A/N: I'm not too sure about this, but at least I got something uploaded before the deadline!


Last year had been kind of a bust as far as Christmas celebrations were concerned. Naturally, Carly's morning sickness had chosen that particular morning to show up for the first time. She'd had some hope that it would confine itself to the morning as it was supposed to, but it hung around for most of the day. Carly was pretty much confined to bed, except for the times when Jack had to help her run to the bathroom. And even after the nausea more or less abated, the thought of going out somewhere, or even consuming something other than ginger ale, had been so overwhelming that Carly had almost gotten sick all over again!

But this year, Jack seemed to be determined to go all out and do all the traditions, and Carly couldn't help but get swept up in his enthusiasm. After all, it was their first Christmas as parents, so it was extra-special. When Jack drove up to the apartment building with almost an entire U-Haul compartment's worth of presents, Carly only scolded him mildly (although it was quite difficult fitting them all under their fake tree).

They had to take their first family Christmas picture as well. Jack normally didn't care for posed photography, but he said this was different. So he bought Erika a red velvet dress trimmed with what had to be most of Belgium's lace supply, and after several attempts they finally got Erika to stay still in Jack's lap long enough to take the picture.

There were also some cultural differences to overcome. All her life, Carly had assumed that Christmas in Japan was pretty much the same as how the Americans did it. Later, she thought she should have realized there would be differences. One day, she'd gone out shopping to pick up a Christmas cake, only to find that there were none. Sure, there were many different kinds of cake that called themselves Christmas cake, but the Christmas Cake was nowhere to be found. How weird! According to Jack, the closest thing the Americans had to a universal Christmas cake was something called "fruitcake," but he said it wasn't worth buying. So Carly ended up making her own Christmas cake, and managed not to have any major mishaps. It wasn't as pretty as the ones in the Neo Domino stores, but it ended up tasting fine.

As if that wasn't enough, there was the conundrum of Christmas dinner. In Japan, KFC and Christmas had always gone together like green tea and ice cream. In fact, one of Carly's first memories (and one of her few happy early ones) was of her and her mother eating fried chicken together on Christmas night. But Americans seemed to prefer eating ham or turkey instead. Carly wasn't about to go anywhere near another turkey, though. Ham looked equally daunting. Everything was turned upside-down here!

And come to think of it, green tea ice cream wasn't that easy to find here either.

But as usual, Jack helped smooth things out. He showed Carly that there was a KFC just a few blocks from their apartment building. So after a long day of opening presents, they bundled up Erika (who had seemed more interested in playing with the wrapping paper than with her new toys) and set off to get their food. It was a longer walk then it normally would have been, since they kept stopping to look at the decorations and lights. There were several other Japanese people at the KFC, which made Carly feel quite a bit more relaxed.

After they brought home and ate dinner, they had Carly's homemade Christmas cake for dessert. Jack said that it was probably better than the store-bought ones Mikage brought over when he was King. "But then again," he mused, "I was doped up on whatever medicines Godwin was giving me, so maybe I'm not remembering correctly." Poor Jack never knew how to quit when he was ahead, but Carly decided she'd take it as a compliment. At least he didn't say it was terrible.

Late that night, they tried to have some quality time together, but Erika started crying just when things were getting hot and heavy. The nurse was spending Christmas with her own family, of course, so they had to stop and go take care of Erika themselves. When they were done quieting her, they were too tired to do anything more than go right to sleep. Oh well. Such were the trials of parenthood.