Thursday. The play rehearsals are not going well. For one, no one has bothered to learn their lines, since Mrs. Norton keeps prompting them from the sidelines. Also, Mrs. Norton keeps adding new characters and songs—including a song for the trees, to Greg’s dismay—because she thinks everyone “deserves” a chance to sing in the play. Greg is thankful that Rodrick won’t be there to see Greg humiliate himself. The one upside to all this is that the tree costumes now have armholes, so he can throw apples at Patty.
Mrs. Norton is enthusiastic about theater and wants everyone to have a chance to perform, oblivious to the social terror experienced by the students. Greg is particularly worried about singing in public because he is afraid of the reaction of his brother Rodrick, who tends to make fun of him and play pranks on him. Ironically, though, Greg also plans to bully Patty by throwing apples at her.
Tuesday. On the night of the play, several things go wrong at once: one student has stage fright, and the student who plays Toto brings a book onstage. Greg is embarrassed that Rodrick has come to see him sing. Perhaps even worse, Manny shouts “bubby,” potentially making the whole school aware of his embarrassing nickname. Thinking quickly, Greg attributes the nickname to his friend Archie Kelly.
Greg is so terrified that his classmates will find out about the “bubby” nickname that he pretends the name is in reference to his friend Archie. This opportunistic move demonstrates just how important popularity and social perception are to Greg.
Tuesday and Wednesday. Seeing that Rodrick is videotaping the song and will mock him, Greg simply refuses to sing, and the other trees follow suit. Mrs. Norton tries to remind them of the lines, but instead, Greg and the other trees begin throwing apples at Patty. The apples knock off Patty’s glasses, and the play has to end, since she can’t see without them. That night, Greg’s mom throws the bouquet of flowers she had bought for him in the trash. The next day, Greg is pleased to see that Archie is being made fun of for the embarrassing nickname instead of him.
Although Greg is frequently a victim of bullying, here he mirrors the same behaviors that have victimized him. He throws apples at Patty, knocking off her glasses and ruining her star performance. He also pins the “bubby” nickname on his friend, which Archie is then mocked for, showing his disregard for others. Greg’s mom throws his flowers in the trash, suggesting she is disappointed with his bullying behavior.
Sunday. After all this excitement, Greg remembers that Christmas is coming up, and it’s time to make his wish list. Manny circles every toy in the catalogue, which Greg thinks is a bad strategy, since then his parents might just get him terrible gifts like clothes. Greg remembers a time when he was seven and he really wanted a Barbie Dream House as a fort for his toy soldiers. Greg’s mom was supportive, but Greg’s dad was uncomfortable and asked Greg to choose toys that were “more appropriate for boys.” Greg asked his Uncle Charlie for the Barbie Dream House instead, but to his dad’s dismay, Uncle Charlie simply bought Greg a Barbie—which Greg admits that he played with “once or twice.”
Greg’s request for a Barbie Dream House for Christmas is threatening to his father, who would rather that Greg would play with toys that are more “appropriate” for boys. His use of the word “appropriate” suggests that he thinks Barbie products are for girls, and boys should play with more masculine toys. Greg admits, however, that he liked playing with the Barbie that Uncle Charlie bought him—even though his father clearly felt that his son should adhere to a more traditional ideal of masculinity.
Thursday and Christmas. Greg’s mom takes Greg to the Giving Tree, a gift donation program for the homeless. She donates a red woolen sweater, which Greg thinks is a terrible gift, since he hates getting clothes for Christmas. On Christmas morning, Greg is disappointed with his gifts—which are mostly books and socks—while noting that Manny “made out like a bandit” and got almost everything he asked for. Greg gives books to Rodrick and Manny and a generic “#1 Dad” coffee cup to his parents, and Rodrick gives Greg the “Lil Cutie” comic—which he knows Greg hates. Greg hopes that his Uncle Charlie will give him better gifts, but Uncle Charlie simply gives him a large framed picture of Uncle Charlie himself. Greg’s dad gives him the biggest gift—a brand-new weight set—but Greg doesn’t have the heart to tell him that he has already lost interest in weightlifting.
Greg’s unhappiness with his gifts demonstrates his childishness and lack of maturity. He still sees Christmas as a holiday primarily oriented around gift receiving rather than giving gifts, as demonstrated by his lack of interest in donating gifts at the homeless shelter. He also seems to put little effort into the gifts he gives his family, since he gives his parents a set of generic coffee mugs. His jealousy of his younger brother reveals that he is still preoccupied with who in the family receives the most gifts, which similarly prioritizes giving over receiving.
Greg thinks one final wrapped present will contain the Twisted Wizard video game, but instead he finds that it contains a red woolen sweater intended for the homeless man, since Greg’s mom accidentally swapped their gifts and gave the video game to the homeless man instead. Greg re-gifts the “Lil Cutie” book to Rowley but is disappointed with the gift Rowley gives him, a “Big Wheel” toy scooter. He is also jealous that Rowley has received the Twisted Wizard game.
Greg continues to be immature and less than generous around Christmastime, as when he is annoyed that a homeless man has received the video game intended for him. He doesn’t put much thought into the gift he gives Rowley either—he simply re-gifts the unwanted “Lil Cutie” book he had received from Rodrick.
New Year’s Eve. Greg resentfully explains that he is grounded on New Year’s Eve because he told Manny that a small black ball of thread was a spider. Manny ate the “spider” and told Greg’s mom, who was furious even though Greg tried to explain that the thread wasn’t a real spider.
Greg often feels that Manny is the beneficiary of unfair favoritism. This suggests that he still desires parental attention and sees his siblings as competition, rather than trying to care for his younger brother.