"Is it straight yet?"
"Mmm, a little to the left, DiNozzo."
"How 'bout now?"
"Maybe more to the right."
"McGee, make up your mind! I didn't even move it an inch to the left!"
"You are hopeless. Get down and let me do it."
Tony grumbled as he stepped off the ladder, sending a glare to Tim who was standing in the back of the room, and letting Ziva take his place at attempting to get the Star of David they were placing on the top of the Christmas tree to lay straight. Gibbs had made it especially for this holiday, as they'd all decided to band together this year and celebrate the magic of Christmukkah with one another. The holidays were, after all, not a time any of them wanted to spend alone.
Going to stand by McGee, Tony watched as Ziva tapped the star gently with her finger, and frowned when she managed to get it to lie exactly straight.
"Perfect!" Tim said with a grin, holding up two thumbs. "Good job, Ziva!"
"Of course it cooperates for the Jew," Tony said with an eye roll. She shot him a glare, but it was softened by the amused smile that tugged at her lips.
"Anti-Semitic remarks like that will only get your present returned to the store," she said when she was by his side, nudging him gently with her hip. "No matter how jokingly they may be said."
He smiled down at her, shrugging, but didn't reply. They both knew getting a present was far more important to him than being able to tease her about her heritage. She patted his shoulder and went to sit down as McGee and Abby began to try and string up the lights.
"Ziver," Gibbs called out from the kitchen before she could even get settled on the couch, his voice laced with irritation. "Get out here! The damned potato mix keeps sticking to the bottom of the pan." Trying to not laugh, she shared an amused look with her partners before making her way into the kitchen.
"I'm telling you, Jethro," Ducky said from across the room, "Pressing down on them like that may spread them out, but it will make them cook instantly to the bottom of the pan. Let them sit in the oil and cook out. They aren't hamburgers, after all."
"Go back to mixing your dressing."
The Scotsman chuckled with good humor, shaking his head, and going back to looking at the dressing he was attempting to make to go over the salad.
"Here," Ziva muttered, going to nudge him away from the stove gently as she grabbed the spatula from his hands. "Perhaps a woman's touch is all that is needed."
Gibbs let her take over, nodding lightly in thanks.
"It is too bad Jimmy could not join us," Ziva said as she began to poor some mix into the oil. "Is he celebrating with Breena's family, Ducky?"
"I believe so," he said with a cheerful tone. "The boy is absolutely head over heels and wants to do everything he can to impress her family. It reminds me of an old friend I had back at Scotland Yard, one who was so smitten with a young girl, but worried her family wouldn't approve because he was Catholic rather than Jewish. The two were so set on one another, but-"
"Timmy!" Abby's voice rang shrilly through the household, cutting Ducky's likely long winded tale off, and causing Gibbs to glance out from the doorway of the kitchen to see what was going on. McGee had managed to get the wires of the lights tangled carelessly, knotted around the trunk of the tree. "I said left."
"I went left!"
"My left, not your left!"
"Well you should've clarified!" He huffed slightly, going to try and figure out where the knots had started and the best way to get them undone without breaking any of the lights. Tony was watching quietly from the back, clearly amused by the entire ordeal, and there was an air about him that screamed he wished he had popcorn.
"You guys aren't very good at the whole team work thing, are ya?"
"Shut up, Tony!"
"Well at least you got that down in unison," he said with a chuckle.
Squeezing his way between Abby and the tree, Gibbs smacked McGee's hand away from the strand of lights, causing him to give a muttered, "ow..." as he rubbed his hands. He didn't object, however, and simply watched as their Boss's skilled hands managed to work out the knot, carefully pulling the lights from the tree and handing them back over to Abby.
Tim fought off a blush at the fact that he hadn't been able to figure it out as quickly and rubbed the back of his neck. "Uh... thanks, Boss."
Gibbs motioned quietly with his head towards the kitchen. "Go help 'em set the table. Those latke things should be done soon and we should be able to eat." Nodding, Tim left the room, going to grab Tony's elbow and drag him off to help.
Abby smiled at Gibbs, going to hand him the loop of lights so they could continue to wrap them around the tree. "Alone at last," she said with a playfully flirtatious smile, one that Gibbs chuckled at and rolled his eyes softly. He went to wrap the lights gently around his side of the tree, before handing them around the back to the girl's outstretched hands. "You totally don't need to be given directions like McGee, huh? You must be a real pro at this. With all the experience."
"You implyin' that I'm old, Abs?" he said with an amused eyebrow raise.
"No! Of course not. Never old, Gibbs. Wisened and matured, maybe. Experienced. But never old."
He chuckled softly and the two continued to decorate the tree in silence. They'd managed to even get through a few ornaments before they heard Ziva clearing her throat behind them, smiling fondly at the two.
"Dinner is served," she chimed cheerily.
The dining room table that was hardly ever used had been decorated with platters of food, elaborately set up in a way that Gibbs never would have managed on his own. Leaving Ziva and Ducky to the cooking had clearly been the right idea and he couldn't help but wonder how she'd managed to form the potato pancakes so perfectly. The team gathered round and Tony voiced all their thoughts with a loud, "God, this smells delicious. Let's eat."
"Wait!" Abby said loudly, making them all pause with their hands hovered over their forks. "We have to give thanks."
"I thought that was Thanksgiving," Tony responded with light confusion.
"It's a holiday tradition in general. We're supposed to be thankful for the delightful company we have," she said cheerily, smiling proudly at the people around her.
Ducky cleared his throat, holding up his glass. "A toast, then," he said simply. "To a wonderful feast."
"And our first Christmukkah," Abby added, lifting her own glass.
Tony's soon followed, scrunching his mouth as he tried to think of something to say. "And many more to come?"
"To team work," said McGee simply, his own glass rising in the air.
"And cherishing friendship," Ziva added, her own glass already raised upwards.
Everyone looked at Gibbs, who had yet to raise his glass. He let his eyes scan the faces of those with him. He wrinkled his forehead, staring down at his wine, before clearing his throat and slowly lifting it to join the others.
The team smiled softly, glasses clinking together. "To family." The warmth of the phrase filled the room as they echoed their team leader's sentiments. Each had a content smile on their face as they lifted their glass to their lips, taking a small sip. They let the feeling settle for a moment, cherishing it, before Tony finally broke the silence by clapping his hands with a single slap, and rubbing them together in anticipation.
"Now let's eat."