The song blaring from the rec room paused Spock's deliberate steps, and against his better judgement he edged in to the room, trying to remain as inconspicuous as possible. Unfortunately the good doctor made that impossible as he rushed enthusiastically to the vulcan, his hands cradling a few glass ornaments of which Spock had grown familiar with from his association with humans. "Well, Spock, come to join the party, have you?" Dr. McCoy guessed cheerfully.
"Indeed I have not," Spock corrected, "may I inquire the reason of this occasion for celebration?"
The doctor gaped at him, and Spock almost hoped he had caused permanent muteness, but his hopes were quickly dashed by McCoy's reply. "It's the holiday season, Spock."
Spock's questioning look succeeded in disgusting the doctor. He was being deliberately obtuse, something he was fully aware irritated McCoy. "what holiday is impending?"
Feeling this didn't deserve a response Dr. McCoy strode back to a pine tree that stood to one side of the room, surrounded by several laughing smiling humans. "Anoying computer." mumbled McCoy, casting Spock a dark look.
"What was that, bones?" Kirk asked pleasantly, fixing an ornament to a branch.
"It's Spock, Jim," McCoy informed him, "need I say more?"
Kirk glanced over to his first officer who was beating a hasty retreat to the door, a task made more difficult by the people streaming through it, eager to take part in the festivities. Kirk quickly moved to his side and Spock turned to greet him. "Leaving so soon, Spock?" Kirk asked jovially.
"I see no need to remain, captain." came Spock's voice.
The music suddenly increased in volume, the beat quickening in to a cacophany of drums, horns and off-key voices. "--silver bells, silver bells, it's Christmas time in the city--"
"Come on, Spock, enjoy the season."
They had to shout to be heard over the din of music and lively conversation. "I wasn't aware there was a season to enjoy, captain. In space there are no seasons."
"I'm not talking about the change in weather that causes different seasons, Spock, I'm referring to a time of year when people feel goodwill towards other beings, and wish them well in the coming year."
Up rose Spock's brow, an indication the discussion wouldn't be put to rest. :I fail to understand why humans must require a specific time to behave civilly towards others, captain, when good intentions should be held for others everyday."
Kirk had no ready reply to this observation but McCoy who had joined them made his exasperation known. "I suppose vulcans don't celebrate feelings of goodwill."
"We do not, doctor," Spock said, "we feel good behavior is an expectation, not something to be enjoyed at a particular time of year."
McCoy's face flushed crimson, a sign he was near to shouting. Kirk quickly redirected the conversation. "It's not just a time to share good wishes, Spock. It's also a time of happiness in which we exchange gifts and participate in other fun activities."
Nurse Chapel took that opportunity to hurry over, smiling at spock, her eyes alight with the barely concealed emotions she held for him. 'have you come to help decorate the tree, Spock?"
McCoy whirled on her. "Oh, haven't you heard, Christine?" he huffed, "our vulcan is above such frivolities."
"Doctor, please refrain from speaking for me."
Then turning to Chapel he said, "I received no invitation to participate in the festivities."
Her eyes widened in surprise. Of course Spock wouldn't understand that an invitation wasn't necessary. He would naturally assume that the gathering was for only those who had been selected. Before she could extend an invitation however, the doctor jumped in. "This isn't an official function, Spock. You don't need to be invited, you just need to participate."
Kirk and Chapel nodded their ascent but it was still obvious Spock felt uncomfortable at barging in on something which was so alien to him. His mother had celebrated Christmas each year with a collection of human friends and Spock had joined her until he'd made the decision of becoming completely vulcan, and vulcans didn't celebrate such boisterous and emotionallly charged occasions. He had all but forgotten the reasons for the holiday and the activities that went on. Seeing his discomfort, Kirk cast him a reassuring smile and gestured to the tree. "It's not hard to decorate, Spock," he explained, "you just hang ornaments on the branches."
He relieved McCoy of one of his ornaments and demonstrated the metal hook by which it could dangle. "The difficulty of the task is not in question, captain." Spock observed.
"That's right, Jim," McCoy chimed in, "this is much too easy for Spock. It's most likely too demeaning for him."
"You are once again hoisting opinions on me that I have not voiced, doctor," Spock reminded, then turning to Kirk, "if my assistance is needed, I will help."
A slight frown shadowed Kirk's face. "Spock, i'm not ordering you to do anything you don't want to do. I just thought you might find decorating a tree interesting."
Seeing the officers grouped near the door, Uhura moved over to them. "Are you all going to stand around while the tree is being decorated?" she asked.
"We're not standing around, Uhura," McCoy explained, "we're trying to persuade this stubborn, green-blooded vulcan to help decorate the tree."
Uhura smiled encouragingly at Spock. "Don't you want to get in to the Christmas spirit, Spock? Everyone else is."
"Spock isn't known for following the crowd," McCoy pointed out, "we humans are too illogical for him to want to involve himself in our petty goings-on."
Ignoring the doctor's remarks, Spock directed his answer to Uhura. "I do not see the purpose in festooning a conifer with circular glass bulbs and flashing colored lights. It is a drain on the ship's resources and takes up space that could otherwise be employed in more functional means."
The doctor looked as though he would explode at any moment, and Kirk tried hard to conceal his amusement. "Now, Spock," Uhura chided gently, "don't be a scrooge. It's all in fun."
Spock's brow inched up even further. "Why are you comparing me to a fictional character in a tarren play?" he asked in bewilderment. "I am only stating the facts so that everyone can be well informed of the needless energey that is being wasted."
"Maybe we like wasting energy." McCoy challenged.
For once Kirk agreed with the doctor. "Come on, Spock, don't be a stick in the mud. Any drain on the ship will be replentished once we reach starbase ten."
"Captain," Spock said, "I am not a piece of wood, nor am I mired in mud."
McCoy gazed heavenward as if praying for patience and Chapel motioned to the tree. "I won't take no for an answer, Spock," she stated firmly, gesturing him to the tree and pushing a few ornaments in to his hands.
For a moment he seemed stunned at the instantaneous way he had been thrust in to this situation, then with great care he hung a red bulb on the nearest branch. "That's it, Spock," Kirk praised enthusiastically, hanging his own ornaments, then motioning to a few branches that were out of his reach continued, "hang a few up on those branches. You're the only one who can reach them."
Spock dutifully obeyed, placing green and glittering ornaments precisely, as though they were delicate objects in an experiment.
The quintette was distracted some minutes later by two other decorators on the other side of the tree arguing goodnaturedly. "I tell you, dey originated in Russia."
"You expect me to believe that?" scoffed the other person.
"Of course," said the first innocently.
They moved around the tree to get more decorations and Spock could see that it was Sulu and Chekov, the two people he had expected. "Dey have been grown in Russia for centuries. How do you think dey arrived in other parts of de vorld?"
"I think the Christmas tree came from Germany." Sulu pointed out.
"No," Chekov said, "I am sorry to say dat you have been voefully misinformed, Hikaru. My papa told me stories of how de first Russians chopped down trees in de forest den took dem home vit a horse-drawn sleigh. Infact ve still cary on de tradition to diss day."
"Yeah well, Pavel, sorry if I don't believe you. I still think they came from Germany."
"Dose germans stole our tradition and took credit for it." Chekov insisted.
"Gentleman," Spock interrupted, even though he had no desire to become embroiled in their quarrel, neither could he stand by and allow misconceptions to be bandied about so casually, "Sulu is quite correct. The Christmas tree did indeed originate in Germany, where it then gained popularity in other parts of Europe before the people migrating to the United States continued the custom there."
"What did I tell you, Pavel!" Sulu chortled, "I was right!"
Chekov shook his head mournfully, as though feeling sorry for the poor uneducated people surrounding him before disappearing behind the tree with his ornaments. Grinning, Sulu rejoined his friend. "Well, you nipped that argument in the bud." McCoy said, reaching across Spock to place his ornament.
"I was simply clarifying a misconception, doctor," Spock said, "and if you need access to this area of the tree, I will move so you will have no need to crowd me."
McCoy opened his mouth to protest but was diverted by the group of singers that appeared at the front of the room, garbed in parkas, scarves and mittens, Uhura leading them in a lively rendition of "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree". "--what a bright time, it's the right time to rock the night away--"
Spock looked questioningly at Kirk and McCoy. "Why are they atired in outdoor apparel suited for winter climates?"
"That's a good question, Spock." Kirk said, looking equally as bewildered.
The group concluded the song followed by vigorous applause, then McCoy called out, "What's with the ski suits?"
Grinning broadly Uhura waved expansively at the group around her. "It's customary on Earth and their colonies to get all bundled up and go caroling, and since the climate is for the most part, cold at Christmas time, they have to wear warm clothing. They stop at houses to sing for people, then gather in one location afterwards to drink warm cider. Since we're not on Earth, I thought it might be fun to at least dress the part of carrolers, even if it's plenty warm. It makes things more festive."
"Here here!" Sulu called.
"Well let's hear another song." Kirk requested.
The singers cheerfully obeyed, "--deck the halls with boughs of holly, fah-lah-lah-lah-lah,-lah-lah-lah-lah--"