. ITíS A CHECK.

NILES: Thank you, Mr. Sheffield, this is more than generous. Itís hard to express just how much IÖ deserve this.

MAXWELL: Youíre welcome. And Miss FineÖ

FRAN: (DROOLING) Yeah?

MAXWELL: Your contribution to this family has not gone unnoticed.

FRAN: I think Iím gonna cry.

MAXWELL: (HE HANDS HER THE BOX) Thank you and Merry Christmas.

FRAN: Whatís this?

SHE BEGINS OPENING GIFT.

MAXWELL: Your Christmas present. I gave it a lot of thought and picked it out myself.

INSIDE THE BOX SHE FINDS A SMALL VASE WHICH SHE TURNS EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE WITH HOPE THAT A CHECK MIGHT FALL OUT.

FRAN: Oooh.

SHE CONTINUES TO SHAKE THE VASE.

FADE OUT.

END OF ACT ONE

ACT TWO

SCENE ONE

FADE IN:

INT. LIVING ROOM Ė LATER THAT SAME MORNING

FRAN SITS DISCONSOLATELY AS NILES CLEANS UP. THEY ARE ALONE.

FRAN: Me and my BIG mouth! Niles will you come visit me in debtorsí prison.

NILES: Miss Fine, you should be flattered that Mr. Sheffield got you a gift. Iíve never known him to give a staff member anything but a check.

FRAN: Well, who the hell needed that distinction? Why canít I mind my own business? Be more like youÖ cold and aloof.

NILES: Iím no fool. (RE: VASE) You know it really is a lovely vase.

FRAN: Gorgeous, but does it fit through an automated teller? Niles, if you ever catch me shopping again, just slap me up side the head.

MAGGIE SKIPS DOWN STAIRS WEARING THE NEW SWEATER FRAN BOUGHT HER.

FRAN: Maggie, honey. Youíre wearing the new sweater already?

FEELING UP THE KIDíS ARM.

Maggie: Oh, I just love it. Itís the most beautiful sweater Iíve ever seen.

FRAN: (CONCERNED) Oh isnít that sweetÖ Ya didnít cut the tag off did ya?

DURING THE FOLLOWING, FRAN AND MAGGIE TUG ON THE SWEATER.

Maggie: Yes. Why?

FRAN: (ON SECOND THOUGHT) Oh thatís okay. I got the receipt.

Maggie: Fran, Iím keeping the sweater. I love it.

FRAN: No you donít.

Maggie: But Fran you picked it out. Itís from the heart.

FRAN: (HUGGING MAGGIE) Really the minute I saw it, I thought it had your name written all over it. Go wear it in good health.

MAGGIE EXITS WITH ONE SLEEVE HANGING TO HER KNEE.

FRAN: Now what am I gonna do?

NILES: That offer to loan you the money still stands.

FRAN: I consider you my friend, so Iíll be frank Ė Iím not good for it.

NILES: Well, it really is an exquisite vase. The perfect piece to begin oneís personal art collection.

FRAN: YeahÖ what do you think I can get for it?

CUT TO:

ACT TWO

SCENE TWO

EXT. PAWN SHOP Ė EST. SHOT

INT. PAWN SHOP Ė LATER THAT DAY

FRAN: I coulda taken it straight to Sothebys but Iím giviní you a break here. This is antique hand-blown glass.

PAUL: Sweetheart, itís a vase.

FRAN: Itís very old.

PAUL: So am I. Donít you have something I can unload? A VCR or a nice semi-automatic weapon?

FRAN: Paulie, donít you know a valuable antique when you see it? Itís practically Elizabethan.

PAUL: (SUDDENLY INTERESTED) Elizabeth Taylor?

FRAN: No, Liz the Queen.

PAUL: Who?

FRAN: The bald one, with the big collar.

PAUL: Oh her. No can do. If yaí said Elizabeth Montgomery, yaí know ďBewitchedĒ, then I could move it.

VAL: (DESPERATE) Uncle Paulie, will ya please buy the vase? The woman owes the world. Sheís desperate, weíll take anything.

FRAN: And that Val, is why you cannot get a partner for bridge.

CUT TO:

ACT TWO

SCENE THREE

INT. LIVING ROOM Ė LATER THAT DAY (EARLY EVENING)

FRAN AND GRACE ARE WATCHING TV. BRIGHTON AND MAGGIE ARE ATTEMPTING TO ASSEMBLE BRIGHTONíS NEW BICYCLE. MAGGIEíS READING INSTRUCTIONS. NILES IS PLACING THE LUGGAGE NEAR THE DOOR.

FRAN: (TO GRACE) Cheer up, honey. (SWITCHING CHANNELS) Oh look, my favorite, ďItís A Wonderful LifeĒ.

GRACE: Weíve already seen it six times.

BRIGHTON: Today.

FRAN: Thereís a Christmas special on the Shopping Channel.

FRAN ONCE AGAIN SWITCHES CHANNELS.

TV ANNOUNCER (O.S.): ďCall now, and you can own ďItís A Wonderful LifeĒ at a wonderful price.Ē

FRAN: (TURNING OFF TV) Uch, can you believe this? Although, for nine ninety- five it is a classic.

FRAN REACHES FOR THE PHONE. NILES WALKS BY AND SLAPS HER ON THE BACK OF HER HEAD.

FRAN: (CROSS-EYED) Thanks, I needed that.

MAXWELL DESCENDS THE STAIRS.

MAXWELL: Niles, did you remember my attache?

Niles: Yes.

MAXWELL: My carry-on?

Niles: Always.

MAXWELL: Well then, seems like we have everything.

C.C. ENTERS FROM THE LIBRARY.

C.C: Maxwell?

Niles: Oops, I guess I did forget one old bag.

Grace: Daddy, I wish you could come to church with us. Do you really have to go?

MAXWELL: I wish I didnít, Sweetheart. Iíll miss you very much. All of you.

GRACE: Canít we come with you?

C.C.: No! I mean, oh wouldnít that be grand? Unfortunately, weíll be working Ďround the clock.

MAXWELL: Sheís right, Sweetheart. Even if you came, Iíd never get time to see you. Youíll have more fun here.

FRAN: Honey, at least he just has to work Christmas. My sister, the caterer, works every holiday. Thank God we fast on Yom Kippur, or weíd never see her.

MAXWELL AND C.C. CROSS TO VESTIBULE. FRAN FOLLOWS THEM OUT.

MAXWELL: Thank you for that, Miss Fine. And I do hope you like your vase.

FRAN: Heh?

MAXWELL: It reminded me of you. One of a kind with just the right accent. Youíve been a wonderful addition to our family. And I hope youíll cherish that vase as the children cherish you.

MAXWELL EXITS AS NILES RE-ENTERS

FRAN: Niles, would you watch the kids? I gotta go buy something.

NILES HITS FRAN UPSIDE THE HEAD, AS WE:

FLIP TO:

ACT TWO

SCENE FOUR

INT. PAWN SHOP Ė A SHORT WHILE LATER (NIGHT)

FRAN POUNDS ON A BELL AT THE COUNTER.

VAL: You know, every time a bell rings an angel gets itís wings.

FRAN: Who cares?

PAUL ENTERS.

FRAN (CONTíD): Paulie, I want my vase back!! Itís right there next toÖ (STRAINING TO SEE IT) Richard Burtonís toaster?

PAUL: Itís good to see them back together again.

VAL: Fran, you canít do this. How you going to pay your bills?

FRAN: Iíll think of something. That little vase is the most meaningful gift Iíve ever received in my whole life. (OFF VALíS LOOK) Except of course for that Polaroid swinger ya gave me at graduation.

VAL: Well, I was gonna sayÖ

PAUL HANDS HER THE VASE.

PAUL: Here you go Ė four hundred dollars.

FRAN: Four hundred? You gave me two.

PAUL: OverheadÖ StorageÖ

FRAN: Youíre a crook.

PAUL: Whatever.

FRAN: Paulie, work with me here. would you take my watch?

FRAN STARTS TO TAKE THE WATCH OFF.

VAL: (GASPS) Oh, not your grandmotherís watch! She gave that to you on her deathbed!

FRAN: Thank you, Val, youíre making this a lot easier.

DISSOLVE TO:

ACT TWO

SCENE FIVE

EXT. JFK AIRPORT (STOCK SHOT) - EST.

INT. AIRPORT Ė A LITTLE WHILE LATER

MAXWELL IS ON THE PHONE. C.C. STANDS BY WAITING FOR THEIR FLIGHT. SANTA IS NEARBY, RINGING A BELL THROUGHOUT THE SCENE.

MAXWELL: (DISTRESSED) Thanks for telling me, Niles. Have a good holiday, old man.

HE HANGS UP.

C.C.: What? What?

MAXWELL: I gave Miss Fine a gift in lieu of a check and aparently she had to hock her grandmotherís watch to pay for the gifts she bought for the children.

C.C.: Oh, how tragic. Itís positively Dickensian. (CHEERY) Oh well.

MAXWELL: I wish there was something I could do.

C.C.: Too bad, our flight leaves in ten minutes.

ANNOUNCER (O.S.): Flight 851 going to Washington Dulles International airport will be delayed three hoursÖ Merry Christmas.

C.C.: Cocktails and dinner.

MAXWELL: Iíll be back.

AS HE EXITS.

C.C.: What if you miss the plane? What about those poor underprivileged people counting on us?

SANTA WALKS BY, RINGING THE BELL.

C.C. (CONTíD): Oh, give it a rest.

CUT TO:

ACT TWO

SCENE SIX

EXT. ST. PATRICKíS CATHEDRAL Ė EST. STOCK SHOT

NILES AND THE CHILDREN ARE SITTING IN A PEW. FRAN ENTERS AND MAKES HER WAY ACROSS THE PEW TOWARDS THEM.

FRAN: Excuse me, pardon me, silent night, holy night.

NILES: Miss Fine, youíre late.

FRAN: Iím sorry, but I donít have a watch, remember? Oh, this place is magnificent. Did I miss anything?

HE HANDS HER A BIBLE.

NILES: Here, this ought to bring you up to date.

MEANWHILE, PEOPLE HAVE BEEN LINING UP TO GO INTO CONFESSIONALS.

FRAN: Look at the crowd at the confessional. There were shorter lines at the gift wrap at Macyís.

NILES: Itís been a rough year for everyone.

FRAN: Tell me about it. Iíve got a few things Iíd like to get off my chest. (SHE THINKS A BEAT) Tell me Niles, are these confessionals open to anyone? Or is it more like the Homeclub?

NILES: You in a confessional? Iíd pay good money to see that.

SHE STARTS EXITING THE PEW.

FRAN: Excuse me. All is calm. All is bright.

NILES: Oh, God in heaven.

GRACE LEANS OVER TO BRIGHTON.

GRACE: Where is Fran going?

BRIGHTON: (PASSES DOWN TO MAGS) Grace wants to know where Franís gone.

MAGGIE: Whatís with Fran?

NILES: (TO MAGGIE) She went to confess.

MAGGIE: (TO BRIGHTON) She went to play chess.

BRIGHTON: (TO GRACE) She went to undress.

GRACE: What?

DISSOLVE TO:

ACT TWO

SCENE SIX A

INT. CONFESSIONAL Ė A SHORT TIME LATER

FRAN OPENS THE CURTAIN. SHE SITS DOWN.

FRAN: Forgive me Father for I have shoppedÖ

SHE TAKES THE VASE OUT OF HER PURSE AND SETS IT DOWN BESIDE HER.

FRAN: Boy, these benches are really uncomfortable. You donít want people to stay long, huh?

FATHER: Stay as long as you like, Iím on Ďtil midnight. Father Donahue got Christmas week off. Again.

FRAN: I know just how you feel. Iím working Christmas this year, and I was really looking forward to it, but instead itís gonna be awful. The Fatherís in Washington, the kids donít believe in Santa and Iím in hock up to my ears. I just donít know what to do.

FATHER: I hear the Fontaine Bleuís nice this time of year. (BEAT) At least Father Donahue says so.

FRAN: Look , you have more experience with Christmas than I do. Does it ever live up to oneís expectations?

FATHER: That depends on what one expects.

FRAN: Oh, youíre good. See, thatís why they shipped Father Donuhue off to Florida, and youíre working St. Pattyís on Christmas Eve.

THEREíS A KNOCK ON THE OUTSIDE OF THE CONFESSIONAL.

FRAN (CONTíD): Thereís someone in here.

MAXWELL: Miss Fine, itís me. May I come in?

THE CURTAIN OPENS, MAXWELL POPS HIS HEAD IN.

FRAN: Mr. Sheffield, what are you doing here?

MAXWELL: Niles told me how I got you in trouble.

THE PRIEST REACTS.

FRAN: Itís not your fault. I should have been more responsible.

FATHER: We do offer counseling for unwed mothers.

FRAN/MAXWELL: WHAT??

MAXWELL: For heavenís sake Father, sheís not overdue, sheís overdrawn!

FATHER: Forgive me. But you know I have been in this little box for a very long time.

FRAN: (PATTING THE SCREEN) Itís alright, Padre.

MAXWELL: Youíve been so generous to me and the children and made it such a special Christmas, but it shouldnít cost you your grandmotherís watch.

MAXWELL HANDS FRAN A WATCH CASE.

FRAN: (TOUCHED) Oh, Mr. Sheffield.

MAXWELL: I got the name of the pawn shop from Val.

FRAN: I donít know what to say. (SHE OPENS THE CASE) This isnít my grandmotherís watch.

MAXWELL: Oh, the man in the pawn shop is an idiot.

FRAN: Valís uncle. Mr. Sheffield, donít feel bad. Things could be worse. Have a seat. At least I still have my beautiful Ė

MAXWELL PLOPS DOWN ON THE BENCH NEXT TO FRAN.

SFX: BREAKING GLASS

FRAN (CONTíD): -- vase.

ANGLE ON: OUTSIDE OF CONFESSIONAL

MAXWELL (O.S.): Owww!

CHURCH BELLS AND HYMN SINGING MIX IN WITH THE YELL, AS WE:

CUT TO:

ACT TWO

SCENE SEVEN

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM Ė A SHORT WHILE LATER

MAXWELL IS LYING ON HIS STOMACH SURROUNDED BY FRAN AND THE CHILDREN. NILES IS DECORATING THE ROOM FOR CHRISTMAS.

FRAN: Oh, Iím really sorry, Mr. Sheffield. Talk about ďThe Nightmare Before Christmas.Ē Tim Burton has nothing on me.

MAXWELL: Itís quite alright. Itís not the pain so much as the humiliation.

FRAN: Thereís nothing to be humiliated about. (ASIDE TO NILES) They really should get backs for those gowns.

MAXWELL: I hope C.C. can handle a benefit by herself. She must be in the air by now.

NILES: There go the friendly skies.

GRACE HANGS A TINSEL ON MAXWELLíS HEAD.

MAGGIE: Gracie donít decorate Father.

MAXWELL: Itís all right.

HE SMILES AT GRACE AND MAGGIE.

SANTA (O.S.): Let me go! Itís Christmas Eve. Iíve got things to do.

NURSE: In here.

ORDERLIES BRING IN SANTA IN A WHEELCHAIR.

SANTA: Donít you know who I am?

ORDERLY #1: Yes we do. And weíve been good all year.

THE ORDERLIES HELP HIM ONTO THE BED.

ORDERLY #2: So why donít you be good and lie still until the medication kicks in.

FRAN: What happened to him?

ORDERLY #1: Some drunk lady at the airport knocked him out with his own bell.

SANTA: My ears are still ringing.

THE ORDERLIES START TO CLOSE THE CURTAINS BETWEEN THE TWO BEDS.

GRACE: Thank you, Santa.

HE WINKS AT HER AS THE ORDERLIES CLOSE THE CURTAINS COMPLETELY AND EXIT.

BRIGHTON: What are you thanking him for?

MAGGIE: I thought you didnít believe in Santa Claus.

GRACE: Well, I do now because my Christmas wish came true.

MAXWELL: What wish, sweetheart?

GRACE: That youíd be with us on Christmas.

MAXWELL: Funny, that was my wish too.

THEY HUG.

FRAN: Isnít that a positive way to look at this disaster.

SFX:CHURCHBELLS RING IN THE DISTANCE.

NILES: Oh listen, itís Christmas and not a cranberry in sight.

FRAN: And look at this. Weíre together, weíre happy, weíre healthyÖ well most of us.

AS EVERYONE AD LIBS ďMERRY CHRISTMASĒ, FRAN TAKES A PHOTO.

FRAN: Why donít we invite the old man to join us? No one should be alone on Christmas.

AS FRAN CROSSES TO THE CURTAIN AROUND SANTAíS BED.

FRAN (CONTíD): Excuse me, Santa. Are you decent?

FRAN OPENS THE CURTAIN. THE BED IS EMPTY.

FRAN: Where did he go?

SFX: SLEIGHBELLS RING IN THE DISTANCE.

SANTA (O.S.): Ho. Ho. Ho.

ALL THATíS LEFT IS AN OPEN WINDOW.

FX: SNOW GENTLY BLOWING IN THE WINDOW.

ON A SHOT OF THE WHOLE FAMILY REACTING. THEN, FRAN LEANS TOWARD THE WINDOW AND TAKES A PICTURE, AS WE:

FADE OUT.

END OF ACT TWO










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