Supernatural Counseling: A Very Supernatural Christmas S 3 EP8
By Therapist Nicki
I realize I am skipping around a bit and this blog is coming out on Christmas Eve 2020. In “A Very Supernatural Christmas” we see Sam and Dean investigating a series of murders where victims were pulled up through the chimney. Sam believes they are dealing with Krampus, the Anti-claus, and starts to pore through Pagan lore. Dean is pushing Sam to “do Christmas right” this year because he knows it will be his last since he made the deal with the cross roads demon and she only gave him one year to live. Sam is in denial that this will be Dean’s last Christmas and refuses to get into the spirit. He also flashes back to a particular Christmas when he waited for his dad to come home because Sam had a special gift for him. In this episode you see many different dynamics at play: Dean trying to embrace the time he has left, Sam’s denial, Dean being parentified, and Sam looking to Dean as his care giver.
Dean wanting to embrace the spirit of the holiday and trying to get Sam to celebrate with him is showing Dean somewhat accepting he only has 5 months left to live. We see this a lot with individuals who have been diagnosed with terminal illnesses wanting to make the most of the time they have left with loved ones and to experience what they can with the time they feel they have left. Individuals who make bucket lists and try to tick an item or two off each year are making sure they are not wasting life, they are living it.
During Dean’s insistence on the holiday Sam is being “the Grinch” because he believes they will find a way to save Dean. He feels if he gives into holiday cheer he will be showing Dean he is accepting Dean will be gone soon. Denial is one of the stages of grief/acceptance Kubler-Ross wrote about. Denial takes many forms: minimization, optimism bias, avoidance, control fallacies, mental filtering, normalizing, just-world fallacy, and externalizing responsibility. Sam displays several of these during the episode. Optimism bias consists of an unrealistic belief that things will work out, and one will not experience negative consequences. Sam shows this when he says we are going to find a way to get Dean out of this deal. Not remembering that every time either of the brothers “tries to fix something” it starts a whole new set of problems. Sam uses avoidance when he will not give into Dean’s merry making for the holiday. This is specifically avoiding trauma. Avoiding trauma is when an individual intentional deflects or refuses to engage with the pain and intrusive thoughts associated with trauma. Control fallacy is another form of denial Sam uses because he feels he has more control over the outcome of Dean’s life than he really does.
While trying to fight the Pagan deities who snack on annual tributes the show flashes back to 1991 Christmas in Broken Bow , Nebraska. Young Sam and Dean are in a motel room, waiting for their father to return. Sam is waiting to give his dad a special gift he got from uncle Bobby and is asking Dean several questions about their father and his occupation. Young Dean not knowing how to deflect the questions or regulate his emotions when Sam brings up their mother, he gets angry and yells at Sam , “to never ask about mom.” Dean gets angry again when Sam admits to finding their father’s journal and reading it. Sam is a very tenacious child and will find the answers to his questions one way or another. Since Dean would not be honest with him, he went snooping for the answer and found John’s journal . After confronted with Sam’s findings Dean confirmed monsters were real and myths like the Easter Bunny were not. Here Dean is taking on the parenting role having to reveal hard truths about life. Later Dean steals a tree and presents from a house to make a Christmas for Sam. Again Dean on the caregiver role for his brother. Sam realizes it when the presents were a Barbie doll and a baton. Understanding Dean went through a lot of effort to make this night special from him gives Dean the gift he was going to give his father, the amulet Dean wears in the present day. This gift is a symbol of how special Dean is to Sam and how he sees him as a role model and father figure. I think it shows how the brothers protect each other any way they know how.
-This is the first episode with a special title card.
– In the final scene of the episode, Sam and Dean exchange presents, drink eggnog and put of a football game in an attempt to have a “normal” last Christmas. The toast with the eggnog Jensen’s (Dean’s) reaction is genuine. Behind the scenes Jared (Sam) poured rum into his glass without Jensen knowing. Another thing that makes Supernatural awesome is the relationship the cast members built with each other. Jensen and Jared are both practical jokers and play pranks on each other and the cast all the time.