Wow. I have been in a really good mood the past few days. Things are going well for my sotyr, although I took a night off last night to have some me time. I ended up spending it on the internet chatting anyway (shame on me, I didn't update here) and I felt really relaxed before bed last night.
Turns out, people actually do click on links, and Mystery, our ML for my reigon, came by *waves at Mystery in case she is reading* Which is nice. I did feel slightly guilty, because I had written about DJ, but there isn't much I can do about his antics, so I shouldn't, should I? I think sometimes I have too much concience.
I feel really pretty today, which doesn't happen very often, and that may be why I am in such a good mood. Beloved and I had an argument this weekend, but we made up and things are going well. I think it is really tense for her because of how much work she has been doing plus school. I wish she wouldn't work, I make enough we wouldn't be too badly off, and I think it would help her to relax. But she says we are too comfortable to do that, and we like to have nice things. I wish materialsm wouldn't get in the way of her mental health though.
Our anniversary is on Saturday (4 years) and we are going and painting pottery for eachother. Its a little tradition we have.
I am also going to post a bit from my story below, so if you are totally sick of my NaNo crap, feel free to skip strait to the comments section...;)
This is Chapter 13, which I think you can read without much need for explanation. Jeff is my main character Barb's uncle, Gail is her step sister, and that is about it. Oh, Moriah is her sister.
* * *
“Love and joy come to you, and to you your wassail too!” * “Here We Come A Wassailing” – Traditional English Carol
Chapter 13 I
t is getting colder still, and I am sure the three of us are going to have dreadful colds in the morning, but it is worth it. Watching Gail give Jeff a blow by blow account of my talk with Moriah is amusing, and her imitations of Moriah’s screeches of protest, which followed us all the way down the stairwell, are priceless. Jeff is laughing hard, nearly bent over at some points with the hilarity of it all.
“Well, Barbie doll, I have to hand it to you. You are going to get it big when your mother finds out. But its good, what you did. Maybe it will shock her into behaving next year.”
“I doubt it. And yes, mom will be pissed, but she should be thanking me on bended knee. I can’t believe she let Moriah get drunk today. Still, if she’ll let her live at home at 21, she will probably let her do most anything. I just hope no one will suspect it is our fault she has mysteriously disappeared.”
“Well, I know Gail is far too sweet to do anything untoward, and I can vouch for you. You’ve been out here smoking with me the whole time. I mean, can’t argue with that, can they? And as your uncle, I couldn’t let you behave so badly toward your sister.” He looks up at the sky, squinting at the snow that is still falling upon our heads, “I certainly wouldn’t let you go driving about in this weather.”
“Aw, Jeffy Clause. You are my own personal Santa again this year, you know it?”
“I try.” He ruffles my hair affectionately.
“I have to ask, Barb,” Gail interrupts from her spot on the swing on the front porch, “Why can Jeff get away with calling you Barbie, and your mom can’t? It seems a little odd.”
“Oh!” I laugh. “Because, Jeff made up that nickname for me. It was a thing between us when I was little…well, even now. And I don’t like that mom calls me that, because she isn’t Jeff, you know? It’s a thing for us. And she makes it into something its not, like I am a doll or something. Jeff says it as a joke, because I was such a tomboy when I was little, playing with James all the time. I was his ‘uncommon Barbie doll.’”
“I get it.” She smiles. “I think I like Barb better anyway. Man, it is getting a little colder isn’t it. Almost time for a warm drink I think.”
“Yeah!” I exclaim, delightedly. “I almost forgot. We should grab some wassail while the getting is good. Jeff makes the best wassail in the world.”
“I don’t know about the best….” Jeff protests.
“Shut up Jeff. You know it’s good.” “Alright, its good. Have you ever had wassail before, Gail.”
“No, I am afraid I haven’t.”
“Its really quite good,” I put in. “He makes it from scratch, its not like the kind you buy in the stores. It makes you deliciously warms on the inside.”
“What’s in it,” she asks suspiciously. Gail, I recall, is a bit of a picky eater, and has some off the wall food allergies.
“Well,” Jeff grins mischievously, “That depends on which kind I make. At first I made it with hot apple cider and some spices. But then I came across a ore traditional recipe.”
“That means with alcohol, right?” Gail questions.
“Right. It starts with the same base, I make a cider by hand from the apples. And the I take other fruit and fruit juices, like pineapple and lemon and orange and I boil them in a pot with cloves and allspice. Nothing you are allergic to so far, right?”
“Then I add dry sherry and some ale. I know you can have that.”
“Oh yes,” she answers. “I can have that.”
“Its my favorite thing that someone brings every year.” I think back, and remember all the years we had it. “Do you remember, Jeff, the first year you brought the new version?”
“How could I forget? I thought your mom was going to kill me.”
“No! What did Charlotte do?” Gail eagerly inquires, almost salivating to hear another story about the family, especially one that involves her new step-mother.
“Well, I guess I should say I didn’t make a non-alcoholic version for the kids. So some of the kids, including Barb, got into the wassail. Now, she was old enough, I think, to know her limit. I think she was about 13 or 14. She and James had a few cups and got a little rowdy singing songs by the fire.”
“Yep, my stocking still has the singe mark on the bottom,” I put in. “So, anyway, earlier in the evening Charlotte, who wasn’t a big fan of the wassail I made before, got into the new wassail and could, of course, detect alcohol was added. So she comes stomping over to me, turkey carver in hand, and starts railing about giving the children alcohol and what the hell was I doing. Well, I tell her that it’s a traditional drink and I thought that the adults might enjoy it. In my opinion James and Barb were old enough to have a glass if they wanted, they had drank a glass of champagne the New Year before, and I didn’t see the harm in it. So she asks me if I ever considered that maybe no one wanted alcohol at Christmas. I made the mistake of laughing at her. I told her of course every one did. Susanne and Tony always brought wine, even back in the days when things were good. Gran, of course, had a vodka orange juice thingy while she was cooking to stay calm with all those extra women in the kitchen and Grandpa and I always had brandy after dinner together.”
“That probably wasn’t too bright Jeff,” Gail laughs.
“No, it wasn’t. All of a sudden she gets on this rant about how wassail is some pagan holiday drink and Christmas is a holy time and how dare I taint the lord’s birth celebration with pagan rituals that were going to damn me to hell if I wasn’t careful and she’d have something to say before I drug the family down with me in my determination to practice unholy arts.”
“Oh. My. God.” Gail whispers in awe. “I knew she was nuts, but really.”
“It gets better. So Barbie overhears her mom freaking out on me, and comes over to listen, glass of wassail in hand.”
“Oh yes. And she sweetly points out to her mother that wassail is a traditional British caroling drink, and that it was given to children who went door to door singing songs during the Yule holidays. She also points out that they learned the wassail song the year before in the church musical and there was a lyric, how did it go?”
“God bless the master of the house, God bless the mistress too,” I put in. “Ugh. Only good thing to come out of that awful choir, and chance to give mom a hard time.”
“I see.” Gail is in stitches at this point.
“Barb tells her mom all of this,” Jeff continues, “and you can tell she has nearly reached her breaking point. She says she can see we’ve all got it out for her, and she isn’t going to stand in our way if we wanted to drink and make fools of ourselves. This directly leads to two things. First, we all make a point of enjoying the wassail all night. Two, the kids got pretty tipsy too.”
“I think that was my first hangover, actually,” I muse. “Christmas Day. Oh how it hurt.”
“The best part of all of this is that Charlotte goes with the ‘if you can’t beat them join them’ philosophy and proceeds to get completely soused. It was unbelievable. She spent most of the evening running around the house singing the wassail song and telling everyone that wassail wasn’t a pagan tradition at all.”
“No, Jeff, that wasn’t the best part and you know it.” I interrupt. “The best part was when he bought her a wassail scented candle the next year for a Christmas gift. She was half pleased, and half pissed. She stammered out the most hilarious thank you. Something like, ‘Well, I don’t think you are implying anything, or at least I hope you aren’t but well, isn’t this a lovely gift and how thoughtful and amusing for you to think of this scent and my, while I think of it, why don’t I grab a cup, does anyone else want one?’ It was one of the few times I have ever seen Jeff lose his cool. He had to run off to the bathroom and laugh in there. It didn’t help because we could hear him anyway.”
“Sounds like a good time. Would you guys like some, I was thinking of going in a getting a cup. It sounds awfully good, and it would be better out here in the cold, wouldn’t it?” Gail offers, turning towards the door.
“Sure, sounds great,” I answer, looking at Jeff, who nods his assent.
“I’ll be right back then.” She slips inside and closes the door quickly, and we both feel a rush of warmth as the heart from the inside slips out. The scent of turkey and baking pies reaches our nose, and I can feel my stomach starting to growl.
“She’s all right, I think. That Gail.” Jeff says to me, looking out into the yard, where out little light display reflects colorfully off the snow.
“I think so too. Its been too long since I had someone I could chat to the way I can with her. She’s pretty funny too. A nice balance though. She isn’t nearly as much trouble as I am.”
“But still, a good person. I am glad your mom married, if only because you two met.”
“Thanks.” I look over at him, and his look tells me he is thinking the same thing I am. “I still miss him. And she can’t replace him. But it is nice.”
“It will quit hurting in time, Barbie, I promise. The holidays are always hard when you miss someone you love. But you have Gail, and me. And the rest of the family, even if they don’t show it.”
“I know.” I reach in to my pocket and grab another cigarette. He lights it for me. “Always the gentleman, aren’t you,” I tease.
“Ha. I wish your aunt could hear that.” He inhales deeply. “I think Gail must have been waylaid.”
“Maybe. I like having a moment just for us, though. I am sure she needs a minute away from me anyway. She’s been here all day with me.”
“I see.” I watch the snow fall under the street lights, and reflect the colors of the characters running around the yard. Across the street, I can see Miss Sunshine moving in front of her curtains, and her Christmas lights come on as well. The brilliant white lights are nearly blinding at first, and it is a little harder to see the snow from far away. Up close, though, they are as large as ever, and I maneuver my cigarette to prevent it from getting wet, still hearing the occasional hiss of the snow hitting the tip when I inhale. I hear a soft thud against the front door, and Gail is poking her head in the window. Her hands must be full, I think, and go to open the door for her.
“You’re right. Its delicious.” She proclaims, as she comes outside. “I had a sip, and then a glass, and so I had to get a refill.”
“Better be careful, or you’ll end up like me, singing the wassail song by the fire.”
“I think I could handle that.” We take our wassail and this time, the silence doesn’t seem to bother Gail. We stay here, watching the snow, smoking slowly and sipping our drinks quietly. The warm, musky taste of the wassail fills my mouth, contrasting with the sweet bitterness of my cigarettes. I sigh, and look at them, watching the snow catch in Gail’s brilliant red hair, and melt on the tips of Jeff’s old boots. They both seem deep in thought. Jeff smokes his slow steady pace and watches the street lamps. Occasionally he will bring the cup of wassail to his mouth, and gasp slightly at the feel of the alcohol.
Gail leans lightly against the side of the house, and sighs from time to time. I think I see tears glistening on her cheeks, but it could be the snow melting their too, I am unsure. She keeps her cup close to her mouth, and I can see the spirals of steam battling with the cold mist that rises from her mouth and nose when she exhales. She looks up. At the stars, which shine more brilliantly than I think I have ever seen in a snowstorm, and she tilts her head from side to side every few moments.
It is a happy silence, punctuated by the sound of the softly falling snow and out family, waiting just behind the door. But for the moment, it is just the three of us, enjoying a quiet Christmas. I think of them, and the things I love about my family and the people I love. I think of the happy things that this quiet time, and my family can bring to me. I think of my friendship, with these two people, maybe unlikely people. I think of how James and my Grandpa would have been happy to see this friendship.
I almost feel sane again.