A/N: This was written as an afterthought and because I felt like writing something Christmas-y. I hope you enjoy! And a quick thanks to those who submitted reviews- each one is like opening up a gift!
A Very Noland Christmas
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas just like the ones I used to know...
The soothing sound of Elvis's voice resounded throughout the shopping center. The bitter cold of the season and the festive decorations seemed to have everyone buzzing about with Christmas spirit. Tina hummed along as she waited patiently.
"Do you think this makes my butt look fat?"
Tina stood in the dressing room with a smirk as Chuck exaggeratedly modeled the dark blue pair of jeans in front of the long mirror. "Very funny." She walked up to Chuck and embraced him. "I think they look great on you," she stated, smacking him on his behind. "Besides, you really needed pants."
Chuck smiled, "Well, okay then. Thank God this was the last of them." He eyed the pile of clothes he'd tried on and sighed. "Are you sure you don't mind, Tina? I feel like we've been clothes shopping forever."
With a sly smile she told him, "You know, Chuck, the only thing I enjoy more than dressing you is undressing you." Tina faced him and nimbly began to unfasten the button to the jeans.
With wide eyes, Chuck protested; grabbing her hands, looking around fearfully. "Tina, my God, we are in a public place!"
Her hands slid easily around his neck and she kissed him provocatively. "Like we've never done that before."
"Yeah, but, we still have Christmas shopping to do. Don't we still have to find something for Ricky?" Chuck breathed, finding himself disarmed by the continual movement of her soft lips on his neck.
"Ricky's gift can wait," Tina told him flirtatiously, her green eyes bright as she pulled him back into the small room and quickly locked the door. "I can't."
Chuck's voice was husky as he complied, "Well, when you put it that way..."
"Merry Christmas, Tina and Chuck, and congratulations on your wedding! With Love, and Best Wishes from The Lovett family," Ricky read the card in his hands and scrutinized the picture of Kelly, Jerry, and their daughter, Katie's smiling faces. "Hey, Chuck isn't this the gal you dumped for my sister?"
Before Chuck could answer, Tina emerged from the kitchen with a sliced ham on a tray and set it on the dining table. "Why yes, it is, Ricky. And thanks for bringing up such a painful memory," she told him offhanded.
His eyes met Chuck's. "You made the right choice."
Chuck smiled and nodded in agreement as he poured wine into their glasses. "Definitely."
An attractive blond in her mid-thirties rounded the corner holding a tray of deviled eggs and set them on the table as Tina gave her a smile. "I'm so happy that you can be here with us, Trisha." Tina winked at Ricky. "It's been years since my brother's brought a lady friend home for the holidays."
Trisha's light blue eyes lit up, and a warm smile came about her face. Her voice was surprisingly nasal and high-pitched. "I was so thrilled when Richard invited me to meet his sister and brother-in-law!"
Tina blinked -still surprised at how Trisha's voice did not match her appearance. Curiously, Tina turned to Ricky. "Richard?"
Ricky cut in gruffly, "Yes, Richard, so what of it?"
"Well , it's just that we've only ever called you Richard, hmm...let's see...never," she replied laying silverware on the table.
"So, I've decided that I want to be called Richard now."
Tina stopped what she was doing, stood up straight, and met her brother's green eyes. "After 44 years, you decide you want to start being called Richard?"
Chuck looked up alarmed by Tina's challenging tone.
Ricky's eyes met hers with annoyance. "Oh, I'm sorry," he began; sarcasm apparent in his tone, "do you have a problem with that, Bettina?"
Chuck caught Tina narrowing her eyes at her brother and cut in. "No, she doesn't."
The foursome took their seats and began to serve themselves.
"So, Chuck, is there any news about your book?" Ricky asked, cutting his ham.
"It should be released any day now." Chuck told him with a smile.
"When Richard showed me the spread about you in People magazine, I was so excited to meet you!" Trisha squeaked.
"My husband seems to have that effect on people," Tina told them proudly, winking at Chuck. She watched as Trisha and Ricky exchanged affectionate glances, "So how long have you been seeing each other?"
"Five months," Trisha chirped.
This was a surprise to Tina because Ricky had never mentioned his petite, blond companion. Then again, after two failed marriages he had taken to solitude like a hermit. As she caught the rapport between him and Trisha, she couldn't deny that her brother looked happy. "So why don't you tell us the story of how you two met?"
"Oh it was sweet, really," Trisha began, "My girlfriend and I were having dinner and a waiter dropped a note for me from a man at the bar."
Ricky shifted in his seat uncomfortably.
With a smile Tina asked, "Oh, you must tell what the note said!"
Ricky cleared his throat and shook his head at Trisha.
"It was so cuuuute," Trisha told her; her eyes grabbing the group's attention. "It said, 'I'm Richard, but I have no idea who you are. Let's change that,'" she finished with a twang.
Tina tried to keep herself from laughing. "Really?" she asked, as Trisha nodded enthusiastically. Ricky's eyes stayed fixed on the plate in front of him.
Chuck watched the scene, amused. He'd never seen Ricky embarrassed before and he could see the twisted pleasure it was giving his wife. The siblings hadn't stopped bickering since his arrival and in Tina's mind Ricky had shared too much information about her personal life. "It's too bad Mom couldn't be here."
Ricky picked up the cue quickly, grateful to Chuck for changing the subject. "Yeah, she's up north with her boyfriend and she sends her best."
"So, Trisha, how about we discuss some little known facts about my brother?" Tina asked with an evil grin.
Ricky closed his eyes and shook his head.
Trisha's face lit up and she squealed, "I would love to!"
Tina found that she couldn't help herself. Happily she seized the opportunity. "Well, when Ricky-sorry, Richard, and I were kids, we used to play dress-up."
The blond was positively captivated by the idea. "Awww, that's so sweet!" she said looking at Ricky adoringly as he gestured wildly to Tina to stop. "You mean he used to dress up in your daddy's suit and tie?"
Ricky attempted to change the subject. "So, Chuck, Tina says you've become pretty good at welding..."
Chuck nodded, watching amusedly in silence enjoying a mouthful of ham.
"No suit and tie for my big brother," Tina roared, her nose crinkled. "He used to dress up in Mama's dresses!"
Chuck stifled a laugh, and began coughing uncontrollably at the piece of ham that had gone down the wrong way.
"That's enough, Bettina!" Ricky exclaimed turning different shades of red.
Cocking her head to the side, Trisha gazed at Ricky adoringly. "That is nothing to be ashamed of," she said laying her delicate hand on his shoulder. The blond turned to Tina, "I think it's sweet that he has a feminine side."
Tina had reached over and was patting Chuck's back firmly. "Oh, Trisha, you don't know the half of it. Up until he was a teenager he was afraid of the dark...he used to scream like a little girl!" Tina added wickedly.
"Did I ever mention that my sister cusses like a sailor?" Ricky asked the blond.
Tina's mouth dropped open. "I learned from the best, eh, Rich-ard?" she shot back.
The blond watched in horror as the siblings continued to take verbal jabs at each other completely ignoring Chuck's attempts to settle them down. Suddenly, Trisha stood up from her chair and let out a loud, screeching whistle from her lips that caught everyone's attention. "People, it's Christmas! This is a time for peace and love." Satisfied with their guilty expressions, Trisha continued, "I have an announcement to make," she cleared her throat, regaining her composure and fluffed her hair, then continued in her high-pitched tone, "Richard asked me to marry him..."
Tina's expression quickly changed to surprise and the whole group's attention was focused on Trisha as they watched her expectantly.
"And I said yes!"
A smile overcame Tina's lips as she noticed the blond's shining eyes and Ricky's delighted expression. The two did appear to be in love. "I'd like to make a toast. Let me be the first to say congratulations to Ricky and Trisha on your engagement, I know you'll be very happy together," she said, raising her glass to the happy couple and winked at her brother mischievously. "May this marriage last longer than Ricky's other two."
Tina felt Chuck's elbow dig into her side as she delighted in Ricky's and Trisha's shocked expressions. "I was just joking."
Chuck furrowed his eyebrows at his wife and stood, smiled, and faced Ricky and his fiancee. "I'd like to say something." He cleared his throat, "The past four Christmases I have spent entirely alone. Each one I thought might be my last. Now, being here, I am so thankful that I have a beautiful wife, a brother-in-law, and a future sister-in-law to share this Christmas with. I look forward to many more to come. Family is truly the most important thing."
A small tear slid down Tina's cheek and she smiled brightly at Chuck. Trisha and Ricky met Tina's gaze with a smile.
"I ask you now to raise your glasses," Chuck requested and watched as everyone followed suit. "To family. May us never have to live without them."
The group smiled appreciatively, insults gone and forgotten, and toasted in unison, "To family."
The livingroom smelled of coffee and the mouth-watering aroma of chocolate chip cookies. The tall Christmas tree sat brightly in front of the corner window, beautifully decorated with many handmade ornaments as well as gold, silver, and red shiny spheres. Garland made from popcorn covered the tree.
April lay by the sofa gnawing on her new rawhide bone and Hobbes dug his claws into his brand new scratch box. Tina and Chuck sat side by side exchanging gifts; the carpeted floor now a cluttered mess of wrapping and bows.
Admiringly, Chuck's eyes treasured the engraved Swiss army knife in his hand. "This is perfect, Tina. Thank you."
Tina leaned over and kissed him softly on the lips. "May you never be stranded without it." Blindly, she reached for another gift and handed it to Chuck.
With a smile, Chuck accepted the package from her and tore into it eagerly. "Chess for Dummies," Chuck read sourly as he tore the remainder of the wrapping paper from the book. "That's cute, Tina. Real cute."
Tina giggled. "Aw c'mon, Chuck, it was a gag gift, I haven't given you your real gift yet."
Chuck laughed. "By the way, you know that see-through lace nightie was a gag gift, don't you?"
Her face fell and she asked him with a disappointed frown, "It was? You mean you don't want me to wear it?"
Chuck corrected himself, "I mean that it was intended to be a gag, but, of course I want you to wear it," he told her nodding eagerly.
Satisfied with his reply, she smiled and handed him another gift. "This one's for Wilson."
Chuck's mouth dropped open at her thoughtfulness as he eyed the package and looked to Wilson, who sat happily beside them wearing a santa hat. "Aw...Tina, you shouldn't have," he told her examining the not quite square shape of the present.
"Well, I just figured he must get lonely because you don't talk to him anymore."
Chuck leaned close to her and brushed her lips lightly with his. "That was very considerate of you." He tore open the wrapping quickly and chuckled as he gazed upon a new Wilson volleyball. Tina turned the volleyball around and Chuck laughed out loud as his eyes took in the sight before him.
Tina had drawn a face. It was female, complete with eyelashes, bright red lips, dimples, and one eye winking.
With a big smile, Chuck took the female volleyball and placed her beside Wilson. "Oh, I can hear him already. He's saying, 'How you doin'?'" The sound of Tina's musical laughter reminded him. "Okay, your turn now."
Tina was puzzled. "Well, Chuck, you already gave me earrings, a cell phone, a red scarf, which I love, by the way, and the ..."
"There's one more," he told her as he handed her an envelope decorated with a shiny silver bow.
She gave him a puzzled look as she slid open the envelope. She pulled out the contents and with a smile of delight, she jumped up and down and hugged him excitedly. "You're taking me to Hawaii again?!"
Chuck smiled. "Well, I figured it's also our six-month anniversary-"
Tina interrupted him with a long kiss. It was such a wonderful surprise, and since they'd been together Chuck never ceased to be thoughtful and caring. She wondered how it was that she ever lived without him. It was then she remembered the last gift under the tree. It was Chuck's and it was the one that meant the most to her.
Gingerly she placed the airplane tickets back into the envelope. "Thank you, Chuck. What an amazing gift. I can't wait," Tina told him and squeezed his hand. "You have one more gift."
The two stood in front of the tree; their eyes settled on the huge present before them. It was wrapped in shiny snowman paper and topped with a big, red bow.
With a laugh, Chuck said, "I can't possibly guess what that could be."
Tina wore a sneaky smile. "And you won't. Open it."
Chuck made his way over to the side of the large package and lifted it. It wasn't heavy. "Okay, it can't be a big screen tv." He took the red velvet bow from the top and placed it aside. "Love the bow." With his finger, he tore into the seam at the top. "Love the wrapping."
In anticipation she watched him slowly, torturously unwrap the box. She was tempted to unwrap it herself.
He tore open the box, and to his surprise, he found another box inside, also wrapped. "Wow...it's...it's...another box!" Chuck took it out and began to unwrap. "Love the wrapping- penguins this time." He lifted the slightly smaller box and shook it. "Let see, " he guessed, "it's a..nother box," he said as he unwrapped it and opened it.
Five boxes later
Chuck's tone was less enthusiastic as he grew tired of unwrapping the boxes. "Love the wrapping. Angels, this time."
Tina felt like she was going to burst from excitement as she watched him finally unwrap the smallest package that was the size of a shoebox.
Chuck breathed a sigh of relief as he opened the wrapping and found that this was the real gift. He lifted the tissue carefully and found a piece of paper. His eyes met hers curiously and she quietly stood by his side as he gingerly lifted the gold-embossed sheet.
He read it out loud:
Ten Reasons Why I Love You
1. Because you make me laugh.
2. Because you love Elvis.
3. Because you saved my life.
4. Because you delivered the package to me.
5. Because you love me.
6. Because I couldn't ask for a better husband.
7. Because you are a kind, generous human being.
8. Because of your ocean-colored eyes.
9. Because these past six months have been the best of my life.
10. Because you are the father of my child.
That's right, Chuck, you're going to be a daddy. Merry Christmas!
Chuck had tears in his eyes as he read the last words. Silently, he turned to Tina and pulled her into his embrace. Tightly he squeezed her and gave her a long, sweet kiss. "Thank you, Tina. It's the best Christmas present you could ever give me," he told her sincerely, his blue eyes clouding up again. "When?" he whispered anxiously.
She couldn't wipe the grin off her face if she wanted. "Late August or early September."
The two held each other in front of the Christmas tree, perfectly content and happy. Tina looked up into his eyes and kissed him. "Merry Christmas, Chuck. I love you."
It was the happiest day of his life as his arms held Tina, and his heart was filled with joy. "I love you too, Tina. Merry Christmas."
The End- Again
A/N: To anyone who still has a loved one to buy for, this list of ten reasons is an excellent gift; it costs nothing, yet means the world. One year I made one for my husband, parents, and my brothers. The response was overwhelming!
Well that's really it-seriously. Unless someday, I'm inspired to revisit them. Who knows? What else is there to say but, Merry Christmas and I hope you all have a Happy New Year! Oh yeah, and of course, please let me know what you think of my story!