The Truth of Traditions
December 24, 2002
Written by Megan Austinson
Obviously, Buffy the Vampire Slayer does not belong to me. The opening scene was pulled from a transcript of episode 3.10 "Amends". This is a one chapter Xander-centric story, explaining the full truth behind his Christmas Eve tradition of sleeping under the stars. If you like it, please let me know!
It was a few days before Christmas, and as was becoming usual, the weather was out of sync with the season. It was the last day of school before two weeks of vacation, and the hallways were teaming with students dressed in summer clothes.
"So, you doing anything special?" I asked as I walked down the hall with my best friends, Buffy Summers and Willow Rosenberg. Despite being midmorning, the temperature was already up over 70 degrees.
"Tree. Nog. Roast beast. Just me and Mom and hopefully an excess of gifts." She turned to red-headed Willow. "What are you doing for Christmas?"
"Being Jewish," the girl said a bit sarcastically. "Remember people? Not everybody worships Santa."
"I just meant for vacation."
"Mm, nothing fun." We reached the small student lounge area. "Oz and I had planned…but I guess that's off."
I had noticed Cordelia seated on one of the couches, talking with a friend. She eyed me, letting me see the hatred still in her eyes. Oh well, I sighed to myself as I turned back to my real friends.
"Well, I'll be enjoying my annual Christmas Eve camp-out," I informed them. "See, I take my sleeping bag outside and I go to sleep on the grass."
"Sounds fun," Willow said. I'm sure she was wondering why I'd never mentioned this custom of mine before. I mean, we've known each other since kindergarten.
"Yeah, I like to look at the stars, you know? Feel the whole nature vibe" I tossed off, trying hard to sound carefree. Cordelia had risen from the couch and almost joined our little group. I was suddenly regretting ever telling her the truth about my Christmas habits.
Cordelia smiled smugly at me, an evil glint in her eye. "I thought you slept outside to avoid your family's drunken Christmas fights," she shared, raising her voice a little so as more people would hear. I inwardly winced, but kept my hurt inside. For the most part anyway. I did look at her with a touch of disappointment. How could she not see that I still loved her?
"Yes, and that was a confidence I was hoping you'd share with everyone," I said with a sarcastic smile. She glared at me for a moment. Cordy, one. Xander, one.
After she shared that personal bit that no one else knew, I was glad I hadn't told her why I needed to avoid my family's drunken fights. At least if I was outside, they were too drunk to find me and I had a way to get away if they somehow did. Yeah, my family had always been a lout of drunkards, at least as far back as I could remember.
Gazing at our scrawny Christmas tree from the doorway, I wondered what my friends were up to. Jesse was probably sound asleep in bed already, eagerly waiting Christmas morning. It was quite late for a ten-year-old to be up, especially on Christmas Eve. Willow would be in bed too, unless she had sneaked out of bed to play more with the new computer her parents had given her for Hanukah. I shook my head. Right, Willow sneaking out of bed. She freaked out if she was home from school two minutes late.
Something crashed in the dining room, and I could hear someone yelling. Everyone came to my house for Christmas every year, so the house was full of relatives. Someone brushed past me.
"Mom?" She stopped and looked down at me, her eyes glassy. Great, I thought, she's been drinking. Before she could say anything, my father bellowed from the other room.
I ran into the room as quickly as I could, being wary of who might be there and the glass that I knew littered the floor. My father and his brothers were there, bottles of alcohol scattered around the floor and tabletop. For a fleeting moment I wondered what Christmas was like at my friends' houses.
"Yes, Dad?" I asked meekly. It took all my willpower to stand there in front of him as he sat in one of the chairs; he was mean enough when he wasn't drunk and judging by all the bottles, he was really drunk.
"What are you still doing up?"
"Yeah, if you stay up too late, Santa won't come," my Uncle Rory added, taking a swig from a bottle of peppermint Schnapps.
"Santa doesn't exist, and even if he did, he only comes to good kids and Dad says I'm no good!" I clapped my hands over my mouth. I hadn't meant to say anything like that, it just escaped, and I knew I was in trouble now.
Anger flashed across his face and my expectations were met with a hand hard across my face. He rose from the chair and grabbed me be the collar, shaking me so hard my head whipped back and forth. The rage seemed to pour out of him as he beat me without saying a word. My uncles sat and watched as they continued their drinking.
My mother entered the room and yanked me from his grasp. Without meaning to, she threw me to the other side of the room and began screaming at my father. I lay on the floor, trying to regain my senses.
"How dare you hit my kid!" she screamed at him.
"How dare you tell me what I can and can't do with the little bastard!" he screamed back. They screamed back ad forth at each other for a while, the usual stuff coming up. Then the night took a whole new twist.
"You wouldn't treat him so bad if he was yours," Mom yelled. The room seemed to suddenly drop ten degrees.
"Damn right!" he hollered. "If you hadn't been sleeping around we wouldn't even have this problem!"
I didn't hear any more, since I darted to my feet and ran out of the house. Silent tears streamed down my face as I crouched in the corner of my back yard. I made a silent vow that night, never to be around to hear whatever they might say during a drunken Christmas fight.
"Earth to Xander." I looked up to see Buffy and Willow standing over me. "We've got to get to class, are you coming?"
"Oh, yeah, right, class," I stammered.
"Are you okay?" Willow asked, looking concerned.
"Yeah, just anticipating two weeks without school," I said, giving my usual goofy grin. She smiled back and I knew I had successfully quelled any worries she may have about me.
"Do you suppose it'll get any cooler?" Buffy asked, fanning herself with her hand.
"I don't know," Willow responded. "You know, the last three years…"