This fic will comprise short reflections from characters relating to Christmas, mostly more angsty than fluffy. At the moment, I have plans to do Cal and Emily as well, and if inspiration strikes me I may do others.

Disclaimers: Don't own anything to do with the show.

Gillian

What I remember about Christmas as a child is, more than anything, the smells. Gingerbread and cinnamon and mulled wine wafting through the house in clouds that on some days seemed almost visible to me. My father would always buy my mother perfume, and she'd spritz some on her wrist seconds after tossing the wrapping to the side. The smell of pine from the Christmas tree filled the house, brandy and orange from my mother's homemade Christmas pudding invaded your nose the second you entered the kitchen, the pot pourri my mother put out for when the family visited was always spicy, rich, warm and festive.

There was something else that rattled around the house every December, easing the chill from my bones and making my smile just a little bit wider: hope. That next year would be the year, when so many things happened. The year when a sober day for my father was not a rare occasion to be noted and celebrated, but a normal occurrence, so usual it almost went unnoticed. The year when my soaring grades, career ambitions and pipe dreams were not scoffed at or ignored, but instead praised, encouraged, welcomed. The year when the word family wasn't associated with false or pretend or lie, but instead became something so real to me, to all of us, that we could forget a time when it wasn't.

Christmas time, when the fire was always burning, the lights on the tree were twinkling, the presents were piled high – that was the time I felt the most hope. It was the time – when my parents were giving each other kisses on the cheek in thanks for their presents, when we were all laughing at the silly jokes in crackers, when we were eating good food and genuinely feeling we could stand each other's company – that I felt most like we were the family I'd always craved.

Hope doesn't have a smell, but if it did, I know exactly what it would be. Gingerbread and cinnamon and mulled wine, pot pourri, perfume and pine, brandy and orange, and the smell of warmth, and happiness, and home.