At this very moment, Charlotte "Chuck" Charles was twenty-nine years, eleven months, one week, thirteen hours, and two minutes old. It was the second Christmas of her new life and, unlike the year before, she planned on enjoying every moment of it. Just under three hundred and sixty-five days ago she'd been heartbroken, and so very alone, after learning the truth behind her father's death.
But this year…
This year, everything was different.
She was different.
And this year she planned on enjoying her very first Christmas.
Tomorrow she planned to decorate the Pie-Hole with shining ropes of garland and bunches of holly. She also had a sprig of mistletoe to hang over the entrance for the lovers to stop and share a peck before enjoying a warm slice of pie. (There was another little wisp of the plant as well, but that one she planned on keeping a roll of red and green plastic wrap next to.)
Despite all of her yuletide glee though, Chuck would not forget her youth.
Her childhood had been filled with "Jews for Cheeses" camp in the summer and menorahs in the winter. But looking back, Chuck's memories of lighting candles during Chanukah were also filled with the twinkling lights Ned's father had hung with care along his roof. And, one memory, one that she cherished dearly, was of Ned and his mother hanging ornaments on their tree.
Peeping from her window to his, the scene looked like an old photograph, a mother and son framed in a picture window surrounded by glittering lights as they decorated the tree.
At the time, she'd wanted to run across the street to help them. Not because she didn't love Chanukah, but because she wanted to be part of that snapshot as well. She wanted to be with Ned and smell whatever wonderful smell was filling up the house from the oven. She wanted to laugh and smile with her best friend and see the joy in his eyes.
In short, Chuck had wanted to experience the experience with her friend.
She'd never gotten the chance.
The next year her father was dead and Ned was gone.
But all of that changed the day that she died and Ned brought her back to life.
Now, here she was, sitting in the middle of the apartment that she and Olive shared, surrounded by boxes full of the lights and ornaments she'd dreamed of as a little girl. Ned was nowhere in sight, but Chuck was ok with that. This was girl time, time with her friend and she was relishing every moment of it.
With the menorah perched on the window sill, two of its candles flickering softly, Chuck reached into the box of ornaments and pulled out a blown glass horse. Olive plucked it from her hand and hung it as high as she could reach (which wasn't very) and Chuck reached for another.
The decoration that she pulled out this time was round and made from clear glass. It was covered in tiny horses and horse shoes that glittered in a rainbow of colors. When Olive reached out for it, Chuck clutched it to her chest and looked up at her. "Hey, Olive?"
"Yeah?" Olive's tiny hand dropped a little, as she waited for whatever Chuck was going to say.
Chuck could feel the glitter from the ornament pressing into her palm as she looked into Olive's expectant face. "Thanks for asking me to help." She offered up the ball.
Olive smiled; that bright and glimmering Olive smile that melted Chucks heart. "Of course, bestie."
The facts were these… Chuck's heart was filled to the brim with love and friendship as she stood up to hang a saddle shaped ornament from a branch on the tree. She had her snapshot; a picture of friendship and happiness that had nothing at all to do with menorahs or Christmas baubles.
Squeeka Cuomo's Notes
- Erin: Thank you so much for the beta. *hugs*
- Reviews are love.