You're All I Want for Christmas by doc
AN: Well, this is the end of the line folks. I want to thank each one of you who took the time to post a response to my story. I'm glad to know that you enjoyed it. I had great fun writing this tale, much of which was based on my own childhood memories. I think that's why I love the holiday season so much. Christmas in our household was always a magical time that revolved around family, traditions and love. Thank you again for reading.
Disclaimer and Credits: I don't own JAG or any of the characters. I just take them out and play with them on occasion before replacing them safe and sound back on the shelf. The song 'You're All I Want For Christmas' was written by Seger Ellis and Glenn Moore.
Wednesday, Christmas Day
25 December 2013
The Rabb House
La Jolla, California
Harm paused before his closed workshop door and released a nervous sigh. Staring lovingly at his wife, he issued a silent prayer that this wouldn't backfire and send her into another depth of despair.
"You ready, sweetheart?"
"I guess…why are you so nervous?"
"I just want you to love the gift as much as I love you," he brushed a strand of hair from her face.
She gave him a sweet smile, "I could never love anything as much as I love you, but I'm sure I'll enjoy it nonetheless…because you took the time to make it for me."
He gave her a quick kiss and then opened the door. Taking a tentative step inside, she found an enormous box wrapped in beautiful floral Christmas paper. Attached to the front was a huge multi-looped cream-colored bow. She stared at the box trying to determine how best to gain entrance.
He slipped an arm around her waist and presented her an envelope, "Maybe you should start with this."
"Alright," she exhaled a deep breath ruffling her hair, "…you know, you're making me a little nervous too, Sailor."
He smiled and thumped his fingers against the box, "Go ahead, open the envelope."
She released the flap and withdrew an ornate card with the inscription 'For The Beautiful Woman In My Life' written in flowing cursive script across the front. The words inside were equally brief, but ended with a personal note, 'My Dearest Sarah, I hope you will allow me to spend the rest of my life fulfilling all your dreams…and wiping away the disappointments of the past. I love you, Harm.'
"You and the kids are the fulfillment of all my dreams," she brushed her thumb over the back of his hand. "Now, how do I get into this box, Sailor?!"
He laughed at her excitement, "It's easier than it seems…just pull!"
"I didn't want to make it too difficult or run the risk of ruining the gift," he placed his hand on either side of the huge box and gently pulled it forward. The back of the box was missing and the structure slipped free. As he maneuvered it to the side, the gift came into view.
She gasped at the sight and began to cry. He took her into his arms, "Sweetheart, please don't cry. I didn't want you to be sad…I was just trying to right a wrong."
She shook her head against his chest unable to speak. "Sarah, if you don't want it, I'll give it away."
"Nooo," she gasped, "…I love it and I love you for wanting to make that dream come true. How did you…when did you… It's perfect…every detail is just like I remember."
"So you're not upset with me," he pulled back enough to look in her face.
"No," the tears still fell, "…of course not, I love it! It's absolutely incredible."
"You're not sad?"
"No, not anymore…you took a miserable childhood memory and turned it into what I'd always hoped it would be."
She stepped forward to study the large yellow house. It was just as she'd described. Two stories with bright yellow siding, a wood-shake shingled roof, windows trimmed in clean white with green louvered shutters. A winding cobblestone walk led to a large front door opened wide, as if beckoning friends and family to visit. And best of all, was the wrap around front porch complete with chairs and a swing. He'd added window boxes filled with flowers and shrubs in the lawn.
As she stepped closer still to take in every facet of the gift, she noticed the family gathered together on the front porch. There was a mother and three kids…two boys and a little girl. The figurines were exquisite and perfect in every intricate detail. She reached for the woman and recognized her face. Another tear slipped down her cheek as she turned back to his gaze.
He reached for the children and held them up to her view, "My mother knows an artist who specializes in sculpting miniatures. I gave her pictures of you and the kids. She did an amazing job...don'cha think?"
"They're perfect, but…"
"Come here," he reached for her hand and pulled her to the backside of the dollhouse. The rear of the structure was open, so they had access to every room. Most of the house had plain white walls, although intricate crown moldings, trimwork and hardwood flooring had been laid. There was a wide sweeping staircase leading to the second floor and a large fireplace adorned the living room.
"I left most of the rooms unfinished in terms of paint color, wall covering and the like…that way you can design and decorate the house as you see fit. And all the rooms have copper electrical strips embedded in the floor and ceilings so you can add lighting. As for the furniture, I figured we could build that together, over time. This project ought to keep you and Ellie busy for years."
"But, there's one thing missing…."
"Oh, I almost forget," he pointed to the master suite and her eyes widened in surprise as she noticed the miniature reproductions of their own bedroom furniture, perfect in all details. "I figured this was the one room that needed to be finished," he held up the figurines of the kids with a mischievous glint, "…how else did we get these."
She laughed heartily at his silliness for the first time since they'd entered the room. "I'm afraid I need to remind you that two of those weren't created in that room."
"Not for lack of trying," was his singsong reply.
"I'll grant you that!" she grinned from ear-to-ear. Her expression then dimmed just a notch.
"What is it, sweetheart?"
"Well, it's just that…"
"Where are you?"
"Oh, well you see," he extended his arm and opened his hand, "…that's what this is for."
She took the granite disk from his palm and pinched it between her fingers, "I don't understand?"
He pulled her to his side and pointed to the backyard of the house. It was then she noticed a wide black strip. It was edged in cobblestone pavers and ran the length of the yard from the road to the open garage door. He slowly ran his finger along the driveway strip pausing at the center. The driveway was intersected by a large decorative circle overlapping its width. Just as with the driveway, the circle was edged in cobblestone as well.
When he looked back to her expectantly, she shrugged her shoulders in questions. He pointed to a round depression in the center of the circle.
"Oh!" she exclaimed, sliding forward the granite disk with its 5-piece coin. It fit perfectly in the gap.
"But, I still don't understand…where are you?"
"Do you remember once telling me what you thought of my Navy attire…specifically dress whites and gold wings?"
"Yeah," she frowned, "…I said they were overrated."
"And why was that?"
"Because…because I preferred you in your dress blues."
"Uh-huh," he quirked his brow, "…and why was that?"
She glared, "Are you fishing for a compliment, Flyboy?"
"No," he chuckled and tweaked her nose, "…now answer the question, Marine! I seem to remember it had something to do with a fairytale ending."
She rolled her eyes and sighed, "I told you…my white knight showed up in a rose garden wearing dress blues with his cover pulled low riding in on a sleek gray Tomcat."
His flyboy smile intensified to full wattage as his tongue peeked out, "Call the ball, Marine!"
"Call The Ball!"
He lifted his arm overhead and made a 'vrooming' noise as his hand circled and flew low…a fighter jet clutched in its midst. He caught the 3 wire in a perfect landing and slid to a stop right over the nickel on the granite disk. Then he opened his other hand to reveal the fifth figurine. "Sarah, you're the beacon that lights my way home."
She reached for the small familiar figure outfitted regally in Navy dress blues…cover perfectly placed. Tears flashed in her eyes once more as she threw herself into his arms. "I don't know what to say…thank you," her voice caught in her throat.
He held her tightly to his chest, "Oh sweetheart, you are and always will be my greatest pleasure. It was an honor to make this long past-due dream come true. I love you, Sarah."
She wrapped her arms around neck and pressed her face to his skin. He held on while she trembled and never let go. Finally as her cries calmed to shuddered breaths, he kissed her sweetly, long and slow.
Pulling back to dry her tears, he softly asked, "Ready to go join the others for Christmas brunch."
She sniffed and chewed on her bottom lip trying to control her tears. Then softly whispered, "Almost."
"Need a little more time?" he lifted a hand to cup the back of her head and placed his lips against the soft skin of her forehead.
She gently took his other hand in hers, "Yes, but not for the reason you think."
He cocked his head to the side and peered in her eyes, "Then why?"
She turned to walk from his workshop still clasping his hand in hers, "Come with me?"
She led him through the garage pausing at the stairs, "To bad we don't have the key to unlock the elevator, I'm not sure my jittery legs are up to climbing the stairs."
"What do we need in the upstairs apartment?"
"You'll see!" she tugged him up the first step.
When he attempted to pick her up in his arms, she reared back, "No way, Sailor…that's were I draw the line! I have no intention of us ending up in a jumbled heap on the bottom landing…and on Christmas Day no less!"
"I still don't understand why we need to come up here," he followed on her heels.
She stopped on the top landing, right outside the door, "Because, my dear husband, it's your turn for fun."
His pupils flared black, "Really? Why Mrs. Rabb, what about the kids?"
"Not that kind of fun, you goof!" She opened the door and waggled her brow, "Follow me?"
As they entered the studio, she flicked on the light. All the furniture had been pushed aside to the farthest corner of the room. In its stead, at the center most prominent position, sat a large structure covered in white.
"What's this?" Harm circled close.
"My special gift to you," she grinned.
"But you already gave me the ring."
"I know…but this is my attempt to right a wrong and fulfill a dream from the past," with that she gripped the sheet and pulled.
He studied the gift as it came into view. It was a large table with a raised outer edge. At first he thought it might be a pool table, as it was of the right size and shape.
"What do you think?"
He moved closer carefully studying the details. The main portion of the table was several inches lower than the outer edge and painted an ordinary black. There were no visible holes or markings necessary for games, pool or otherwise. The structure was just ordinary, plain and intact. It was the raised border that was the art of the piece. He ran his fingers softly over its surface. It was cool and smooth to the touch.
"How?" his voice cracked with emotion.
She came to his side, taking his hand, and began to explain. "Frank had a contact who helped me locate a fine craftsman to create and build it. The nautical details were cast in pewter according to my specifications and design. I wanted them to reflect all of your family's rich military history. Your mom helped with some of the historical facts. Then the artisan covered the entire border in a thick epoxy finish so it wouldn't be damaged during use."
He walked around the table brushing his fingers over the pewter display. There were ships, destroyers, aircraft carriers…all bearing a striking resemblance to the ones that he, his father or grandfather had served aboard. There were fighter jets and planes. Interspersed among these, he found the Naval Academy crest, the anchor insignia of the Navy, oak leaves commemorating his last held rank, the JAG mill-rinde, scales of the law, a crest for Georgetown University…and so much more, the history was almost overwhelming. And strategically embedded throughout the entire design, above, below and in between…were nickels.
He looked up his eyes glazed with tears, and pointed to the coins, "What do they mean?"
She reached up to caress his cheek and wiped the dampness away. "They're to commemorate the important dates in your life." She pointed to the coins as they passed, "The year you were born, graduated high school, the Academy, law school. The year of your ramp strike, when you came to JAG." She smiled sweetly, "The year we met in the Rose Garden, the one where we were separated and sent to our own commands, 18 months later when we found our way back. The year of our wedding, the date of Ben's birth, Connor's and Ellie's. Each nickel tells a different tale."
"I'm…I'm…speechless…this is…so amazing," he shook his head as tears continued to fall.
"Not half as amazing as you," she whispered. He bowed his head to her shoulder and buried his face there. She stroked her fingers through his hair to comfort his cries.
When several minutes had passed, he pulled back to stare in her eyes, "Thank you…."
"Your welcome, but I'm not done."
She placed a hand around his waist, and turning him back toward the table, directed once more, "Stay!"
She walked across the room to retrieve the final gift. His eyes watched her intently as she placed the gift-wrapped box before him on the table.
"What's this?" he asked with a nervous lilt.
"The fulfillment of a dream from the past." She brushed her hand over the sunken surface at the center of the table. "I had this table built with a function in mind."
His hand hovered over the gift-wrapped box. "Go ahead…open it, sweetheart."
He tentatively lifted the flap and pulled the paper back, "Oh Mac, where did you find it?"
"It took some searching to locate just the right model and year, but your mother said this is the one."
"I…" the broken voice caught.
His hand slid over the surface of the box and gently lifted the lid. His fingertips touched the façade of each car and track, remembering and reliving each detail…the smoke stack on the engine…the railing on the caboose.
Mac slipped beside him, "I thought you and the boys could start with your original design and build from there. The center of the table is depressed so that you can run the appropriate electrical conduits for the track. You should have plenty of room to build the town with mountains, rivers, houses…whatever you decide. From there, you could incorporate more modern train sets or collect the older versions."
He just continued to stare at the box that held the train and didn't utter a word.
"Harm? Sweetheart, I know you wanted to build this with your father…but…"
She took him in her arms and lifted his chin, "I thought it was time to start a new tradition…with the next generation of father and sons." She opened her hand to reveal the Christmas Eve black velvet box, "That's what these are for."
He lifted the box from her palm and cracked open the lid. Withdrawing the coins from the satin lining he studied their dates…1969 and 2013.
She took the coins from his grasp and placed them into two circular divots on the raised border.
He finally spoke, "The year the dream died…and the year it was reborn."
"Exactly," she smiled.
"Mac," his voice cracked, "…this is…incredible."
She pulled him into her embrace, "Then you like it?"
He hugged her back, "I love it…and I love you…more than you could ever know."
She dried his tears, "Not more…the same." She kissed his lips.
The gentle clearing of a voice interrupted their private moment. Harm diverted his head and briskly swiped away the tears.
"Darling, I'm sorry to interrupt, but the natives are getting restless." Mac reached out to take Ellie from her grandmother's arms, while the boys stampeded into the room.
"Daddy, what's this?!" Connor excitedly asked and reached up to touch the engine.
Harm slipped an arm around both of his sons, "Mama thought us guys would enjoying building a train set. What do ya say?"
"Wow," Ben exclaimed, "…we get to help?"
"Yeah buddy," he ruffled his fingers through Ben's hair, "…we get to do it together."
"Well then, I think you'll be needing these," Papa slipped conductor's caps over both the boys' heads. "And no train engine is complete without a whistle," he held up wooden whistles to their view.
The boys took off around the room, tooting the shrill whistles at full strength. Trish stepped beside her son, "I guess it's safe to say those are a hit." She reached up to kiss his cheek and slipped a paper into his grasp, "Merry Christmas, darling."
His mouth gaped open as he studied the sheet in his hand, "You saved it?"
"Of course, dear…you and your father spent so many hours on that plan. I thought you might like to have it back…as a legacy of sorts, I guess."
He pulled her into his arms, "Thanks Mom, you have no idea…."
She caressed his cheek, "Oh, I think I do."
He nodded, "You knew about all this?" he gestured with his eyes.
"Yes, that's quite a special lady you have. You're both so much alike…supporting each other…loving each other…driven to right the wrongs. I'm so glad you found your way back to one another."
"Me too, Mom. I can't imagine my life without her," his eyes danced. "If it hadn't been for you, Evie and Mattie…I almost lost her."
"Oh, Harmon, it never would have happened…not for long, anyway. Fate had a plan…I've heard you 'both' say that," she kissed his cheek once more. "Darling, you belong to each other. No matter what, you would have found your way back."
"Thanks Mom…I love you."
"I love you too, dear."
Evie clapped her hands from the base of the stairs, "Brunch is served! Come and get it, everyone!"
They kids clambered down the steps with thunderous noise. Harm stepped aside from the door, allowing his parents to pass, then extended an arm to his wife. "This has been some Christmas, Mrs. Rabb!"
"That it has…a secret Santa…cherished childhood gifts," she leaned in for a kiss, "…but I wouldn't have wished it any other way."
"Me either…I love you, sweetheart."
"Forever and always."
"To the moon and back," his lips lingered over hers.
"Uh-ummm," cleared a giggled throat, "…are you two coming to breakfast?"
Harm chuckled as he pulled away and led his wife down the stairs. He collected Evie into his arms and hugged her until her feet left the floor. "Merry Christmas, Evie. I'm so glad you decided to stay here and spend the holiday with us."
"That's because I'm spending New Years in Boston," she quipped.
"Boston? Visiting an old friend?" he asked.
"Mmmm," she cocked her head, "…I guess it depends on how you define old? If you mean our age, then I guess we qualify as old."
"Mr. 'K' is actually quite a new acquaintance," her eyes twinkled in mirth. "He graciously assisted me on an urgent…ah, 'clandestine' task. We thought it would be fun to finally meet," she threw him a mischievous wink.
"He? Clandestine? Urgent? Evie, I don't like the sound of that?"
"Oh Harmon, you're worse than my boys," she lovingly patted his cheek. "It's nothing I haven't done before! Don't be such a prude!" And with that, she left him sputtering for breath as she giggled and danced her way into the house.
Harm found his wife curled up on the sofa with legs tucked underneath. He smiled when she offered him a hot mug, "What's this?"
He took a tentative sip, "Mmmm, it's different."
She nodded in response, "It's vanilla hazelnut. I added extra chocolate chunks and whipped cream."
"I like it," he settled close beside her on the couch and tipped his head back. "I'm exhausted…I think I could sleep for a week."
She brushed her fingers through his hair, "Did you get Ben settled back down?"
"Yeah," he closed his eyes, "…he finally fell asleep. I'm just glad he didn't get the other two riled up again."
She chuckled softly, "I think it was all the excitement…he had quite a day."
"We all did," he sighed, "…even the pets. Did you notice how Suzy romped nonstop with the kids, while Molly hovered at Evie's side. What was that all about? I've never seen Molly take such a liking to someone outside the immediate family. She usually sticks pretty close to her pack."
"Well, Evie was in charge of the food," she laughed, "…maybe Molly was hedging her bets."
"Maybe," he shrugged. "Either way, both the animals are tucked in with the kids."
"Ahhh yes, blissful quiet…for the first time in weeks, it's kinda nice."
He rested quietly for a moment to the point where she thought he'd fallen asleep. When she attempted to remove the mug from his grasp, he popped open an eye, "Hey, don't be taking my hot chocolate just because you finished yours."
"I wasn't," she wiggled her cup with a laugh. "I thought you'd fallen asleep and I didn't want the chocolate to spill."
He rolled his head her way, "Nah, I was just thinking our current surroundings fit the poem…although it is a day late."
"What poem," she frowned.
"You know…'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house…Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…The stockings were hung by the chimney with care…In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there…The children were nestled all snug in their beds…While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads…And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap…Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap'."
"I am not now, nor have I ever worn a handkerchief to bed!" she exclaimed.
"Thank goodness for that!" he laughed. "I'd rank that right up there with flannel!"
She continued to snicker softly as she set her mug aside and laid her head against his shoulder. "So, did you have a good Christmas, Sailor?"
"Um-mmm, one of the best," he kissed her head. "How 'bout you?"
"I loved every part of it, from the flu…to the e-mail fiasco…the secret Santa…my gifts. It's been an amazing December. I only hope the new year holds as much happiness and joy."
He placed a hand on her thigh and stroked his thumb across the soft fabric of her silk gown, "I see you're wearing one of my favorite Christmas gifts."
"I aim to please," she grinned, "…all kidding aside, what was your favorite gift this year?"
"Ummm, don't think I could pick just one. My ring, that extraordinary table…the train…they were all amazing, sweetheart. How about you…which one was your favorite?"
"Dollhouse, definitely," she kissed his cheek, "…because you made it for me with your own hands…and because of what you wanted it to mean. I love that you wanted to turn a sad memory into something glad. Something that Ellie can one day save as a legacy…a remembrance of her dad."
"Same here…the train…a chance to enjoy all that with the boys."
She laid her hand atop his own and stroked the rough skin. "Harm, thinking back over all your Christmases…which one is your favorite of all times?"
"Mmmm," he closed his eyes and pondered, "I guess I'd have to say our very first?"
"Our first? But you spent it with Jordan?"
He tucked her hand securely in his own and gave it a squeeze. "That wasn't our first…that was a second. And I'm talking about our first Christmas together."
"We've been together, in one form or fashion, for a long time, Harm."
"I know, but I'm talking about our first Christmas together…really together…seven years ago."
"Oh," she smiled at the memory, "…that was a perfect Christmas. Santa really came through that year."
"Yes, he did...I got my best gift ever," he smiled back.
"Really, what was that? Your watch?"
"Nope! Loved the watch, but that wasn't it!"
"The sweater?" she scowled.
"No, not the sweater," he laughed.
"But I didn't get you anything else that year. Was it the gift from your folks…or Mattie?"
He leaned over her and set his mug on the coffee table and then stood. Turning back to her, he extended a hand, "Dance with me?"
He tugged her into his arm, "Dance with me."
"But you didn't answer my question!"
He twirled her away from his body and pushed the button on the CD player advancing the tracks. When the first few bars of introduction to the song began to play, he smiled and twirled her back to his chest.
"Mmmm?" He tucked their joined hands over his heart and pulled her close.
"Don'cha wanna tell me?" her voice sounded worried just a bit.
He rubbed his cheek against hers and whispered gently in her ear, "I'm trying." He then began to hum softly with the instrumental of the music. When 'Mr. Christmas' himself, Bing Crosby, started to croon, he sang along…
You're all I want for Christmas
All I want my whole life through
Each day is just like Christmas
Anytime that I'm with you
He slowly danced them around the living room, occasionally spinning her away from his side, then gathering her in once again. Never missing a beat with the lyrics.
You're all I want for Christmas
And if all my dreams come true
Then I'll awake on Christmas mornin'
And find my stocking filled with you
His fingers swirled over the soft silky gown at her back. Hers stroked through his hair. When Bing started the verse once again, she joined Harm in the melody.
You're all I want for Christmas
All I want my whole life through
Each day is just like Christmas
Anytime that I'm with you
Finally, they both stopped singing and gazed into each other's eyes.
"You're my best gift, sweetheart," he soothed, "…always have been and always will be. I love you."
Tears welled in her eyes, "Same here, Sailor. I love you, too," she caressed his cheek.
"Forever and always?" he softly asked.
"To the moon and back," she whispered with love. And taking his hand in hers, she led him down the hall.
The End…For Now?
AN: This will be the end of my Rabb family for a while. As much as I love them, I think it's time for me to try something new. A few months back, someone on another board posted a message stating that they "were tired of the 'sappy' family dramas." I took that to heart. I can't say that I'll never write about this family again, because I do love them so…but I think it's time to give them and you a break. My next long story will be a very different genre than my previous. I have one chapter completed, but I expect it will take another 2-3 months to finish the task.
In the meantime, I will be adding short stories in response to Cece's HBX challenge lines. My January challenge is almost complete and I hope to post it by Sunday or Monday. This challenge is also an attempt by me to try something new. Who knows, down the road you just might see my Rabb family pop-up in a challenge again, if the lines seem to fit the tale.
Thank you for indulging my desire to write about family, love and fun. After all, that's what I hope our favorite mythical dynamic duo enjoy for the rest of their lives…they deserve no less after 9 years of torture and dance.
References and Credits:
'YOU'RE ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS'
(Seger Ellis / Glen Moore)
Twas The Night Before Christmas, Clement Clarke Moore, written 1822. First published in the New York Sentinel, 12/23/1823