Recap: Susan and Brandon are in bed together (at the Walsh house) when the alarm goes off. Susan starts to get up, but Brandon urges her to stay with him and not feel the need to sneak out of the house every time she sleeps over. She tells him she's uncomfortable being there, like she's about to get caught - which is strange, considering they're both adults in a monogamous relationship. Brandon finally convinces her to crawl back under the covers, and the two resume their canoodling. Downstairs, the front door opens, and we see that a mystery visitor has arrived with suitcases. Hey - it's Mama Walsh! She walks around and smiles at all the Christmas decorations. She calls out to Brandon, and when he doesn't answer, she heads upstairs and knocks on his bedroom door. Brandon's eyes fly open, and he looks alarmed as he shoves the comforter away and informs Susan that his mother is in the hallway. Susan wigs out and wraps herself in the comforter - instead of discreetly slipping into the en suite bathroom to get dressed like a normal person might. Brandon opens the door to greet his mom, and when Mama Walsh notices his mummified girlfriend, she immediately apologizes for interrupting whatever they were doing. Brandon introduces the two of them, and Susan moans about how mortified she is before ambling off somewhere. Brandon furrows his brows and asks his mom where Papa Walsh is, and she cryptically replies, "Right now, I don't know."
After the opening credits roll, Mama Walsh tells Brandon she loves what he's done with the house (I guess he painted or something..?). Brandon asks her whassup with her and his dad, so she tells him that she and Papa Walsh haven't been getting along very well and that she needed to get out of Hong Kong. She says that Papa Walsh loves his job and his new life; she, on the other hand, has no life. I'm sure that sucks, but didn't Cindy always not have a life, especially during her years in Beverly Hills? Apparently the problems began when Papa Walsh booked them on a holiday cruise with his boss even after she'd made it clear to him that she wanted to celebrate Christmas with Brandon. They fought about it - yadda yadda - and Papa Walsh dickishly declared that he was going on the cruise with or without her, so here she is. That sounds completely out of character for Papa Walsh...but whatevs, writers. Brandon asks her if she's planning to return to Hong Kong, and she looks pensive and says she's not sure.
Steve arrives at the golf club and runs into Rush and Scott (Steve's boss at the talent agency). Scott tells Steve he needs him to deliver some last minute Christmas gifts and apparently Rush assured him he wouldn't mind. Steve politely agrees to the favor...but as soon as Scott's out of earshot, he snarks at Rush for promising his services without bothering to ask him first. Rush barks at him to stop whining and says it's sometimes necessary to go that extra mile in the showbiz industry. Steve points out that it's Christmas Eve, but Rush doesn't give a rat's ass and orders him to just make the deliveries and not "screw it up as usual". Even at the best of times, Rush can be a malevolent dickwad.
Colin's loft. Colin has finished his portrait of Valerie, which apparently she's giving to David as a Christmas present. That's kind of narcissistic: here's a painting of me! Some guy wearing shades drops by with a "special delivery" for Colin and makes a crack about how it's going to be a white Christmas. Valerie manages to crack the drug lingo code and jokes to Colin about doing some "indoor skiing". Colin explains that since everyone's going to be drinking over the holidays, he needed some Christmas cheer of his own. He then asks her to keep his drugging quiet, since Kelly's very sensitive about issues like illegal substance abuse. He then invites Val to do a line of coke with him, but she makes a blech face and declines.
Steve and Clare are out delivering Scott's Christmas presents. They arrive at the apartment of a sultry looking woman, and when Steve hands her the wrapped gift, she unwraps it right away and doesn't seem at all puzzled by the fact that it's a toy oven (but then, neither do Steve or Clare). She acts delighted with the gift and says she'll cook for Scott anytime.
The Peach Pit. Brandon's discussing his parents' possible divorce with Valerie and David...and David is surprised that the Walshes are even contemplating splitting up. Nat, as usual, sticks his big fat nose in Brandon's bidness and tells him to give his parents a little credit 'cause sometimes people just need time alone. Brandon wonders aloud if his mom is telling him everything, and Nat offers to talk to her and get the skinny on what's going on with her marriage. Brandon likes the sound of that and invites Nat to his tree trimming party later.
Beach house. Kelly chides Donna for trying to sneak a peak inside the wrapped gift that Joe brought over for her. When she manages to carefully open the package, plastic snakes jump out at her, and there's a note with "gotcha" typed in big letters. The two cackle about how well Joe knows Donna and her childish impatience.
Steve and Clare are still making deliveries. Steve whines about how Rush always busts his chops, but then decides it doesn't matter since he's not his real father anyway. Clare looks shocked by that admission and says she doesn't believe him, which is weird 'cause why would anyone pretend to be adopted? The two arrive at a quaint little house and deliver a gift to Scott's young niece...who I'm guessing was the intended recipient of the toy oven.
The Walsh house. Brandon looks glum as he unpacks the Walsh's ornaments in advance of the tree trimming party. Mama Walsh joins him on the couch and says she knows this isn't the happiest Christmas for him...then tells him not to be angry with her. He assures her he's not; he's just sad at the thought of his parents splitting up. She tells him his family will always be his family, blahdy blah blah...and explains that she wasn't able to keep up with Papa Walsh's exciting new life, and that this could truly be the end for them. Sounds like a weak-ass reason to end a twenty-two year marriage, but since they're permanently off-camera now, I really couldn't give a rat's ass. A second later, Mama Walsh pushes all of the unpleasantness aside and encourages Brandon to make their most of their Christmas together.
It's the tree trimming party! Donna begs Joe to tell her what her present is, and he refuses and tells her she pretty much blew it when she opened the decoy box. She begs again and he refuses, and she playfully blurts out, "I hate you!" [I hate you too, Donna.] Susan asks Brandon if it's true he spray painted a dead tree during Season 2, and he says that that's nothing but an ugly rumor. Susan then starts blathering about her first Christmas with her ex...and blah blah, I pretty much stopped listening as soon as she brought up the topic.
Donna bugs Joe once more about her present, and petulantly reminds him that he owes her a Christmas and birthday present...and he assures her he has it covered. Across the room, Colin is holding court, regaling guests with a funny Christmas in New York story. As he heads off to the bathroom, David tells Valerie that Colin's "lit like a fuse", and Valerie quickly shushes him. Steve and Clare are making out and gabbling about what a great holiday they're having together, and Nat tells Mama Walsh that it's nice to have a grown-up around to talk to for a change. If he feels this way, why doesn't he find some friends who are closer to his age, instead of hanging around a bunch of twenty-somethings all the damn time? He tells Mama Walsh he's off to Midnight Mass, and Mama Walsh perks up and says she'd like to tag along. Rush drops by to yell at Steve for fucking up Scott's Christmas deliveries: the mistress got a toy oven, while his little niece received a leather bustier. Haha! Steve starts laughing and tells Rush that someone (not him) mixed up the addresses on the packages...and Rush rolls his eyes and snarks that he's always blaming someone else, just like with the house fire. Steve gets angry and says he doesn't need to take that kind of crap from him, so then Rush mutters, "Sometimes I'm ashamed to call you my son." Steve hears him and snarls, "Then don't bother. You're not my father anyway." Ouch.
Colin's in the bathroom, powdering the inside of his nose when Kelly screeches from the foyer that she's ready to go home. Steve tells Clare about the ugly scene that just went down between him and his father, and says he feels bad for the mean stuff he said. Clare advises him to apologize to Rush tomorrow or risk having a miserable Christmas. Colin emerges from the bathroom and starts wheezing from his coke snorting, and when Kelly asks him if he's getting a cold, he says it's just his allergies acting up.
Beach house. Joe phones Donna in the middle of the night to wish her a happy birthday the exact moment she was born. Ugh - I really hate it when people indulge Donna, especially to this extreme. He promises to bring her present by in the morning, and she bugs him to give her a hint, so he says the thing is grayish and interactive. After he hangs up, we see that Donna's present is a gray parrot, and that Joe is teaching it to say, "Joe loves Donna". Ugh again.
The Walsh house. Brandon sneaks downstairs to see what Santa put in his stocking this year. Mama Walsh smiles from the doorway, then enters the living room and wishes him a Merry Christmas. He thanks her for the awesome watch she got him from Hong Kong, and the two hug. She tells him that while she was at church last night, she came to the realization that she can make it on her own...and by on her own, she means live off of Jim's generous alimony payments. Brandon asks her if she wants to be on her own, and she's like, "I dunno." He reminds her that she and Papa Walsh have been together for more than twenty years, and urges her to try her hardest to work things out. She glumly tells him they just don't know who they are to each other anymore...but admits she still loves him. The doorbell rings, and it's a delivery for "a Mrs. James Walsh" (I've always found that to be such a weird naming convention for married women). It's a small box with a gold angel pin and a note from Papa Walsh that reads: "I love you, my angel. Merry Christmas. Hurry home." Mama Walsh suddenly glows with happiness and tells Brandon she's going to book a flight back to Hong Kong, like pronto. Considering she flew halfway around the world to spend the holidays with Brandon, would it kill her to stay in town for more than twenty-four hours?
The Peach Pit. Steve enters the diner to meet with Rush, and neither looks to be in a good mood. Steve admits he was out of line yesterday, and Rush is like, "Ditto." He invokes what Steve said yesterday and says he was wrong about one very important thing. He then hands Steve an envelope...and inside is an adoption settlement document. Turns out Rush is his natural father. Egads! Steve stares at the paperwork incredulously and says, "This can't be!" but Rush assures him that it be. He tells him he had an affair with a waitress around the time he and Samantha were trying to adopt...and after the waitress gave birth, he just bought the baby. Steve looks icked out by his dad's infidelity and then later being purchased, and tells Rush that when he was a kid he used to cry himself to sleep at night 'cause he believed that both of his parents abandoned him. Rush reminds him that he's given him lots o' cash over the years and the best of everything...but Steve says that all he ever wanted was the truth. Rush says he couldn't exactly do that, since he never told Samantha about his extramarital doinking and the subsequent baby purchase because he thought it would break her heart. Steve quietly moans, "What about my heart?" and starts crying. Rush breezily apologizes for treating him so dickishly over the years and declares that he's suddenly proud to call him his son.
Donna has invited the gang to a snowy hill, which she organized so that the local kids could go sledding. Donna bugs Joe again about her birthday/Christmas present, but he keeps quiet about the parrot. On his way to get hot chocolate, Colin hides behind a building and takes a hit of coke. When he returns with the beverages, Steve throws a snowball at him...and it turns into a snowball fight involving the entire gang. Valerie asks Kelly if she's noticed anything strange about Colin lately - hey, I thought she promised to keep quiet 'bout that - and remarks that it's pretty obvious he has "a nasal problem". Kelly just scrunches her face in irritation and denies that there's any truth to the accusation.
The Peach Pit. When the gang arrives at the diner, Steve excitedly tells them he has some momentous news to share. He declares that today - Christmas Day - is a birthday (sort of) 'cause he just learned that Rush is his biological father. Wait - wasn't he really depressed about this realization, like two scenes ago? Colin, meanwhile, heads over to the bathroom and Kelly watches him suspiciously. Nat delivers a birthday cupcake to Donna, and she giggles girlishly. She complains to everyone that she still hasn't gotten her present from Joe, and I really wish she'd shut the fuck up about it already. When Colin exits the men's room, Kelly asks him what he was doing in there, aside from the usual. He pretends like he was just taking a pee, and she bitchily orders him to wipe the remnants of coke away from his nostrils. Oops.
Dorm. Joe returns to his room for one last training session with the parrot. When the bird refuses to repeat the nauseating phrase, "Joe loves Donna", Joe irritably mutters, "Damn bird."
The Walsh house. Rush makes a toast to fathers and sons, and Steve proclaims his love to his bio dad and the two hug. Joe arrives carrying a huge box, and Donna starts clapping like the overindulged child she is. He lifts the box to reveal the parrot, and tells Donna he's an African Gray. She pretends to look enthused with her new pet and cackles, "Oooh! She's such a cutie pie." Joe tries to get the parrot to repeat the phrase he's been teaching it, but it just blurts out, "Damn bird" and everyone laughs.
The time has come for Mama Walsh to take her leave of Beverly Hills, and she tells Brandon she's going upstairs to collect her bags. Kelly wanders off to the dining room, and Colin follows her and asks her why she's being so cold to him. She tells him he broke a promise to her, meaning that he vowed last summer he wouldn't do any more coke. Aha - so he's a known cokehead. He explains that he just needed one teeny tiny gram of the white stuff to get through the holidays, and promises it won't happen again...and by again he means it'll happen within the next episode or two. Mama Walsh makes her grand exit saying, "I love you all!" Brandon heads outside with her, and she suddenly stops, stares at the house, and says she misses it every day. That said, she learned something important in the last twelve hours: home is where her husband and his steady paychecks are. She tells Brandon she's got to high-tail it to the airport - 'cause this is one flight she doesn't want to miss.
Godspeed, Cindy! Godspeed.