The Christmas episodes used to be the best part of Days of Our Lives.
Every year, friends and family would gather at the Horton house to celebrate being together, hang ornaments with their name on them on the tree, and wish viewers a Merry Christmas.
Christmas was supposed to be a time for joy, love and miracles, and was often a break from the heartbreaking drama the Hortons, Bradys and other core characters suffered throughout the year.
But not this year. Salem's Christmas was minimal and depressing, with the annual ornament hanging taking up a little screen time as possible and almost nobody having any Christmas spirit.
At the beginning of the week, JJ seemed to be one of the few people who was genuinely excited about Christmas. He got a tree for his mom and groveled on the phone in order to get Gabi an ornament with her name on it.
Sadly, his efforts were in vain and were focused on someone who was utterly unworthy of him. While he was doing that, Gabi was begging Chad to help her cheat on him and complaining that her relationship with JJ required work and the ability to communicate rather than being purely fun.
Meanwhile, JJ ran into Lani, who had come home for the holidays, appeared jealous that he had a girlfriend, and was in competition with Gabi for who could have the most obnoxious tone in her voice while talking to him.
Lani is likely the person who raped JJ, considering her behavior. Apparently she missed the class in the police academy about how sexual assault isn't a crime of passion but a crime of power.
Anyway, JJ called Gabi so he could give her her present but she was ignoring his calls because they weren't from Chad. Abigail came home, ready to run away forever because she saw Chad kiss Gabi, and after telling his sister she was being ridiculous, JJ ran off to find Gabi, sure this was all a misunderstanding because he trusted her.
Gabi's response to JJ's question was to demand who told him she kissed Chad, accuse him of being untrustworthy because he wouldn't tell her, and tell him she was an idiot to think that he wasn't going to cheat on her again. She then stormed off to make out with Chad, exchange Christmas gifts, and almost have sex.
JJ''s Christmas was ruined because he was heartbroken over the loss of his horribly abusive girlfriend, on top of which Abby refused to stick around for the holidays -- something which terribly upset Jennifer as well. Neither of them were really in the mood for Christmas and couldn't tell Doug and Julie what was going on.
In the meantime, Lani came with Abe and Theo to the Horton Christmas and proceeded to be cold to JJ when he tried to be a good host and asked her what she would like to drink.
Doug gave the annual Christmas speech. Instead of a message of hope to viewers, it was a prayer that everyone overcome their depression this holiday season.
They weren't the only ones having a blue Christmas, either.
Kind of a somber Christmas Eve, isn't it?Kayla
Kayla felt the depression in the air but Steve told her that them being together was the important thing. They had a few quasi-sweet scenes, in which Kayla attempted to play the harmonica for Steve and he gave her a Swiss army knife that she didn't really want. These scenes would have been sweeter if they hadn't been ruined by Jade's presence.
A few short weeks ago, Steve and Kayla were none too happy that their son's rebellious girlfriend was pregnant.
Jade had been nothing but trouble, influencing Joey to skip town before a court hearing and almost getting him killed by an unhinged member of her aunt's commune. Joey had finally come to his senses about Jade when she reappeared and told him she was pregnant.
Instead of protecting Joey from being tied to this woman by consulting an attorney and getting a custody, visitation, and child support agreement in place, Steve and Kayla reluctantly encouraged the two to get back together for the baby's sake.
Now, they've chosen to treat Jade as family, as if this were a planned pregnancy with the woman of Joey's dreams.
It's important to address teen pregnancy on soaps because being sexually active does have consequences, but the messaging here is absolutely awful. Nobody should have to remain in a relationship they don't want to be in, particularly with someone who has been abusive towards them and hates their family.
This whole storyline should not have gone in this direction; how can Steve and Kayla welcome with open arms a woman who they doubted was even really pregnant less than a month ago?
I thought I'd get you something crystal I didn't steal.Joey
Anyway, Joey and Jade's relationship now seems to be full of discussions about how they're not going to steal anything anymore since they have a child on the way. This is not exactly the romance of the century, nor does it make either character particularly rootable.
To add insult to injury, Jade felt a need to tell Kayla that the Christmas story had to have been written by a man because it doesn't describe Mary's labor pains. Considering all the actual misogyny that has been on this show lately, that was a highly inappropriate, ridiculous and unneeded comment.
It would have been nice to see more of the actual reading of the Christmas story, or, at least, people celebrating Christmas while the story was being read, instead of that silliness.
You know what? I'm pretty close to being sick of you.Gabi
Jade was far from the only one being obnoxious at the annual hospital party. Before the reading, Gabi and Dario seemed to be in competition to see who could be more annoying.
Dario started off by giving Gabi another speech about Chad being no good, then branched out to being rude to both Sonny and Paul because they investigated his microchip-lined purses.
Later, he pretended to mellow out so that he could give Gabi a different purse and get his microchip back. Naturally, Sonny saw him standing in a dark room slicing open the lining of a purse and now knows what's up.
For good measure, Dario then found Gabi again and informed her Abby was alive in order to try to derail her Chad train. The look on Gabi's face was priceless. It would be even better if she realized that JJ's secret was about Abigail, begged him for forgiveness, and got kicked to the curb.
In any case, this silly microchip business didn't need to be part of the Christmas episode and could have waited. In addition, Gabi was just as snobby as Dario, for the most part, and I couldn't believe she actually seemed to be empathetic when Sonny told her about Adrienne's condition.
Adrienne had her first breast cancer treatment this week. She didn't want anyone there but Kate, who has recently become a friend instead of an enemy because of her status as a cancer survivor.
Judi Evans has been shining in these scenes, and it's really nice to see Kate's softer side after a couple of years of diabolical plots and not caring who she hurts. In one of the funniest moments of the week, Lucas showed up and was shocked that his mom was actually supportive rather than being a troublemaker.
Adrienne got some nice Christmas scenes, too. Justin also displayed some softness that has been missing recently. Rather than trying to boss Adrienne around, he comforted her after her chemo made her sick on Christmas Eve and the pair reminisced about Christmases past.
It was hard not to feel sorry for Lucas, though, who skipped the Horton Christmas for Adrienne's sake and was presumably now alone.
I don't want to let go of you because I'm afraid if I do you won't be real.Chad
Finally, Chad finally crossed paths with Abigail. She insisted on running away but went to see her baby one last time first, again dressed in that ridiculous funeral hat and dress. Before she could make her escape, however, Chad came in.
Chad was understandably confused, hurt, and angry. His demands for explanations caused Abigail to ramble about how she'd been on the wrong pills and wasn't sure she'd ever be normal. Chad wondered how Abigail could do this to all the people who loved her. Abigail was convinced he was better off without her.
At one point, Abigail said she wished she had died for real, which didn't seem to set off any alarm bells for Chad. Suicidal ideation can be a serious risk, particularly for someone who is already struggling with PTSD.
Again, the responsible thing to do would have been to address it instead of allowing a comment like that to be a throwaway line.
This whole storyline is annoying not only because it keeps going around in circles, with Abby making moves towards Chad then running away again, but because it depicts PTSD incorrectly.
Marci Miller is doing a great job showing Abby as suffering from distorted, confused thinking an difficulty with emotions, but Abby's mental illness is depicted in a stereotypical way, which again sends the message that all people with mental illness are extremely unstable.
What did you think of Christmas on Days of Our Lives? Was Abigail and Chad's long-awaited reunion satisfying?
Weigh in below, and don't forget to check back on Sunday for our Days of Our Lives Round Table discussion!
Jack Ori is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.